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Studying Abroad in Japan and China - advice?

Travel Forums Asia Studying Abroad in Japan and China - advice?

1. Posted by mochiball (Budding Member 4 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Hello there,

I was wondering if I could have a little help with something. In a bit of a dilemma here. I've been studying Chinese for about a year and a quarter now and am going for two years. During the summer I was planning to go to East China Normal University in Shanghai to study the language further and then hit Meiji Gakuin in Yokohama, Japan during the fall (summer in China from early July until late August and Japan from early September until late December). Kind of random, but I'm interested in the Japanese culture so I decided to study Economics while I was there as well as the language and culture.

My question is if this is a smart idea. My major is Economics so I'm not entirely sure if studying the Japanese economy over the Chinese economy is very wise. Thing is, I have not a clue what I'd like to do for a career and am still exploring my options. Another downside is that I don't think I'd be able to test back into advanced Chinese once I'm back at my college. However, I'm not entirely sure I want to follow through with the advanced series at this moment in time. My other option is to study at Fudan university during the fall instead of Meiji Gakuin, but I feel like I wouldn't get the chance to go to Japan again the year after (I'm not sure why, it's just a feeling I have).

Any bits of advice or feedback on what these areas/universities are like? Thank you very much for your time by the way. Appreciate it!

2. Posted by planetdan (Budding Member 8 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

I can understand why you want to see China. I'd like to spend some time there myself. But have you considered Taiwan? You could study here, learn more Chinese and find a job. Trips to Japan, Hong Kong, anywhere in Asia are easy to take. Originally I wanted to live in China, too, but once I discovered Taiwan I made the choice quickly.

Also, if you are interested in Economics, a trip to Japan won't be wasted. There's an interesting dynamic that keep all these country so close together going.

3. Posted by mochiball (Budding Member 4 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for the reply dan! May I ask why you chose Taiwan? I heard it's a lot nicer over there, but is it easier to find a job? (I'm not so sure if China or Japan hires foreigners myself actually) I'm also learning simplified Chinese right now, so would that be a problem?

Thanks for the info about the economies too. I was speaking with my TA earlier and he said it'd be a good idea to get a grasp of Japan's, Taiwan's, Hong Kong's and China's economies. Good to know that program will help if I go to Japan.

4. Posted by planetdan (Budding Member 8 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

You can find good jobs in Taiwan, I think. In China, there are also good jobs, as long as you stay near the ocean, in bigger cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai. I choose Taiwan because I met a girl here! :-) True, they still use traditional Chinese, but once you've learned either one, you can pick up the other.

5. Posted by Lavafalls (Travel Guru 155 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

I have lived the last two and half years in China. I have traveled all around Asia. If you want to spend a semester in China then a semester in Japan do it. Both places are great and teach you a lot. For studying Japanese i do not know much. But about studying Chinese I have a few suggestions.

The major downside of Taiwan over the mainland is that people in Taiwan do not speak proper Mandarin. Also Taiwan is going to be a lot more expensive then compared to mainland China. If you want to learn the Mandarin Shanghai is not the best place either. First Shanghai dialect is completely different from Mandarin. I lived in Shanghai for a year and speak pretty good chinese and still i can't understand it at all. Second the issue with Shanghai is too many distractions. Lots of foreigners and lots of places to foreigners can hide and never encounter China. Third because the foreign community is so large the different groups stick together. If you study in a Chinese city with a smaller foreigner population all of the groups mix making you have access to better connections. I used to hang out at a bar in Tianjin with some of the big shots at many European and American companies and i was only an English teacher. Everyone needs friends

If you really want to learn Mandarin the places i would go is either Haerbin or Tianjin. Yes both places are cold and polluted but there is good Mandarin there and with a small foreign community you will be forced to learn Mandarin. Also both cities are much cheaper to live in then Shanghai or Beijing. And both cities do have some sort of a night life.

As for sticking to the east coast. I just spent 9 weeks studying Chinese in Ningxia province and it was great. Learned lots of Mandarin and got to see a different side of the country. Making connections in Shanghai is good but anywhere in mainland China will be a great experience for helping you get a job later.

Good Luck


6. Posted by planetdan (Budding Member 8 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

I agree, Taiwanese people speak Mandarin a little differently. With a Taiwanese accent, but that's easy enough to pick up. I'm taking Mandarin lessons and it's strictly Chinese Mandarin, as long as you stay in Taipei. Taiwanese as a language was outlawed for several decades, so only the older people speak it now. It's got 7 tones instead of 5, making it especially challenging for westerners. Now, though you can take lessons in Taiwanese without trouble.

Yes, Taiwan costs more, but it also pays better. I'm actually making more money here than I ever made in the US. Considering it's cheaper than living in the US, that's not bad! My wife and I have already invested in 3 houses here.

As you can guess, I'm partial to Taiwan. But I also think having democracy, a free market, and freedom of the press make it a better choice. Of course, though, like you said, if you really want to learn Mandarin, go to some backwater part of China where you'll be forced to learn it. English is so common in Taipei (and Hong Kong) that learning Chinese only becomes a hobby.

7. Posted by Yonizzel (Budding Member 4 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

I am studying abroad in Shanghai this semester with USAC, their program is great, and right now I am teaching english in a small city called Taiyuan. Anyways I have a blog at [snip] feel free to check it out, and if you have any questions you can ask them on the blog and I will answer them, 100% guarantee :)


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