Overview of China
International students generally live on the school campus dormitory. Sometimes the room is shared, sometimes it is not. Fees vary depending on the school.
If you don’t want to live on campus, you can try to rent a room at someone’s house or rent a place by yourself. Try searching for a flat mate on Chinese websites or English –written magazines. If you want to rent a place, apartments are the most usual housing for both Chinese and foreigners. There are very simple and poor equipped apartments, as well as very well equipped, super high-tech ones. Of course, the better the apartment is, the more expensive it gets. When searching for a place to stay, consider looking for a real estate agency.
If you are going to live with a Chinese person, you should report this to the local Public Service Bureau. The person who is going to share the apartment with you should do the same.
■ Transportation system
Nearly all major cities in China are equipped with subway system. Shanghai is currently running 14 lines with totally 329 stations; Beijing runs 17 lines with 262 stations, with an incredible low ticket price of RMB2 for any distance. Other cities that are worth mentioning are: Guangzhou: currently running 9 lines with 164 stations; Chongqing: currently running 4 lines with 92 stations.
Buses run in major cities as well and China is developing a mass network of high speed railway system connecting its major cities.
Every city has its own special cuisine (such as roast duck in Beijing, beef jerky and sliced chilli Sauce in Chongqing/ Chengdu). We suggest you that to eat these in China because other dishes are normally the same as other Asian countries like Japan or Korea, so they aren’t so unique.
Taobao, the Chinese most famous online shopping site is a great place to find good deals. Once you get used to it, you’ll probably get addicted. There you can find anything, from clothes to stationery, food, cosmetics, and even a rental boyfriend (!).
The Chinese food is well known in almost every country in the world. Each Chinese region and country with Chinese population have its own Chinese style food. Inside China itself the recipes and ingredients have changed along the years, as the imperial expansion advanced, the climate changes, and the fashion dictates what is nice to eat. Social classes and ethnic background also influenced Chinese cuisine. Anyway, some ingredients unite all this nuances and pack everything in what we call Chinese cuisine. They are: rice, noodles, soybeans, wheat, vegetables, and herbs and seasoning. As for drinks, enjoy tea and baijiu (also known as Chinese vodka).
The culture in China has diversity in north and south China. The southern part tends to keep more traditional culture while the northern part dominates the position of modern culture center so the type of Chinese that foreigners learn is mainly Mandarin, which is spoken in Beijing area.
Chinese languages can be briefly divided into seven language groups: Mandarin (with 4 sub-groups), Wu, Xiang, Gan, Hakka, Hokkien (with 5 sub-groups), Cantonese. None of them can communicate with each other in spoken language but the writing system is the same. Hong Kong/ Macau and large portion of south China speak Cantonese/ Hakka, while Hokkien is popular in Southeast China and Taiwan.
China celebrates Chinese New Year according to the traditional calendar, which is usually in January or February.