Semester in China

Basic information

  • Location: Beijing, China | Map
  • Dates: Fall, 2017
  • Class requirement: Sophomore
  • GPA requirement: 2.50+
  • Cost: To be announced
Apply

For years, China was shrouded in mystery to westerners, but now this 1.3 billion person nation has opened itself up to the outside world. Spend a semester alongside expert professors and curious peers studying all things Chinese, both traditional and modern.

Calvin has its own semester-long program in China, offered every fall semester, that offers you the choice between a language-focus track or the language and culture track. Even without a background in Chinese, you'll have the time of your life getting to know this deep, ancient culture. You'll have everyday adventures in bustling Beijing looking for the best place to eat Chinese dumplings and visiting the city's National Library, sports facilities, parks and countless other important cultural sites. On the weekends and during special trips you'll travel to the outlying areas, walking on the Great Wall or trekking up China's most holy mountain, Taishan.

Beijing, China
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Beijing, China

In northeast China, Beijing is the capital of a nation that covers 3.7 million square miles of land. With the Forbidden City at its core, Beijing expands outward in a structure of concentric ring roads. It is a destination known as much for its ancient sites as its modern cityscape.

Things to do

Beijing is the political and cultural center of China. You will find ancient temples and palace complexes as well as skyscrapers and museums easily accessible via Beijing's public transportation system or by rental bike.

The program includes travel outside of Beijing to various cultural and historic sites every other weekend and a ten-day trip to Xi'an, Nanjing and Shanghai.

History
Beijing was first populated over half a million years ago, but the first Chinese Emperor was crowned in 221 BC. In 1421 the third Ming Emperor, Yongle, established Beijing as the new capitol and created the Forbidden City, the grid system and many landmarks which are still there today. The late 19th and 20th centuries saw Beijing as the center of political turmoil and unrest, marked by fighting between China and foreign forces as well as between Chinese nationalists and communists. After the creation of the People's Republic of China, much of the city's traditional architecture was destroyed. Since then Beijing has gained economic strength, most notably demonstrated in their being awarded the 2008 summer Olympics.
Population
Approx. 14 million
Climate
Summer in Beijing is hot and humid, with most of the year's rainfall happening in July and August, and temperatures can exceed 104° F (40° C). Winter is cold and dry with occasional snow and can dip to -4° F (-20° C). Air pollution levels can also occasionally affect travel plans.

Program Profile: China

In most cases students adapt well to their circumstances, but it is helpful to know what to expect as you prepare for a specific experience. If you have specific questions about a program, we would encourage you to speak directly to your off-campus instructor or director or, feel free to stop by the OCP Office at any time.

Physical expectations: Moderate
Language Importance: High
Cultural acclimation difficulty: High
Level of Cultural Interaction: Moderate
Safety & Security Considerations: Moderate

Health Considerations: Moderate
Mental Health Considerations: High
Lodging: Dorms
Cost: $$


Social Expectations: By their nature, semesters and interims off-campus are inherently social experiences. Heavy emphasis is usually put on building a strong sense of community within the group, which requires openness, sociability, and a collaborative spirit from everyone involved. Acknowledging that having a diversity of personalities makes a group stronger, it is expected that all participants willfully agree to be an active part of the social community of their interim or semester program.

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Physical Expectations

Low

These experiences require no more physical exertion than being on Calvin’s Campus. You don’t have to worry about doing anything physically demanding unless you want to. No physical preparation is required to make the most of this experience.

Moderate

Moderate physical activity is expected and an average level of fitness is required. You will be doing a great deal more walking then on campus, often over uneven surfaces and rough roads. Some physical preparation is recommended before departure to make the most of this experience.

High

Be prepared for some serious physical activity requiring an above average level of fitness. This will include a high level of walking over all kinds of terrain as well as other physical demands in all kinds of extreme temperatures. The fitter you are, the more you’ll enjoy this experience as many activities will be challenging.

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Language Importance

Low

English is the predominant language in course location.

Moderate

Knowing another language is helpful to fulfill the goals of the course but English is also prevalent in course location.

High
Knowing another language is important to fulfill the goals of the course.

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Cultural Acclimation Difficulty

Low

Western conveniences are prevalent. Host culture is very similar to traditions and culture of West Michigan.

Moderate

Few western conveniences, the need for students to blend in with the surrounding culture is important. Host culture shares similarities and differences with the culture of West Michigan.

High
No western conveniences, the need for students to acclimatize to local culture is readily apparent. Host culture is vastly different than West Michigan.

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Level of Cultural Interaction

Low

Interaction with local culture is limited and very formal (e.g. through organized tours).

Moderate

Intentional opportunities to interact with local peoples and culture.

High

Intensive immersion in local culture – host families, service-learning, etc.

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Safety & Security Considerations

Although no one can guarantee your safety or eliminate all risks from a study-abroad experience, Calvin College is committed to doing its utmost to provide secure environments in which you can live and learn. Our goal is to minimize risks and keep you aware of special situations as you make decisions about studying off-campus.

Low

Safety concerns are similar to living on campus. Incidents can happen anywhere, but there are no indications that you are more at risk during this experience then you would be at home. You always need to continually be aware of what is going on around you and partner with your Calvin instructor or director to assure your safety while off-campus.

