I’ve been on winter break for about four weeks now, and I’ve been pretty lazy, but I have managed to make some progress planning and applying for my semester abroad, which will happen next fall. It’s going to be fantastic and I’m super excited about it. I may have already written about this, but to summarize, I’m definitely going to go to China next fall to learn about Chinese culture and get better at speaking Chinese. I don’t actually know where in China I’m going to go, but right now I’m thinking Dalian or Kunming. It could also be Beijing or pretty much any other city in China though. This all depends on what scholarships I can get and what programs I get accepted to, which I won’t know until June or July. I have quite a bit of time before most of this stuff is due, but I thought I’d talk some about the application process (as I understand it, which is incompletely) and what my plans are right now. Just a warning, this post is really long, but it’s in sections so you can just skip the ones that don’t sound interesting.
1. Scholarships! What school I go to in China depends pretty heavily on what scholarship I’ll be on. Right now, I have a scholarship at OU, so if I don’t get any additional scholarships for studying abroad, I’ll do a university exchange program through OU. This will allow me to still pay OU tuition, which means I still get to use my current scholarship. My choices for university exchange programs are in Kunming, Beijing, and Xi’an, but I’m leaning towards Kunming because it’s in southern China so it’s warmer (still cold in the winter though), and it has less pollution than either Xi’an or Beijing. My other scholarship option is the Confucius Institute Scholarship, which I haven’t gotten yet, but I think I have at least a reasonable chance. The scholarship would pay tuition, housing, and a monthly stipend, which would obviously be amazing. The Confucius Institute Scholarship can’t be used at every school in China (For example, Yunnan University in Kunming, which is where I will probably go if I don’t get the scholarship) but it supports at least one school in every Chinese province. The scholarship application doesn’t come out until sometime in March, and I won’t know if I got it until summer, so nothing will actually be finalized until the last minute. Anyway, if I get the Confucius Institute scholarship, I want to go to Dalian, which is just a tad bit north of Beijing and on the coast. I have no reason for this except that one of my best friends from high school (who goes to school in Scotland now) is planning on studying there next year, and it would be really cool to see her in China. Of course, I’ll have to be careful to actually become immersed in Chinese culture, and not just hang out with my American friend all the time, but I think I’ll be able to strike a good balance between exploration and comfort.
2. Deadlines: It turns out that deadlines for studying abroad in China are really late, which is good considering I’m going to be waiting until the last minute on scholarships anyway. The earliest deadline I have to meet is for the OU study abroad application, which is due on February 20. The application for the Confucius Institute scholarship isn’t even out yet, and wasn’t out last year until March. It won’t be due until May, so I have plenty of time to improve my HSK scores and polish my essays. I might have to apply to individual Universities in China (I’m not quite sure how the system works yet), and the deadlines for those applications are also really late. The application for one university I looked at in Dalian was due on September 30, a whole month after the start of the semester at the same school. That could be a typo, but deadlines for most other universities I looked at were less than a month from the start of the semester, so maybe not. It’s quite a bit different than when I applied to schools in the US last winter, with their deadlines in January. Speaking of which, I also have to apply to CU so that I can take classes this summer. I might have to finish filling out an entire transfer application, or there might be a non-degree application that’s less involved and does’t have as many essays. I don’t know which because I had them send the summer course catalog and other information to my school address, and I’m at home now, so I don’t have access to whatever they sent. Hopefully it tells me what I need to do though. Anyway, the deadline for that shouldn’t be until February or March.
3. Programs in China: Most Chinese universities have semester non-degree programs geared specifically toward international students learning Chinese. They generally have really small class sizes, and you take Chinese classes for 20 hours a week. A lot of them also have elective courses related to Chinese Culture that you can take as well. I didn’t really know how the whole thing worked and thought it would be much more complicated than that, but it actually looks like it will be fairly straightforward.
4. Where am I going to live??? Next semester I’ll still be living in my dorm, so that’s all set. But I have to find a place to live in Boulder over the summer (I am NOT commuting from Castle Rock. That’s easily 3 hours of driving a day. But I would be willing to sleep in the car or a tent or something). I also have to find a place to live in China (fun fact: dorms in China are really cheap. Like the equivalent of $100 a month. But they also tend to have communal squat toilets and not a lot of the luxuries that I enjoy in my current dorm at OU). Then I have to find a place to live when I get back from China. I don’t particularly want to live in the dorms again, but I guess that can be my backup plan.
5. Other stuff: The semesters in China are based on the Lunar calendar, so fall semester in China typically ends in January. I’m a bit worried that my semester in China will end after the Spring semester at OU starts, but hopefully not. Most likely, I’ll fly home from China, and start second semester one or two days later. I definitely won’t have any winter break, which is a bit disappointing, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be worth it. I’ll also miss Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and my birthday, which my parents are unhappy about. I’m more concerned that I won’t see any of my friends at OU for an entire summer, and then an entire semester after that. I’m fairly confident that everything will be alright though, the world will keep turning no matter how my semester goes. Anyway, I’d say it’s time to wrap this up and get back to applying for stuff and packing to go back to school. I also need to come up with a cool way to sign off on these posts. For some reason that’s really difficult.