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Beijing Normal University - L&C Summer + Fall

This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.

Remember to also visit the Participants section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
Click a heading below to see section content.
Your UCEAP Network
Academic Information
Program Overview
The focus of this program is on Chinese language study. There are a limited number of courses offered in English each year. Students who are fluent in Chinese may take regular Beijing Normal University (BNU) courses taught in Chinese in select departments.
The program begins with a required summer intensive language program (ILP) at Beijing Normal University (BNU).

Summer Intensive Language Program (ILP)

Writing and conversational courses are offered at several levels of elementary, intermediate, and advanced Chinese language. You will take a language proficiency test at the beginning of the ILP administered by BNU’s College of Chinese Language and Culture. The test assesses listening, speaking, reading, and writing, and determines placement. You may place into different levels for writing and conversation.


  • Language placement exam
  • 12 UC quarter units (two courses worth 6 UC quarter units each)
  • Letter grades for both courses; the pass/no pass option is not permitted

You may use the variable unit option to reduce units (with no reduction in course load) to no fewer than 3 UC quarter units.


Cultural activities and excursions may supplement the classes. In addition, several non-credit elective courses may be available in such areas as calligraphy, Wushu (martial arts), and Chinese cooking. Weekend excursions scheduled by the Study Center may include a weekend trip outside Beijing and various cultural activities around Beijing. 

Following the ILP you have a one- to two-week break before the fall semester at BNU begins.



The College of Chinese Language and Culture (Chinese Language College) at BNU is a teaching and research institute established especially for international students studying Chinese. It employs more than 40 professional teachers and includes a cognitive lab for teaching Chinese as a second language. For students with different levels of language skills, the Chinese Language College also offers a range of elective courses, such as business Chinese, Chinese characters, Chinese culture, ancient and modern literature, and Chinese and foreign education, theory, and methodology.



  • Minimum of 18 UC quarter units
  • Language placement exams

Following the ILP and prior to the fall term, you will take another language test through the Chinese Language College to determine your fall curriculum.  




You will register for your courses after arrival at your host institution and online through MyEAP. Registration processes will be covered by the Study Center during your on-site orientation.



The Study Center can arrange for Chinese student tutors. The tutor can answer questions, correct your writing, and serve as a general resource. The tutors are usually graduate students from the Chinese or English Departments. You must be proactive when working with a tutor; tutors are prepared to help explain what you do not understand, but they are not responsible for re-teaching course material. Past students have found tutors to be helpful both with academic work and as a connection with Chinese society.
Academic Culture

Host University vs. UC Courses

Make a special effort to adapt to the teaching style and requirements of your classes and do not assume that they will be as they are at UC. Approaches vary from teacher to teacher. The most common difference is that students have fewer opportunities for classroom participation; however, this is changing as increasing numbers of the faculty have spent periods of study or research abroad. Teachers generally assume that American students will raise issues; in some cases instructors even require student participation. Be sensitive to the cultural norms of Chinese teaching and the individual attitudes of instructors.
Even if you have a high level of Chinese language ability, expect to have some difficulty understanding Chinese university instructors, some of whom have regional accents, speak rapidly, or use specialized terminology. Approaching this situation as a challenge rather than a frustration will enhance your success and enjoyment in China.
In the language courses, you may find the Chinese teaching methodology different from UC. In some courses, there is more focus on memorizing conversations and reading drills than there is on freestyle speaking and conversations. The majority of the courses are also heavily focused on learning characters.
Exercise self-discipline and initiative, and organize your time and activities to give priority to your academic work. Your academic experience will depend on the interest and diligence you put into it. Be prepared to independently invest time and thought in each class. The course materials are likely to be less structured and less clearly outlined than in UC courses. Week-by-week syllabi with specific reading assignments are rare.
Course Information

​Intensive Language Program (ILP)

Chinese in mainland China is taught using pinyin Romanization and standard simplified Chinese characters. Placement exams, texts, newspapers, and signage are in simplified characters. If your background is in traditional script (complex characters), you are urged to prepare for this adjustment.


