UND China Summer Study Abroad Program FAQ
What is this program all about?
This program is about learning about China by exploring China in person. It’s about combining academic knowledge from the classroom with practical knowledge from traveling. One of the overarching goals of the program is for students to feel comfortable with international travel, especially in international work situations. Having this kind of program on your resume signals to employers that you are the kind of ambitious, independent person who will be an asset to their company.
Why does UND promote studying abroad so heavily? What good will it do for me?
Many students who study abroad describe the experience as life-changing. Immersing yourself in a culture different from the one in which you grew up forces you to think in new ways. It challenges your assumptions about the world and broadens the depths of your firsthand knowledge.
Having study abroad experiences on your resume signals to employers that you are ambitious, independent, capable of tackling challenges, and interested in the world. Such qualities are especially important in our increasingly globalized world wherein companies often send employees on work trips abroad.
Many students like that UND’s China study abroad program is only three weeks long, not an entire semester like many other programs. The trip begins at the start of the summer session, leaving the rest of the summer open for other opportunities. If this particular program does not fit your needs, consider contacting the Office of International Programs. They can tell you about all kinds of possibilities for studying abroad.
How are the three classes structured?
Students take three classes for this program. One class is taught on the UND campus in the spring semester before the trip. The other two classes are completed in China during the summer but are not classroom based. The summer classes focus on site visits and independent fieldwork projects.
The spring class is organized with several goals in mind. First, students need to be familiar with Chinese history and culture. We accomplish this by watching numerous documentaries and by reading and discussing several books. Second, students need to be able to explore an area of interest that relates to their own goals or personal interests. A large part of the spring class involves students doing independent background research on subjects of their choice. This background research will later be combined with fieldwork in China as the basis for an academic paper. Third, students need practical skills in traveling internationally. To this end, the spring class addresses obtaining Chinese visas, booking flights, learning basic phrases in Mandarin, avoiding tourist scams, exchanging currency, mapping out itineraries, and many other practical skills needed for the time spent in China.
One of the summer classes is essentially a sight-seeing class. Yes, you get UND credits for sight-seeing in China! Students are required to write a daily field journal of their experiences and reflections. They also complete a creative project related to the trip. This may involve photography, videography, short stories, blog writing, or any other kind of creative project in which they can share their experiences or knowledge.
The second summer class focuses on fieldwork. After doing background research and developing a research project in the spring, students spend some of the time in China implementing their research projects. This may include site visits and/or interviews. Students are encouraged to make connections with appropriate people before the trip. The faculty leaders also arrange for UND students to meet with Chinese students at several universities, which can lead to more connections. Upon completing the trip, students then write an academic paper to fulfill the requirements of the course. This paper has the potential to be a fantastic writing sample for future applications for jobs, graduate schools, etc.
What kinds of topics have past students researched?
Past students have conducted fieldwork on a wide array of topics. Here is a sampling: the process of finding marriage partners in China, Chinese views on adoptions, daily choices that contribute to healthy living, deaf cultures, perceptions and treatment of veterans, perceptions of the Great Wall, employee engagement, perceptions of the education system, and the marketing of tourism in China.
Is China safe? Is it safe for women?
The parts of China we are visiting are quite safe for foreigners. The precautions recommended for China are similar to the kinds of precautions one would take in traveling around Europe. Safety concerns for women are similar to the U.S. The spring class will cover some specific travel precautions, including common scams.
How much independence do students have?
The class moves from city to city together. In Beijing we have about 3 days of groups tours and about 4-5 days for which students choose their own itineraries and travel in small groups or by themselves. Our time in Xi’an is largely group tours but does includes some independent time. Our approximately 8 days in Shanghai are almost all determined by students’ choices. We will meet with Chinese students at several universities, but otherwise students develop their own itineraries for Shanghai.
Students who are comfortable being independent are able to do so on this trip. The faculty leaders are available to accompany students on excursions. Anyone not wanting to go out alone does not have to.
How much is airfare?
Last year students were able to secure round-trip airfare from Winnipeg to Beijing for about $750. Traveling from Grand Forks or Fargo will be about twice that. Airfare is not included in the program fee. Many students decide to fly to other parts of Asia after the program; flights among Asian cities tend to be relatively cheap.