Moderate

There are no specific safety concerns of the U.S. State Department for the areas where you will be studying. However, additional care must be taken to assure a safe and secure experience. You always need to continually be aware of what is going on around you and partner with your Calvin instructor or director to assure your safety while off-campus.

High

There are safety concerns you should be aware of as you commit to this trip. The U.S. State Department has issued a Travel alert or Warning for the area where you will be studying. You will need to partner with Calvin in addressing safety concerns and follow all safety guidelines for the experience.

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Health Considerations

Remember, Calvin follows the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for all Calvin sponsored off-campus experiences.

Low

Health concerns are similar to living on campus. Illnesses and accidents can happen anywhere, but there are no indications that you are more at risk during this experience then you would be at home. Health Care resources (clinics, medical personnel, etc.) are numerous and you would have easy access to medical care if needed. Some vaccinations will be required, but overall precautions are minimal.

Moderate

In general, health concerns are slightly higher than living on campus. Typical travel illnesses (diarrhea, intestinal issues, etc.) are often experienced and appropriate health care is available but can be harder to access than on campus. Several vaccinations may be required and students must be diligent in taking precautions before and during the experience.

High

Health concerns are higher than living on campus. Typical travel illnesses (diarrhea, intestinal issues, etc.) are often experienced at some point. Plans to assure adequate health care are in place but health care facilities could be hard to access during the experience. There may be many vaccinations required for the experience and students must be diligent in taking precautions before and during the experience.

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Mental Health Considerations

Remember, the Broene Counseling Center cannot provide on-line or phone consultations with students.

Moderate

Mental health resources are similar to living on the Calvin campus. Mental Health resources (clinics, counselors, etc.) are available and you would have access to these resources, if needed. It could be challenging to find the right resources on short notice and for a short period of time.

High

Mental health resources are present in various locations during the experience but maybe difficult to access for a variety of reasons.

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Lodging

Camping

Group will be camping (living outdoors) at times during the trip.

Host Families

Students will be staying with host families for parts or all of the experience.

Dorms

Staying in College dorms, similar to Calvin. Roommates will be other Calvin students or other international students depending on your preference.

Hostels

Dormitory style lodging, shared bathrooms.

Hotels

Individual rooms (with roommates) and private baths.

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Cost

Cost of off-campus experiences vary as a result of a number of factors, including the number of students enrolled in the program. Amidst all these factors, the following categories could be helpful, but students are encouraged to check with instructors and directors on specific cost information.

Semester

$ Within $500 of tuition, room & board on campus
$$ Between $501 and $2,000 of tuition, room and board on campus
$$$ More than $2,000 over tuition, room and board on campus

Interim

$ Less than $2,500
$$ $2,501 to $3,800
$$$ >$3,801

Academics

Calvin's China semester program partners with Beijing Normal University and the Beijing Center.

Calvin offers two options for study in China:

The Language-Focus Track (15 credit hours)

  • 12 credit hours of language study
  • STCH 210: Emerging China
  • 1 credit hour for participation in group excursions.

The Language and Culture Track (16 credit hours) 

  • 8 credit hours of language study
  • STCH 203: Traditional Chinese Civilization
  • STCH 204: Modern China
  • STCH 210: Emerging China

If you have already taken HIST 245, 246 or 371, you may, with the permission of the director of Off-Campus Programs, substitute one course at the Beijing Center for STCH 203 or 204. Courses at the Beijing Center are offered in art, literature, business, media and government.

Learn more about direct-enroll transfer credits in academic services.

Grades

The grades from the culture courses courses will be factored into your GPA. The grade from your Chinese language course will be listed on your transcript but will not factor into your GPA.

Course Fulfillments

STCH 203 and 204 each fulfill the Global & Historical Studies core requirement. STCH 210 fulfills the Cross-Cultural Engagement (CCE) core requirement.

Accommodations

You will live with another Calvin student in a westernized international dormitory at the Beijing Normal University.

Eligibility

You must be of sophomore status and have 2.5 GPA or higher to study in China.

There is no prerequisite for the China semester program. Even though the great majority of students who participate in this program have already studied some Chinese language, a background in the Chinese language is not required. The semester program in Beijing averages 12 students each year, but can accommodate more than that number.

Cost

The final program cost is expected to be within $1000 of Calvin tuition and room and board on campus. More specific cost information will be sent with your acceptance letter. The final program cost is based on many factors and is not known exactly until the number of students in the group has been identified. The financial information page covers the details that go into the cost of the program and rough estimates for each. The cost for the China semester will include:

  • Tuition and administrative fee
  • Round trip airfare Grand Rapids/Beijing
  • Housing (in a university dorm)
  • Food allowance
  • Program excursions

Additional expenses not included in the program fee: passport, visa, books,medical insurance (required), required immunizations, personal spending money and personal travel.

Application

Start the application process

Click the Application link above to see more information and to submit an application to the Off-Campus Programs Office.

Guest students may apply for this program.

Questions / contact

Wayne Ten Harmsel

Assistant Professor
Full profile

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