  • You will attend classes with UC BNU Summer Language and Culture, BNU fall, and Peking year students.
  • Classes are with UC students only.
  • Class size averages between 10 and 20 students; some classes may be even smaller depending on the enrollment for the program. 
  • Classes meet in the mornings for four hours per day, five days a week over the six weeks for a total of 120 hours.
  • One class focuses on conversation and listening; the other on reading and writing.
  • Tutors provide individual or group tutoring in the afternoons or evenings.


Language instruction is provided through the Chinese Language College with an emphasis on reading and speaking. Classes generally have 12 to 15 students, including students from other countries. Those who get lower scores on the language test primarily take language study, normally a minimum of three Chinese language courses each term for about four hours per day.

You may also register for one elective in the Chinese Language College. If you have adequate language skills (determined by the language test), you may register for one elective in a regular university department. Recent Chinese Language College electives taught in Chinese include Business Chinese, Chinese Social Conventions, Modern Chinese Literature, Classic Novels, Modern Chinese Economy, and Current Events.
If you have advanced language ability (usually three years or more), you are encouraged to enroll in BNU’s regular university classes taught in Chinese. History, biology, Chinese culture and society, and economics are popular choices.
You must score at a certain level on the language test to take regular university courses. Those with fewer than three years of university-level Chinese language instruction will probably not score high enough to take regular courses.
The courses offered vary each term and year. Online preregistration for classes in China is not possible for international (non‑degree) students. There are limited published course catalogs, but university departments increasingly have listings of their courses online. There is no universal standard of accuracy or thoroughness in this regard, and it is rare to find published schedules of classes much in advance of any given term.
At the beginning of each term, lists of courses are available in the individual departments. You must consult the list at the department; unless you are registered in that department, you may not duplicate or purchase it.
Detailed host university course information is not available in advance; therefore, if you want to take regular host university courses, you will need to wait until after arrival to get approval for your UC major or other requirements. Be patient and flexible with your course choices.
Internships for academic credit, called UCEAP Special Study Projects, require a substantial academic component in addition to the work with the sponsoring organization.
Volunteer, non-credit (and usually non-paid) internships may be arranged by enterprising students. If you are interested in seeking an internship, set aside time to research the Internet on possible options before leaving the U.S., and be sure to bring your résumé to distribute. Many organizations (with the possible exception of those with English-teaching positions) are looking for students with Chinese language ability who will be in Beijing more than a few months. Thus, students on the year programs may have an easier time finding internships.
UCEAP students have worked at such high-profile Beijing organizations as CNN, the U.S. Embassy, Disney, and Beijing Television, or with such non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as UNESCO and the United Nations World Food Program. In the past, the U.S. Commercial Service office in Beijing has sought interns to conduct market research reports, to research specific industries, and to work on other projects as needed. Some students find opportunities to teach English at various schools and professional language training centers. The UCEAP Study Center may be able to suggest appropriate possibilities based on previous internships held by UC students and a list of American firms operating in Beijing.
Exams and Grading

​At Beijing Normal University, if you miss one-third of the classes for a course, you will not receive credit and will receive an “F” grade.
Although practices vary, regular university courses usually have one midterm exam and one final exam or written report. Most instructors do not give frequent short quizzes, although some do. Homework may or may not be graded, but you will be penalized if you miss assignments or submit poor or incomplete homework.
Attendance is taken in Chinese language classes, and absences result in a lower or failing grade. Attendance policies are determined by the school and the instructor; it is your responsibility to know the policy for each course.
Exams in the language curriculum often are made up by staff, not necessarily in close consultation with the teacher. Tests are standardized for each level and may not always cover material exactly as it was provided in class.
In regular university courses outside the language curriculum, the tests are made up by the instructor. The instructor may permit an international student to do a term paper in lieu of the final exam or allow a longer period for writing the exam. At the beginning of classes, inform your instructors about your status as an exchange student. In general, tests require more rote memorization than UC exams.
Exam dates are not negotiable; they cannot be changed.
Questioning an instructor about your test scores or grades in China must be done very delicately if at all. First discuss your concerns and questions with the UCEAP Study Center. 


