How is University Life In China?

University life in China can vary depending on the specific university, location, and individual preferences. Before talking about the details, it’s important to note that individual experiences can vary, and the quality of university life depends on factors such as the specific university, the chosen program, and personal preferences. It’s advisable to research and choose a university and program that aligns with your academic and lifestyle goals.

Academic Environment

The academic environment in Chinese universities is characterized by certain key features:

  • Chinese universities are known for their rigorous academic programs, particularly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. Programs in engineering, computer science, and related disciplines are often highly regarded.
  • The Chinese education system tends to be more structured compared to some Western counterparts. There is often a focus on a standardized curriculum and examinations.
  • Class sizes in Chinese universities can be relatively large, especially in undergraduate programs.
  • Many Chinese universities prioritize research, and faculty members are often involved in research projects. Graduate programs, in particular, may involve a significant research component.
  • Chinese universities have made significant investments in modern facilities, including state-of-the-art laboratories, libraries, and classrooms. Major universities in large cities often boast impressive campuses.
  • Chinese universities are increasingly making efforts to internationalize their campuses. This includes offering programs in English to attract international students and fostering global collaborations.
  • The assessment system in Chinese universities typically includes a combination of examinations, coursework, and sometimes practical projects. Examinations are often the primary method of evaluating students’ understanding of the material.
  • Mandarin Chinese is the primary medium of instruction in most Chinese universities. However, many universities offer programs in English, especially at the postgraduate level, to attract international students.
  • Chinese academic culture places a high value on discipline and punctuality. Students are generally expected to be attentive in class, complete assignments on time, and adhere to academic and classroom norms.
  • Chinese universities have a growing number of well-qualified faculty members, often with international academic backgrounds. Many professors are actively engaged in research and contribute to their respective academic fields.

Campus Facilities

Chinese universities often have modern and extensive campus facilities to support the academic, extracurricular, and daily life needs of students. While the specifics can vary between institutions, here are some common features of campus facilities in Chinese universities:

  • Chinese universities typically have well-equipped libraries with a vast collection of books, journals, and electronic resources. These libraries often serve as important study and research spaces.
  • Modern classrooms and lecture halls are standard in Chinese universities, equipped with audio-visual aids and technology to facilitate effective teaching and learning.
  • Especially in science, engineering, and medical disciplines, universities have state-of-the-art laboratories for conducting experiments and research. These facilities may include physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering labs.
  • Campuses often have dedicated student activity centers that house various facilities, such as meeting rooms, event spaces, and recreational areas. These centers are hubs for student clubs and organizations.
  • Chinese universities usually offer a range of sports facilities, including gyms, outdoor sports fields, and indoor sports arenas. Students can participate in various sports and physical activities.
  • Many universities provide on-campus accommodation options for students, including dormitories or apartment-style residences. These facilities aim to provide a comfortable living environment for both domestic and international students.
  • Campuses feature dining facilities that offer a variety of meals, catering to different dietary preferences. These spaces serve as social hubs where students can gather and interact.
  • Universities typically have on-campus medical centers or clinics to provide healthcare services to students. This may include general medical care, counseling services, and health education.
  • Outdoor spaces, gardens, and parks are often incorporated into university campuses to provide students with areas for relaxation and recreation.
  • As part of efforts to internationalize campuses, many Chinese universities have dedicated services for international students, including orientation programs, language support, and cultural exchange activities.
  • Larger universities may have their own transportation services, such as shuttles or buses, to facilitate easy movement within the campus or between different campuses.

Teaching Language

The primary language of instruction in Chinese universities is Mandarin Chinese. This applies to the majority of undergraduate and some graduate programs. Mandarin, also known as Standard Chinese or Putonghua, is the official language of China and is used in educational institutions across the country.

However, due to the increasing internationalization of Chinese higher education and efforts to attract more international students, many universities also offer programs in English, particularly at the postgraduate level. This is common in fields such as business, engineering, and international relations.

