Six reasons why you should study in China to start learning Chinese Mandarin

Cultural chinese street with a lot of signs that help learning chinese mandarin
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Six reasons why you should study in China to start learning Chinese Mandarin

This is definitely the number one reason why you should come study in China for some time. Learning Chinese mandarin is exciting, but a very challenging one also. As the first months aren’t as rewarding as one might think, many foreigners quickly give up on learning. I remember the firsts 10 characters I had to learn, it took me a whole afternoon to be able to (painfully) re-write the first 5. Another drawback of the first months is that people can barely understand what you are trying to say, and you have absolutely no idea what they are saying.

But if one goes through this first difficult period, they are in for an amazing adventure. After a couple months, the learning Chinese Mandarin experience becomes very fulfilling, and Chinese people finally understand what you are trying to say. For someone who has been using a 26-letter alphabet since birth, it is quite overwhelming to realize that in order to read a newspaper, one has to learn more or less 3000 characters, but if you have the patience to learn them, a new world will open up for you. Learning Mandarin will boost your memory, and enable you to speak to one fifth of the world’s population. Although most Chinese often speak in dialects (such as Shanghainese), majority of them understand and can speak Mandarin, and if you leave the big cities, they will be quite amazed by the foreigners who took the time to learn their language.

2. Witness China’s development from the first row

China’s development during the last 35 years is unprecedented in World’s history. Witnessing it from inside the country is fascinating and eye-opening. Most people don’t realize how much China has developed, and still see China as a very rural country. However, by the end of 2012, for the first time, the number of Chinese living in urban areas amounted to 712 million, representing 52.6% of the population.

In 1990, this percentage only amounted to about 25%. This fast development has been supported by clusters of cities, creating giant urban areas. 

Cultural chinese street with a lot of signs that help learning chinese mandarin

The most famous ones are: The Pearl River Delta, regrouping the cities of Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhaoqing, Hong-Kong, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Macau, Dongguan and Jiangmen and accumulating a population of about 120 million inhabitants (more or less the population of Mexico) and the Yangtze River Delta, regrouping the cities of Shanghai, Wuxi, Changzhou, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Nanjing, Suzhou, home of a combined population of about 85 million (roughly the population of Germany).

These facts can easily be found on the Internet, but being able to witness the speed of development from within is astonishing. Roads are being built and skyscrapers rise from the ground; every day, the city is being remodeled in front our eyes. More and more people are accessing the middle class, and filling the numerous shopping malls that appear on the corner of every street. Of course, China still has a rural side that is less developed than this urban life picture I am depicting, but overall the country has been investing in most regions to develop roads, railways, and transportation systems. For someone coming from a developed country, it is partly fascination and partly scary. Fascinating to see a country develop so fast in front of one’s eyes and scary to see that on many aspects they are doing things bigger, better and faster than developed countries. I would advise anyone to come and witness it for themselves. It’s a great thing to experience while Learning Chinese mandarin

Couple walking into chinese temple while learning chinese mandarin

3. Confront Yourself to a millennia-old culture

Learning Chinese mandarin while exploring Chinese culture, doesn’t that sound great? Chinese culture has a 5000-year history and is one of the richest in the world. Although the country is modernizing at a fast pace, many traditional aspects still remain very visible in the everyday life.

An interesting is to go for a walk-in park during the weekend. Many people regroup there, starting in the early morning, to practice a wide array of activities. Two of the most popular and highly representative of China are Taichi and Calligraphy. Taichi is one of the most well-known martial arts around the world.

It is often practice early in the morning in the parks and is believed to have many health benefits, such as improving balance and general psychological health. Calligraphy is a very important and appreciated art in China. It is basically the design and execution of Chinese characters, usually with a brush on some paper, but some people also practice it in parks with water on stoned floors

4. Discover Chinese Cuisine

Chinese cuisine is one of the most varied in the world. Each region has its own principal taste and specialties. This is something that stroked me when I arrived, the diversity of the food. Back home, Chinese restaurant are all the same and all propose roughly the same dishes (Hello Sweet and Sour Pork). However, in China, each restaurant proposes the food from one province. And the differences between all of them are huge. One of the most easily recognizable is the spicy food from Sichuan province, but it’s just one of many. One of the tastiest (and cheapest) food comes from Lanzhou, in Gansu province. The La Mian shops daily produce fresh noodles, which you can either eat in a soup or sautéed. This is only a short overview, but if you are a foodie, China definitely is the place for you!

5. Develop Global Mindset

Coming to China is a great way to become a world citizen. When I first arrived in Shanghai, I thought that I would learn about Chinese culture, and I did, but I also learned about so many different cultures. I had the chance to meet people from all around the world and share with them dinners, birthdays, Christmas Eves, moments of life that I will always remember.

As one of my teachers putted it during one class “Shanghai might be the only place in the world, where someone from Colombia and someone from Germany can have a chat in Mandarin. Take advantage of it”. It might be true for all big cities, but I believe this is especially true here, far away from your home. 

Street in hangzhou filled with chinese signs for learning chinese mandarin

Living in China while Learning Chinese mandarin makes you realize that you are part of a bigger picture, and that the connections you can make throughout the world will be infinitely important in the future as our world becomes increasingly interconnected.

6. Take Advantage of the endless travel Opportunities

If you enjoy travelling, then living in China is great idea to combine with Learning Chinese mandarin. First of all, because it is close to many other countries in Asia. From Shanghai, you can reach Hong-Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, Seoul and Hanoi in about 2-3 hours by plane. But most importantly, the travel possibilities in China are infinite. From the Ice Sculpture Festival in the northern province of Heilongjiang to the sunny beaches of Hainan Island, China has something for every taste. My personal favorites are the province of Yunnan and Inner Mongolia. Yunnan is situated at the south-western extremity of the country. In the south of the province, bordering Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, the famous rice terraces of Yuanyang (see picture at the top of the page) will amaze you every bit. In the North, close from Tibet, the high mountains will take your breath away, whether while walking through the tiger leaping gorges, or spending a couple days in Zhongdian, also known as Shangri La.

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