Grades for this program are usually reported in mid- to late January. Reporting varies depending on the Chinese New Year holiday.


For more information about grades, see the Academic Information chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.


Extending UCEAP Participation
Cultural Awareness
Educate Yourself
"Try to leave behind your Western notions of the world and try to think of new behaviors in Chinese terms. It will make you more understanding and tolerant." - UCEAP Student
Social Conduct
Improve Your Language Skills
Chinese in mainland China is taught using pinyin Romanization and standard simplified Chinese characters. Placement exams, texts, newspapers, and signage are in simplified characters. If your background is in traditional script (complex characters), you are urged to prepare for this adjustment.
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation

Official UCEAP Start Date

Travel Planning
Travel to Your Host Country
Travel Documents
The “F” visa is recommended for fall students. It does not require a physical health exam. The duration of the “F” visa can be up to 180 days, at the discretion of the consulate. You can request a single-, double-, or multiple-entry visa. However, the consulate determines the type of visa issued. If you only have a single-entry visa and wish to travel outside of the Chinese mainland (including trips to Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan ) during the term, you will need to pay for a reentry permit each time you return. Contact your local Chinese consulate for details.
Students with Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan passports must obtain “home visit permits” to enter China and do not need to apply for a visa. Contact your local Chinese consulate for more information. 
Packing Tips
Return Travel
You cannot leave the academic program before your exams are officially over. Remember that Christmas is not a national holiday in China. You are not permitted to ask for a change in exam dates to accommodate your holiday travel schedule or because of non-refundable plane tickets. See the program calendar on the UCEAP website for departure dates.
Financial Information
Understanding Your Finances
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Handling Money Abroad
At BNU, there is a Bank of China international ATM south of the Lanhui Gongyu dorm. There is another ATM beside the east gate of BNU (on campus). You can find HSBC ATMs about four to five blocks from the BNU campus (near Carrefour). Other international ATMs are located wherever foreigners frequent, such as the Lufthansa Center or the China World Hotel.
Communications Abroad
Internet Access
Each dorm room for international students at BNU has Internet access. If you take a laptop, you can open an Internet account with your student ID for a monthly fee of about RMB 60. There are also two computer labs on the BNU campus available for an hourly fee. The Beijing Study Center will help you set up a BNU Internet account upon arrival. It takes about a week to complete the process.
Mail & Shipments
Housing & Meals

Summer Intensive Language Program (ILP)

During the summer, you will live at BNU in an on-campus dormitory for international students in double rooms (two UC students to a room). The newly renovated Lanhui Gongyu dorm offers a daily cleaning service, frequent sheet laundry, and all bedding and sheets are provided. Rooms have private bathrooms with a shower and toilet, TV, air-conditioning, and a small safe for storing valuables. Each room in the Lanhui Gongyu has two beds, two desks and lamps, a small refrigerator, bookshelf space, and a wardrobe closet. There is a card-activated telephone in each room that you can use to make off-campus calls within the city. With a calling card purchased in China (such as the IP card), you can also use the room phone to make international calls. Most students buy cell phones after arrival. You cannot cook in the rooms in the Lanhui Gongyu.
All UC students are housed in the same dorm (often with entire floors dedicated to UC students). UC students are assigned other UC students as roommates. Since there is no housing application for the summer, it is not possible to request a specific roommate. However, if you arrive at the same time as a friend on the program, you can request to live together, or you may ask for specific UC roommate assignments during check-in.
You are responsible for paying a deposit and the total cost of the room to Lanhui Gongyu in cash (RMB) immediately upon arrival at check-in or within five business days after the check-in. Travelers checks and credit cards are not accepted. The amount you need to pay will be given in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist in the spring.