Do we travel to China as a group?
Students arrange for their own flights. We discuss choosing flights in the spring class. Students can make their own flight itineraries or may choose the same itineraries as other students or as the faculty leaders. Students need to be in Beijing by May 15th, which is when the program starts.
How much money should students plan to spend while in China?
Estimates for how much money students will spend in China vary greatly, depending on the interests of the students. Students should plan on having around $75 for subway fare and taxis. Entrance fees and entertainment typically runs around $120 but can be lower or higher depending on the activities chosen. Eating local food can reduce the meal costs considerably. Students can purchase meals for just a few dollars but can also spend amounts similar to meals in the U.S. Many students enjoy haggling in the markets where items can be bought quite cheaply. Students may want to create a budget for themselves for this expense.
Can I use financial aid to help cover the costs of the program?
Students can request an increase in their financial aid packages due to an increase in the cost of attendance. It is recommended that students meet with an advisor in the financial aid department to see if they qualify for increased aid. Please contact Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org for a cost of attendance form specific to the trip.
Students can also take advantage of UND’s financial wellness office to discuss how to make a study abroad trip financially feasible.
Are there any grants or scholarships available to help cover the program fee?
Yes. Students should contact their departments to see what money may be available. The College of Business and Public Administration often offers travel grants to students with a declared major in the college. Languages also offers travel grants.
How many students go on the trip?
The program aims to have 10-12 students per year.
I’m not a business major. Can I still join the program?
YES! The program is open to all students, regardless of major. The program has a special focus on business, but the program overall is quite broad in scope. Students choose their own topics for their fieldwork projects, which makes the program applicable to anyone’s interests.
What year in college is a good year to study abroad?
Typically sophomore year or higher is best for studying abroad. This particular trip is quite focused on independent work. It is often best for students to have at least one year of college-level classes before joining the program.
Will it be a problem that I don’t speak Mandarin?
Students do not have to speak Mandarin to go on the trip. Students will learn some basic phrases in the spring class. Students have had some success using translation apps. One of the faculty leaders speaks Mandarin and will be available for assisting in translations. The Chinese students we meet at Chinese universities typically speak English quite well, though many people students will interact with in public do not speak English. Learning to communicate despite language barriers is one of the learning goals of the trip. Should your work send you to another country, you may not be able to learn the local language before your trip. Learning to adapt is a great life skill.
What does a typical day in the program look like?
On a day in which we have a group tour, we load up on a tour bus in the morning, spend most of the day on our tours (including lunch), and then return to the hotel in the late afternoon or early evening so students have time to write in their journals. Days for which we do not have a group tour are quite different. After students are secure in having local currency, subway cards, and knowledge of how to use the subway and taxis, students follow their own itineraries. For example, a group of students may choose to take the subway to the Pearl Tower, explore the tower and surrounding area for several hours, find a place for lunch, take the subway to one of the fabulous gardens, spend an hour exploring the garden, find a place for dinner, then take the subway back to the hotel to write in their field journals. We typically have a group meeting in the evening to check in on everyone’s day.
Can I talk with a student who has been on the trip in past years?
Yes! Please email Angela at email@example.com to be connected with a student who has completed the program. The Office of International Programs also offers a general mentor program for students wishing to study abroad.
How will these credits count towards my major/minor?
How the credits count depends on your major. Your advisor will able to provide you with specifics. The classes are all 300-level classes, so they do count as upper-level electives. Students may use the credits towards a minor in International Business, a minor in Chinese Business, or a major in Chinese Studies.
How do I apply?
Students apply online through the Office of International Programs. You can access the application through their homepage at und.edu/studyabroad (click on the “China Study Program Application” button on the homepage) or through a shortcut link at http://goo.gl.obXfci.
Who do I contact with more questions?
You can contact Angela Harrison-Urlacher at firstname.lastname@example.org with further questions. She is happy to answer questions through email or to meet with you in person. You can also attend an informational meeting on Thursday, November 10th at 3:30pm in Gamble Hall room 280.