The Experience report. Exchange semester: spring 2015

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1 The Experience report Name: Rowan Rosens Exchange semester: spring 2015 Academic year: Master student Host University: Tsinghua University: School of law Country: China First of all, everyone should go on exchange. It is an amazing experience and you will make a lot of new (international) friends. Beijing is far away and the Chinese culture is a way different compared to the culture in the Netherlands. It is easy to apply for a safer option, however I can assure you that Beijing is awesome. Do not hesitate, just do it! Admission, arrival, housing The admission package from Tsinghua University is send quite late. I received my package around December. All the necessary information is in there to apply for your Visa, information about the dormitories on the campus, etc. Although it is send quite late, you will have enough time to arrange all the things you need before you leave to Beijing. I arrived two weeks before the semester started in Beijing. This gave me some time to discover Beijing and the University. I already booked an apartment via Airbnb before I arrived in Beijing, so the owner picked me up at the Airport. However, the subway in Beijing is really good (English signs) and it is also possible to go by cab (20 Euro). If you go by cab, make sure you have the address in Chinese, because they do not speak English! It is also possible to sleep in a dorm on the campus, which is probably the cheapest option. Furthermore, you can book a hostel and search for an accommodation when you arrive in Beijing. There are many agencies (TheBeijinger, BeijingBuddy, etc), which can provide you with a room or complete apartments. You have to bargain really hard, because they will overprice you for sure! Most of the students live in Wudaokou. It is close to the University and it is a nice neighborhood with a lot of bars, restaurants, supermarkets and clubs. There is also a buddy program. I really recommend you to get a buddy. Your buddy can help you with all sorts of problems. He will help you to buy a bike (even if you live on campus you will need one!), gives you a campus tour, speaks Chinese so he can help you translate things, etc. It is also a lot of fun, because it is probably your first Chinese friend in China! Location of University/city Beijing is the capital of China and one of the most populous cities in the world. There live over 21 million people! Tilburg is only a small village compared to this city. Beijing is a wonderful city, with historical parts, but also modern districts. There is a lot you really have the see and you can find the highlights in every

2 book about Beijing. The Summer Palace is really close to the University and it is really worth visiting. Although, Beijing is a big city, it is really easy to get around. The subway is really good, easy and cheap. Chinese people on the streets will often be very helpful, however, they often do not speak English or they do not know the way. Tsingua University is located in the northern part of the city. The campus is really big (that is also a reason why you definitely need a bike). It is overwhelming when you see all the teaching buildings, the restaurants, the roads, the theater, the dormitories, the soccer fields, the tennis courts, etc. The campus is just like a village. The best place to go to sports is definitely on the campus. There are a lot of sports facilities like a gym, tennis courts, and swimming pools. You also have the possibility to play football, baseball, basketball, etc. Enough to keep you fit! On campus you can find a lot of restaurants and foot courts, however, I recommend you to eat and party in Wudaokou. The food and drinks are cheap and you will meet most exchange students in this neighborhood. Academics I chose to take five courses (Chinese banking law, Internet law, Copyright law, Constitutional law, and Equity and Trust). You could choose a lot of courses taught in English (and also Chinese), but these courses sounded interesting to me. I did not have a lot experience with the content of these courses, so I they gave me a deeper perspective on certain aspects of the law. The professors were really good and enthusiastic. They will provide you with a lot of reading materials, however it is really interesting to read it. It is also necessary to read the materials for the class participation! The classes were rather small and very interactive (unlike at Tilburg), so that also kept me entertained and focused. The level of the courses was not as challenging as at Tilburg. The level of English was pretty good, due to the fact that all the professors were American, Australian, or graduates from great Universities. The examination was not that hard compared to Tilburg. Some professors preferred a presentation and a paper; other professors preferred a presentation, paper and a written exam or only a written exam. The class participation is also very important and it will influence your final grade. Social life The University organized a couple of trips to law firms and courts. Furthermore, a lot of famous guest speakers come to Tsinghua University to give a lecture, for example, Tim Cook, the prime minister of India, Drew Faust, etc. I joined a couple of activities and they are really interesting and it is a great way to get to know your classmates. Before the actual semester started I already met some new international friends. I recommend all the future exchange students to get in contact with other exchange students before the semester starts, for example by sending them an e- mail. It is not only fun to hang out with them, but they are also in the same

