A Year in China: Introduction

Hello reader,

My name is Alex. Here I will be taking you on a tour of my time spent studying abroad at Peking University in Beijing, China. To start off, I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself.


I’m currently 21 years old. I spent the past three years studying Political Science at the University of Minnesota, but I’m originally from the small town of Saukville, Wisconsin. I have LOTS of hobbies, but the biggest one is probably recording music. Throughout this blog I’ll be posting a lot of videos through YouTube, and if you check out my channel you’ll see a lot of original songs and covers I’ve recorded. I probably won’t be able to bring my equipment to China with me which makes me really sad but hopefully this blog will take the place of that hobby for the time-being. Because I think there’s a lot of questions to answer from the get-go, I’ll make the rest of this section an FAQ.

Do I speak Mandarin?

Well, that’s a loaded question. I began studying Mandarin at the University of Minnesota my sophomore year. At this point in time I’ve had 6 semesters of college level Mandarin if you include the 10 week Mandarin course I took this past Summer, which crammed 2 semesters worth of material into that very short time period. I think it’s important to note that I’m not a linguistics major and languages have never come especially easy to me. As far as how “good” I think my Mandarin is right now… I’m really not sure. Other than with my teachers and classmates, I have never really used the language to communicate. This video explains how strong I feel my Mandarin is in a little more detail.

What program is this?

The Chinese University Exchange Program through the University of Minnesota’s China Center. As far as I know, it’s the only program the University offers which places students at Peking. I chose this program because unlike other well-known Chinese programs like CET, you are pretty much on your own. Other programs seem to have a lot of bells and whistles I didn’t feel I needed. That means CUEP is a lot less in cost which means I can afford to stay for a full year as opposed to a single semester which was really important to me.

Why am I doing this?

As for this blog, my goal is to give YOU, the reader, a better idea of what China is truly like through the eyes of a foreigner. If you are a new CUEP student reading this in the future, I am going to try my very best to outline everything I am doing for you to refer to. Honestly, there still isn’t a whole lot of information about studying abroad in China, and the fact that Chinese universities (Peking included) do not cater to students in the same way Universities do in the U.S., there is a lot of grey area about what to expect. I hope to clear this up for you and together we can track how much my Mandarin improves so you can have someone to compare yourself to in that regard as well.

I think that’s just about everything worth mentioning in this intro, so welcome to my blog and I hope you enjoy what you read!


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