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Top Ten Reasons to Study Abroad in China

1. Stand out

Most people follow the crowds to Europe. Head instead for China, where the ancient and the up-and-coming coexist. You'll stand out in a crowd while there--and your resume will draw a second look back home too. But go soon! According to USA Today, there are at least 10,000 U.S. students studying in China each year. If trends continue, China will soon pass study-abroad mainstays like England and Spain.

2. See the (economic) future.

The Chinese economy may overtake the U.S. by 2035 and be twice our size soon after--or so say the wise folks at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. See this economic engine in action, learn what makes it go, and you'll be in a position to grow right along with it.

3. Feel welcome.

The Chinese people are eager to entice Westerners to visit and learn about the wonders of China. You're also likely to encounter sympathetic professors and tutors who have studied in the West and know what it feels like to be in a foreign setting.

4. Travel on the cheap.

The dollar has taken a beating these last few years. Stretch yours by studying in China, where transportation and food are less expensive than in the U.S. or Western Europe.

5. Communicate with the masses.

885,000,000 people speak Mandarin Chinese, more than any other language on the planet. To really master a language, you have to immerse yourself in it. So go ahead, haggle with the shop keepers. It's your homework!

6. Move beyond language.

Studying abroad isn't just about learning the language--it's about understanding a foreign way of thinking. Perhaps you'll catch yourself using a Cheng Yu saying, the Chinese equivalent of our aphorisms like "time is money." Maybe it will become second nature to offer the tastiest tidbit on the table to the eldest guest. Or perhaps you'll pick up tai chi, kung fu, or calligraphy.

7. Eat like an emperor -- or on the street.

China is justly famed for its widely varying regional and ethnic cuisines. But you may find yourself becoming an expert on the nuances of each neighborhood's dumpling stands, noodle shacks and chuar (meat on a stick) vendors.

8. Dig deeper.

China brought paper, the compass, gunpowder and printing to the world. With a history that stretches back nearly 6,000 years, it's no surprise that anthropology, archeology, architecture and art majors will find plenty to float their boats. And that's just the A's.

9. Get out of town.

Nearly all study abroad programs offer short trips to interesting spots on the map. Get up close and personal with pandas, marvel at Mount Everest and walk the Great Wall. When your friend posts her picture of the Eiffel Tower on Facebook, won't it be great to respond with the one of you in the Forbidden City?

10. Challenge yourself.

Maybe you'll bring yourself to tears trying to ask where the bathroom is. It might take months to make a true local friend. That thing you ate could turn out to be a bug. Matt Doran, who studied with IES in Beijing, says, "It’s been the strangest, most challenging, most rewarding, best experience of my life--one I wouldn’t trade for anything." Are you up it?


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