Making the City Your Classroom

When you are moving to a new country to study in, there is a lot to think about. First and foremost, though, is where you want to live. Deciding on a city is the first step on the journey to studying abroad while at university.

What Do You Need To Think About When You Are Looking For a New City?

Before we get right into the cities themselves, let’s take a look at what you should look for in a city when you are a foreign student before moving there. After all, it’s a big decision and there’s a lot that goes into it. You’ve learned a new language, moved halfway around the world, and now you just need a city to crack open your books in. With these tips, you will be ready find the perfect city for you to live and study in.

study abroad China

Proximity to Your University

study abroad China

This is probably first and foremost for you to consider. Wherever you move to, you need to be able to attend your classes and have access to the university you are attending. Of course, how close you are exactly depends on your personal preference for how far you are willing to travel on a daily basis.

This also depends on what university you are attending. After all, the location of the university specifically will limit your options of where to live. Ultimately, though, this part is a personal decision and hinges on what is best for you. Ideally, most people want to live in the same city that their university is located in.

Location and Lifestyle

Just like anywhere else, China is home to a variety of landscapes and types of locales. This is something you need to consider when you are choosing where you would like to live. If you are interested in somewhere with a high population and futuristic design, a city like Shanghai or Hong Kong might be best for you. However, if you find megacities a little claustrophobic, you might want to look into more laid back locations like Hangzhou or Chengdu.

study abroad China


study abroad China

A lot of Chinese cities have their own local Chinese dialects. It’s impossible to learn every iteration of Chinese in the country, though. To be safe, you should supplement your Mandarin with some of the local language of whichever city you choose to live in.


Shanghai is the first city that we’re going to talk about in depth. Home to six world class universities, Shanghai is a mecca for international students. There are hundreds of thousands of international students studying in the city, so finding a community will be easy. This access to a large group of people in the same boat as you will help you deal with the culture shock that comes along with studying abroad. This bustling city has jobs aplenty, so you’ll have opportunities to stay if you decide that’s for you. Overall, Shanghai is a wonderful city and deserves its place at the top of the list.

study abroad China


study abroad China

Next on the list we have the Chinese capital. Beijing is home to both Tsinghua University and Peking University, China’s most prestigious universities and among the highest ranked universities in the world. Tsinghua is particularly well known for its engineering program. For history majors and enthusiasts alike, Beijing has a wide variety of historical sites for you to explore.

Hong Kong

We have arrived at Hong Kong, a city consistently ranked among the top cities in the world for international students. This fast-paced city will definitely take some getting used to, but the time is well worth the effort. Hong Kong has a distinctly western flair, so students from Europe and North America will probably enjoy life in the city. You’ll never be bored if you choose to study in Hong Kong!

study abroad China


study abroad China

The city of Hangzhou is the smallest city on this list. This may be an incentive for international students who are looking for a little less hustle and bustle. This is another city with a lot of history, so there’s plenty to see while you’re there! If you go, be sure to visit the West Lake. This freshwater lake has inspired a variety of artists, and the beauty won’t be lost on you either!


Last, by certainly not least, we have Chengdu. This city is only slightly larger in population than Hangzhou, but it has its own unique culture and history. It is home to attractions such as the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and others that will keep you busy and constantly learning.  This charming city is the perfect place to study and learn Chinese, meet new friends, and taste new food. Chengdu has a host of notable universities including Sichuan University, Chengdu University, and the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics.

study abroad China


If you want to expand your horizons by studying in a new culture, look no further than the People’s Republic of China. This nation boasts a variety of world renowned universities, many of which have programs of study for international students. Each of the five cities in this article has qualities that attract international students. Once you find the one that’s right for you, you’ll be abroad having the time of your life before you know it.

Interested in learning more about places to visit in China? Check out our blog post on the Top 5 Places to Visit in China or our article about what makes Beijing such a great place to study Mandarin!

Getting serious about coming to China to study Mandarin or do an internship? Get started today with one of our award-winning programs!

Contributed by David Smith