If you need that extra time before college begins, a Gap Year Study Abroad in China is a worthwhile endeavor to consider. Given the vastness of the country, the diversity of its landscape, the rich history and unique culture, spending a semester of full year in China gives you the time to make discoveries and build a foundation of language skills that will last long after your program finishes.
Why Consider a Gap Year Study Abroad in China?
A Gap Year Study Abroad in China places you in a country that is referred to as a potential global superpower[i] and is not only the world’s second largest state by land area, but also has one of the world’s earliest civilizations. Juxtapose that with a city like Shanghai, which has been one of the fastest developing cities in the world[ii], and you have a country that will keep you on your toes! The contrast of the futuristic with the traditional is really extraordinary, and is bound to provide both life skills and that world-wide perspective that is hard to get from textbooks. And speaking of takeaways…
FUN FACT: If your Gap Year in China coincides with the Chines New Year, you can wish your friends “Xin Nian Kuai Le” (sheen nian kwai luh) which means ‘Happy New Year’ in Mandarin. (web)[iii]
International Experience and Exposure
There are a variety of Gap Year Abroad Programs in China to choose from. If you stay with a local family, your understanding of local culture deepens over things like making dinner and practicing your Mandarin or learning the do’s and don’ts of using chopsticks. Navigating a foreign culture can be a great plus on your resume too.
Foreign Language Experience
There is often a Chinese Language exchange, tutoring and formal instruction to increase your proficiency and comprehension. Coursework is boosted by activities focused on Chinese culture but beyond the classroom, you are living local, observing and participating in new things, and broadening your points of view.
Living in a different culture can be an informative experience in and of itself. Imagine shopping in the colorful Donghuamen Night Market in Beijing for exotic snack food like fried pancakes with peking duck, or getting culture shocked at some of the other outdoor vegetable, fruit and meat markets. It can be a great way to build an appreciation for your own culture too.
Take Class – Take a Trip…
Taking a Gap Year in China may make you feel like taking classes for yourself – why not learn Tai Chi or take calligraphy classes? Some programs also have built in and pre-planned opportunities for you to travel within China or excursions that complement your other activities. You may be able to plan a side trip to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, depending on where your home base is. What to see? Take in some of the iconic landmarks like the Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Army in Xi’an, the Forbidden City and Palace Museum (extensive Ming and Qing dynasty artwork!), or take a bamboo raft on the Li River in Guangxi. Parks, pandas, palaces and possibilities.
China Gap Year programs may also come with a volunteer service experience, where you may get a certificate for helping out in your local community, let’s say, teaching English! This can be a personally rewarding part of your journey – a chance to do something meaningful that might also stand out to future employers. Some programs have you teach English to your homestay family, but there are also opportunities to customize your volunteer abroad experience depending on your interests.
Combined internship programs are also available if you want to spend some or all of your gap year in China building some cross-cultural professional skills. While parts of China is rural and traditional, some of the cities like Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing have a lot going on in terms of finance, business, commerce, science, mathematics, engineering and telecommunications. World-wide work experience may help you develop insight or if you are undecided on a college major, may help steer you in your future studies.
Find a China Gap Year Program
As with any major decision, you need to decide what type of Gap Year Study Abroad in China program fits with your personality type and goals. Search by selecting one of the popular cities in China, the term you want to go for and any specialty. Scroll through the sponsored listings to learn more about the various programs offered and fill out a contact form to get more details and make an informed choice.
sources: [i] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China| [ii] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai | tripadvisor.com/Travel-g294212-c3435/Beijing:China:Food.Markets.htm l en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbidden_City |en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_River_(Guangxi) |[iii] huffingtonpost.ca/2014/01/20/happy-new-year-in-chinese_n_4632987.htm l