3 situations as you are. You could really help each other and share information. Because exchange students are in the same situation as you are, you will have a great time with them. You will explore the city, go to bars and clubs and hang out with them. You will have a great time with your new friends! I did not know many local students. They are not on exchange and Chinese students study a lot! Because of the many classes, they do not have a lot of time. The local students I met were all really nice and helpful. However, your best friends will be the other exchange students. I made a trip to Shanghai, which was a lot of fun. Shanghai is different from Beijing. Beijing is really traditional and Shanghai is really modern. Four days is enough to visit Shanghai and it is easy to get there by the high-speed train. In the Spring break I made a trip to Chengdu, Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong and Pingyao. In Chengdu I made a trip to the countryside. It is really interesting, but also confrontational to see how the people live here. They are really friendly, although they are really poor. You can really see the big differences in China between the countryside and the (rich) cities. Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong have national parks that are really beautiful and I can really recommend you to go there. Pingyao is a traditional village in China. It is very touristy, but it is still worth visiting. It is also easy to get there by high-speed train. Living costs Some things are cheaper compared to the Netherlands. Other things are more expensive. Housing in Beijing is really expensive (if you live off campus). It you want to live in a nice and clean room, you will definitely pay 400 Euros per month or more. If you want to live comfortably, you will pay quite a lot. You should live there for almost half a year, so I recommend you to find a nice and clean room/apartment. It is your new house, so you should be willing to spend some money. Food and drinks are really cheap in Beijing. It is a lot cheaper than preparing the food by yourself. In the food courts it is possible to eat for about 2 Euros, in Wudaokou it is a little more expensive and it will cost you around 5 Euros. It is up to you how much money you spend on food. I think the food outside the campus tastes better, so I preferred to spend a more money. The textbooks are really cheap. You will probably pay less than 50 Euros for all your textbooks. For a bike you will pay about 30 Euros. The subway and cabs are really cheap compared to the Netherlands. If you want to go to the gym you will pay about 100 Euros for the whole semester. Do not go to a gym outside the campus, they will definitely overprice you. Culture Everybody warned me for a (possible) culture shock in China. However, it was not that bad. Beijing is a big city with a lot of people. It is a rich city and also a

4 quite modern city. The fist months will be full of new experiences, culture, people, language, etc. You will have some difficulties the first weeks with arranging things and Chinese people will not understand you. However, after a while you will get used to it and you will be amazed about the different culture. Of course, you will go to a very different country. The food is different, the religion is different, the language is different, and some people spit on the floor, hygiene is not as much a factor in the Chinese society as it is in the Netherlands. I can assure you, you will get used to it. You have to be open-minded and be fully open to the Chinese culture. Life will get better and easier. Chinese people work hard, are really friendly, and helpful. You will be amazed how beautiful the Chinese culture really is. As mentioned above, I have also been to the countryside of China. The differences between the countryside and the cities are really big. The difference between rich people in de cities and poor people on the countryside is really big. However, everybody is really nice and happy. The poor people work really hard to make a living. It was not a culture shock, I found it really interesting to see all the differences in China. Personal development I met a lot of people from all over the world. I have learned a lot about their cultures, their norms and values, and style of living. You start to realize that you have to be open-minded. You can learn a lot from people from another country. I think my exchange to Beijing was a once in a lifetime opportunity. You will learn a lot about yourself, about the country, culture and you have to take care of yourself. You do not speak the language, so a small thing could be really difficult. You will face some problems (small or big) and you have to deal with them on your own. I think that dealing with these kinds of things makes you more prepared for the rest of your life. You really have to step out of your comfort zone, and go to China instead of a safer choice. Everyone should be open for a new environment and experience! Tips for future students I would really recommend every student to go on exchange to Beijing. You will make a lot of new friends and it is the possibility to develop yourself. It was a great experience, one I will never forget. Beijing is an awesome city. Beijing has everything: world famous tourist attractions, bars, clubs, and shopping malls. You will have enough time to make a lot of trips to go sightseeing in and around Beijing. If you have the possibility to do some traveling in China: definitely go! Tsinghua University is the number one University in China and also world famous! Almost all Chinese people are really jealous when you study at the Tsinghua University. The campus is really big and impressive. The teachers are really good and the international students office is really helpful.

5 To prepare for an exchange to Beijing it would be wise to read something about China. Furthermore, the culture is different; sometimes it takes a while to get a real answer. Therefore, you should be proactive instead of reactive. Also keep in mind that the Chinese Visa procedures and requirements are very strict and it is necessary to pay attention to all the details. Last, I recommend you to go to Beijing two weeks before the actual semester starts. You can find a place to live, buy a bike, and already make some friends. Pictures The law building

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