Here are some key points regarding the teaching language in Chinese universities:

  • Most undergraduate programs are taught in Mandarin, and proficiency in the language is typically required for admission. International students entering Chinese-taught programs are required to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency in Mandarin through language proficiency tests.
  • Many universities, especially in major cities and those with a strong international focus, offer graduate programs in English. These programs are designed to attract international students and may cover a wide range of disciplines.
  • For international students studying in Mandarin-taught programs, some universities provide language support services. This may include language courses, language exchange programs, and additional resources to help non-native speakers improve their Mandarin proficiency.
  • In certain universities and programs, especially those with a high number of international students, you may find a more bilingual environment where both Mandarin and English are used in various contexts.
  • Depending on the program and university, there may be language requirements for admission. For English-taught programs, international students may need to demonstrate proficiency in English through tests like the TOEFL or IELTS.
  • Chinese universities actively collaborate with institutions and researchers around the world. This collaboration often involves communication in English, contributing to the use of English in academic and research settings.


The food scene at Chinese universities is diverse and can vary depending on the region, the specific university, and individual preferences. Here are some general aspects of food at Chinese universities:

  • Most Chinese universities have on-campus cafeterias that offer a variety of meals at affordable prices. These cafeterias serve as popular spots for students to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Campus dining facilities typically offer a range of Chinese dishes, reflecting the rich diversity of Chinese cuisine. You can expect to find options from various regional cuisines, including Sichuan, Cantonese, Shandong, and more.
  • Food at university cafeterias is generally affordable, making it a convenient option for students on a budget. Prices are often lower compared to eating at restaurants off-campus.
  • Many campus cafeterias provide vegetarian and Halal food options to cater to the diverse dietary preferences of students.
  • In larger cities and universities with a significant international student population, you may find dining options that offer international cuisine, including Western, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian dishes.
  • In addition to on-campus dining, students often have access to street food vendors and local eateries in the surrounding neighborhoods. This allows for a broader range of food choices and experiences.
  • Some universities have popular student hangout spots or food streets where students can explore a variety of snacks, quick bites, and specialty dishes.
  • Food delivery services are prevalent in many Chinese cities, and students often use mobile apps to order meals from local restaurants and eateries. This provides convenience, especially during busy study periods.
  • Campuses often have tea shops and snack vendors where students can purchase beverages, bubble tea, and traditional Chinese snacks.
  • In on-campus dormitories or student apartments, there may be shared kitchen facilities for students who prefer to cook their own meals.

Cultural Experience

Studying at a Chinese university can provide a rich cultural experience for international students. Here are several aspects that contribute to the cultural experience at Chinese universities:

  • Being immersed in a Mandarin-speaking environment offers an opportunity to improve language skills and gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture. While many people in larger cities may speak English, especially in academic settings, learning some basic Mandarin can enhance your daily interactions.
  • China is a culturally diverse country with a long history, and this diversity is reflected in university campuses. Students from different provinces bring their own regional customs, traditions, and dialects, creating a dynamic cultural environment.
  • Chinese universities celebrate traditional festivals such as the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival), Mid-Autumn Festival, and Dragon Boat Festival. Participating in these celebrations provides insight into traditional customs, performances, and food.
  • Universities often organize cultural events, performances, and exhibitions to showcase various aspects of Chinese culture. These may include traditional music, dance, calligraphy, martial arts, and more.
  • Joining student clubs or cultural exchange programs provides opportunities to interact with local students, learn about their interests, and share aspects of your own culture. These clubs may focus on traditional arts, languages, or contemporary interests.
  • Many universities organize language exchange programs where international students can practice Mandarin with local students who want to improve their English or another language. This fosters cross-cultural friendships.
  • Universities may offer workshops or classes in traditional Chinese arts and crafts, such as calligraphy, painting, or paper cutting. Participating in these activities can deepen your appreciation for Chinese artistic traditions.
  • Some universities may offer insights into traditional Chinese medicine or practices like tai chi and qigong. Understanding these aspects of Chinese culture contributes to a holistic cultural experience.

Social Life

The social life at Chinese universities can be vibrant and diverse, offering a range of activities and opportunities for students to engage with each other. Here are several aspects of social life at Chinese universities:

