The student exchange experience at Beking University - Part 2: Traveling

By Melody Chang, Class of 2024

Many people ask me: "Do you have a lot of time to go out during the exchange at Peking University? For example, go to other provinces in China?"

For me, I only chose 2 courses (a total of 4 credits). In the first 1-8 weeks, I spent 3 days a week completing the courses. Basically, by the middle and the end of the semester, I have no classes. This means that you are free to use the remaining two months of the semester to go wherever you want.

The purpose of my application for exchange in China is to fulfill my dream of traveling to China. How could I let go of this great opportunity to explore the various provinces in China?

Let me talk about the conclusion first. I spent half a semester in Beijing as an exchange student and visited 12 cities in China in total, covering Inner Mongolia, Qinghai, Guangxi, Xi'an, Yunnan, Chongqing, Chengdu in Sichuan, Beijiang, Dunhuang in Gansu, Harbin, Hangzhou and other regions. I mainly go to inland areas, because I think these places may be difficult to reach if I want to come to China again in the future. Furthermore, the beautiful scenery is all in the northwest.

Halfway through the semester, I visited the Harbin Ice and Snow World, rode yaks by the Qinghai Lake, explored the earthly paradise of Kanas in Xinjiang, experienced both double-board and single-board skiing, savored Sichuan hotpot, saw pandas, toured the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, and marveled at the breathtaking scenery of Guilin. I can only say that the journey was far from over, yet incredibly fulfilling. I am grateful that I made the decision to participate in the exchange program in China.

Tips for traveling in China

Before embarking on my journey to China, I had already listed some long-awaited travel destinations, including Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Qinghai, Harbin, Xi'an, and others. I arranged the itinerary according to the suitable travel seasons in each locality. Given China's vast territory, some northern cities may experience severe winter cold as early as late October. Therefore, if one wishes to admire the beauty of the grasslands, it's best to plan the trip for September.

Here are some travel tips for everyone: Before going on exchange to China, it's advisable to first research places of interest. Utilize social media platforms like Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book) to find recommendations on the best travel seasons and duration for each destination. Then, tailor your itinerary according to your class schedule to ensure a perfect balance between academics and travel.

Someone asked, "What if I can't find a companion to travel to other provinces?"

Traveling with exchange student companions can be challenging due to differences in everyone's class schedules. For instance, a trip to western regions might take 5 to 7 days or even more than a week, making it difficult to find travel partners.

What I want to emphasize is that traveling in China is relatively safe in terms of public security. Even if you can't find classmates to go out with, traveling alone is still very safe. In fact, I travel alone on many trips. I typically stayed in youth hostels or flew directly to the destination and joined local tour groups, which was hassle-free and convenient.

This half-year exchange experience has been a precious memory in my life, opening doors to diverse cultural experiences. If you have the opportunity to study in the GMBA program, don't miss the chance to become an exchange student.

For those interested in studying in China or becoming an exchange student at Peking University, feel free to contact me on Instagram: melody_growth.