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CU Denver takes China

An experience that transcends all boundaries

Almost every university talks about the importance of studying abroad. It offers students a one-of-a-kind experience where they get to broaden their horizons within their educational careers. While CU Denver offers a plethora of study abroad programs, the trip to China sets itself apart.

CU Denver offers students the opportunity to spend a semester, year, or more at the International College of Beijing (ICB) in Beijing, China. As a sort of “sister school,” ICB offers full degree programs in communications and economics for CU Denver students, and minors in a variety of disciplines including, math, philosophy, and international studies. Undergrads and graduates alike can dabble in some additional courses such as, English, history, political science, and accounting. Basically, there’s a little bit of something for everyone.

Illustration by Alex Gomez

Additionally, there are CU Denver faculty over in China who teach their classes in English. While it doesn’t hurt to learn a few Mandarin phrases, it’s not required. ICB offers free Mandarin classes for students to learn enough to get around while they spend their time there, and it’s worth taking them up.

But what’s really unique about this program is that students at ICB have the chance to come to CU Denver to study as well. While those students have to know a little bit of English, they also have the opportunity to earn either a communications and economics degree.

Talking about this program is one thing, but it’s students and faculty who have experienced China firsthand and came back with stories to share that will make students want to pack their bags and head out.

Kirsten Lindholm is a communication professor who is also the China Operations Coordinator and oversees the daily operations of the semester in Beijing program. Professor Lindholm has spent five years in Beijing and encourages all students to take this trip. “One of the reasons I was over there for so long is because it’s so inexpensive. The total cost of the trip is way cheaper than what you would spend in tuition money here at CU,” said Lindholm. “There are scholarships available to pay for your airfare, your financial aid will go toward your tuition at ICB, and you can get meals for like $2.”

As far as campus life goes, living accommodations are a luxury for CU students. Students live with one roommate, and their dorms are furnished and include a living room and full kitchen. Some courses will even take students on adventurous excursions like The Forbidden City, Chengdu (also known as The Panda City), and even The Great Wall—to let out the inner tourists. Who said you can’t have your cake and eat it too? “There’s so much to see that no matter how long you’re there you’ll just scratch the surface. Usually students end up extending their trip. They’ll go for a semester and decide they want to stay there for another semester or even a couple of years,” said Lindholm.

But studying abroad isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.There are some challenges both students and faculty face. “Communication can be hard sometimes as far as the language barrier goes, and pollution can get pretty bad, but they are working to improve it,” said Lindholm. “But I think all of this is what makes it exciting. I had this image of what China was like in my mind, but it’s way more futuristic and modern and the opposite of what many people might think.”

The best way for students to make the most out of their experience is to put themselves out there and make friends with the Chinese students at ICB. For example, Connor Best, who is currently studying at ICB. “You have to take the initiative to get to know the people around here or you won’t be able to connect with anyone very well. But once you do make friends, places like Wudaokou— an extremely vibrant and fun area due to the proximity of other universities around—will make your experience nearly impossible to be bored, and you get to enjoy it with the people around you,” Best said.

For the adventurous souls out there looking for a challenge, consider taking a semester out in China. Every single day feels like an accomplishment in itself. It’s a country that takes students out of their comfort zones, and the way the program is structured allows students to connect with a diverse group of people; there’s never a dull moment. Applications for next year are due on April 15.

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