  • Chinese universities have a variety of student clubs and organizations covering a wide range of interests, from academic and professional groups to cultural, sports, and recreational clubs. Joining these clubs is a great way to meet like-minded individuals.
  • Universities organize extracurricular activities, such as sports competitions, talent shows, cultural events, and festivals. Participating in these activities can provide a chance to make friends and create lasting memories.
  • Social events, mixers, and parties are common on university campuses, especially during the beginning of the academic year or around major festivals. These events offer opportunities to socialize with fellow students.
  • Many universities facilitate language exchange programs, where international students can meet local students interested in practicing language skills. This not only aids in language learning but also fosters cross-cultural friendships.
  • Living in on-campus dormitories allows for close interaction with fellow students. Dormitory life often involves shared activities, communal meals, and a sense of community among residents.
  • Campus cafeterias and food courts are popular social hubs. Students often gather for meals, discussions, and casual interactions in these spaces.
  • Chinese students frequently use social media and online platforms to connect and organize events. WeChat, for example, is a widely used messaging app that serves as a social networking tool for students.
  • Some universities organize special events and programs to help international students make friends and integrate into the local community. These may include welcome parties, cultural exchange events, and city tours.
  • University life provides opportunities for networking with classmates, faculty, and professionals in your field of study. Building a social and professional network can be beneficial for future collaborations and career opportunities.
  • Access to recreational facilities such as sports fields, gyms, and game rooms encourages students to engage in physical activities and team sports, fostering a sense of camaraderie.
  • Participating in traditional Chinese festivals and celebrations with local students can be a memorable experience. It provides insights into cultural traditions and strengthens bonds among students.
  • Students often explore the local community, including nearby markets, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Exploring the city together can be a fun and social way to get to know your surroundings.


Dormitory life is a common and integral part of the university experience in China. Many Chinese universities provide on-campus housing options for both domestic and international students. Here are some key aspects of dormitories in Chinese universities:

  • Most universities in China offer on-campus housing options, typically in the form of dormitories or student residences. Living on campus provides convenience and easy access to academic buildings, libraries, and other facilities.
  • Dormitories in Chinese universities vary in terms of size, layout, and amenities. Some universities offer single rooms, while others have shared rooms with roommates. The facilities may include communal bathrooms, kitchens, and common areas.
  • Many universities have dedicated dormitory buildings for international students. These dormitories may offer additional amenities and services to accommodate the needs of students from different cultural backgrounds.
  • Dormitories typically include basic furnishings such as beds, desks, chairs, wardrobes, and basic bedding. Some dormitories may have air conditioning, heating, and internet access. Shared facilities may include bathrooms, kitchens, and common areas.
  • Some universities provide meal plans for students living in dormitories, while others may have on-campus cafeterias or food courts where students can purchase meals. Additionally, students may have the option to cook their own meals in shared kitchen facilities.
  • Security is a priority in dormitories, and many have controlled access systems to ensure the safety of residents. Some universities also have security personnel patrolling the campus.
  • Living in dormitories provides opportunities for socializing with fellow students. Shared common areas, communal kitchens, and organized social events contribute to a sense of community among residents.
  • Dormitory assignments are usually made by the university, taking into consideration factors such as the student’s program of study, year of study, and sometimes personal preferences. International students may be placed together in designated dormitories.
  • The cost of living in a university dormitory is often more affordable than renting an apartment off-campus. The exact cost varies depending on the university, the type of room, and the amenities provided.
  • While many students choose to live in university dormitories, some may opt for off-campus housing. Off-campus options include renting apartments or shared housing in the local community.

Cost Of Living

The cost of living for students in China can vary depending on factors such as the city, lifestyle, and individual spending habits. However, compared to many Western countries, China is often considered more affordable for international students. Here are some general aspects to consider when estimating the cost of living in Chinese universities:

  • The cost of accommodation varies based on factors such as the city and whether you choose to live on or off-campus. University dormitories are often more affordable compared to renting an apartment off-campus. In major cities, renting a private apartment can be more expensive.
  • On-campus cafeterias and local eateries provide affordable meal options. Cooking at home or sharing meals with roommates can also help manage food costs. The overall cost of meals depends on your dietary preferences and whether you choose to eat out frequently.
  • Public transportation in China is generally inexpensive. Many cities have efficient and affordable metro systems, buses, and other modes of transportation. The cost will depend on your location and how frequently you use public transportation.
  • The cost of textbooks and other academic supplies will depend on your program of study. Some universities may provide textbooks, while others require students to purchase them separately.
  • Personal expenses, including toiletries, clothing, and entertainment, can vary based on individual preferences and lifestyle choices. Budgeting for personal expenses is essential for managing overall costs.
  • Mobile phone plans and internet services in China are relatively affordable. You can choose from various mobile carriers and data plans based on your communication needs.
  • Costs for recreational activities, such as cultural events, movies, and dining out, depend on personal preferences. Engaging in affordable or free cultural events on campus or in the local community can help manage entertainment costs.
  • If you plan to travel within China or explore nearby regions, budgeting for transportation, accommodation, and sightseeing expenses is important.
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