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College is full of once-in-a-lifetime chances to network, find a mentor, learn the classics and make lasting friends. But maybe the biggest opportunity of all is the possibility of immersing yourself in a new culture, learning about it from the inside-out, and taking on new challenges. Studying abroad can prove very beneficial to college graduates when searching for a job. The skills developed through international experience, cultural adaptation and possibly learning a new language are valuable assets to a resume. China is a very popular destination for studying abroad and, as a large powerful country, beneficial to young aspiring business professionals.

From the Great Wall to the Yangtze River, China has some of the most memorable attractions in the world. More than just picking a country, packing a bag, and heading off to research, studying abroad should be well-planned no matter which sites you’re planning on seeing. The following are key considerations to think about before you hop on a plane:

Legal Documents

When you’re traveling and living abroad, your passport is your life, and you’ve got to protect it. Keep it with you, and protect it from spills and tears by storing it in a protective case. Leave copies with family and friends in case you misplace anything, and make sure any visa you obtain is good for at least six months. If you misplace these documents you may be subject to identity fraud, so it’s a good idea to invest in identity theft protection like Lifelock. A company like this will monitor your information round the clock and report any suspicious activity. It’s an added peace of mind that is much needed for a smooth transition overseas.

Language and Culture

Are you studying abroad in China because you want to learn the language? Depending on the region of China you visit, the language can change. From local dialects to new slang, Chinese isn’t just one language. The best thing to do is to research the area of China you’re going to and brush up on what form of their language they speak.

Culture shock has many benefits, including immersing yourself in history, tradition, food, and arts of a country. Being open to China’s rich historical and artistic background and traditions will add to a memorable experience. Don’t be afraid to do as the locals do and get involved in some traditional customs. And always remember to Instagram your adventures.

School or Scam?

You’re going to another country to learn about the people and the culture, but that doesn’t mean you’re not there to hit the books too. Unfortunately, some schools don’t deliver on the academic part of the bargain. Most schools are legit, but avoid the ones that don’t have entrance requirements for foreign students, don’t accept standard tests like the GRE or TOEFL, or are unaccredited. They’re probably just portals for foreigners with student visas. Remember: the burden is on you to make sure you’re taking legitimate credits that your U.S. school can accept.

Health and Safety

To stay safe and healthy when you’re studying abroad, you need to be attuned to your environment. Learn all you can about the laws and culture of your destination. Many places have religious and cultural norms that are very different from the U.S. when it comes to things like how to dress in public places, and men and women may be held to different standards.

Be sure you have health insurance that will meet your needs, and verify that it covers medical evacuation. Understand the specifics of where you’ll be living, like whether you can drink the water and how food is prepared. Get all your immunizations in advance, and be aware of crime rates.

Staying Connected

If it’s important for you to be able to connect with family and friends back home, and you know a calling card isn’t going to cut it, then check into cell phone availability. Most of the rest of the world uses Global Service for Mobile (GSM) technology, and that may be different that what you’re currently using. So you may need to rent or buy a GSM phone and a pre-paid SIM card. Don’t forget to check coverage maps and if you’re a big texter or heavy smartphone user, look at data rates.

Will you be studying abroad in China (or anywhere?) Let us know!


This is a guest post by Erin Griffin. Erin is an award-winning magazine editor and writer with 10 years of experience. She is working on her first book, a mystery novel, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.