Fall Semester 

You can live on campus in a foreign student dorm. Rooms may be double or single, and most will have a private bathroom with a shower and toilet, TV, air-conditioning, card-operated telephone, and small safe for storing valuables. Some dorms will have a suite of rooms that share a bathroom. You will also find small convenience stores, restaurants, and coffee shops in the dorms (one even has a McDonald’s).
There are many different types of rooms, so carefully read your options and choose the room that best fits your needs. Most UCEAP students prefer the newer LiYun (No. 3 international students dorm) even though they are a bit more expensive than the older dorms. These dorms are hotel-like in both quality and amenities (daily cleaning service, frequent sheet laundry, etc.).
BNU will provide detailed information about housing options and how to apply for them online when they send the admission letter and JW202 form. You will apply for your housing online; be sure to apply as soon as possible for the best chance at your first choice. If you miss the deadline, there is nothing the Study Center can do to help. Visit the BNU housing website for more details and descriptions of the housing choices. You will not know the room number until you check in.
For the fall, you can choose roommates when you check in. You can request to live with a foreign student or a UC student. Japanese and Korean roommates have been popular with recent UCEAP students and can provide useful Chinese language practice.
Details about fall dorm costs will be provided when you get your admission letter and JW202 form. Travelers checks, personal checks, and credit cards are not accepted for payment.
You may submit a request to change rooms during the first two weeks of the term. Approval will be subject to room availability. After two weeks, you will be expected to pay the entire fall term dorm fee in cash directly to BNU. If you decide to move out later on, you will be charged for an additional two weeks.  

With Study Center approval, students may live off campus in private apartments during the semester. However, not all private apartments are properly registered with the Chinese government and the police may evict students who live in illegal housing. You must follow the Study Center’s advice, exercise caution, find reputable and safe accommodations, and register with the police. The landlord is required to accompany you to the police station and to provide a copy of the lease and apartment ownership papers.

Be cautious when using “private” agents to help you find housing. UCEAP recommends that you consult with the Study Center before making a deposit or entering into any agreement to avoid scams.
Dorm Safety
Lanhui Gongyu has washing machines on the fifth and seventh floor. Students use a prepaid card that includes a deposit. When you leave the dorm at the end of the program, return the card and the dorm will return the deposit. In other BNU dorms, past students have made arrangements to have a machine available, but there are also coin- or card-operated washing machines. Cards for the washers in the new LiYun dorm have a similar cost, with deposit. 

On campus, there are numerous student cafeterias (about five) where you need to use a prepaid meal card, which the Study Center will help you obtain. The 20 RMB card deposit can be returned when you return the card. Head out any campus gate and you’ll have a short walk to countless restaurants.
There are two places to eat conveniently located in the Lanhui Gongyu, but do not limit yourself to these slightly more costly options. The dining hall cafeteria is clean and normally crowded during lunch (try to get there early for best choices). Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are available. There is also a restaurant at the Lanhui Gongyu, with sit-down meals, but it is more expensive than the cafeteria. On the second floor is a small convenience store, popular for ice cream and snacks.
Daily Life Abroad
Local Transportation
Extracurricular Activities

Gym Facilities

Various athletic facilities are on the BNU campus, including basketball courts, volleyball courts, badminton courts, and the running track and field near the Lanhui Gongyu. These facilities are free for students. The tennis court and some facilities inside the gymnasium are charged by the hour. There is a pool in the Qiujiduan Gym on campus. You can purchase a monthly card or quarterly card but there are some time restrictions on use of the pool. Other gyms are available in the city at varying prices.
Students with Disabilities
Travel Sign-out Form

Post-Summer Break

The Study Center may be able to store your bags at the Study Center Office at Peking University. In the past, Lanhui Apartment has also helped store students’ bags for the price of RMB 4 per piece of luggage per day. Since you will be staying at BNU for the fall, you may be able to leave your possessions in your dorm room during the vacation period and pay the normal daily room rate. More details will be provided toward the end of the summer before vacation.
Work in China
LGBT Students
​It was only in 1997 that homosexuality was decriminalized in China and a little more than a decade ago since it was removed from the list of mental illnesses. The dark years of complete stigmatization of homosexuality, the practice of which was punishable by prison time, had finally lifted, and China’s cosmopolitan cities like Beijing and Shanghai now boast robust LGBT communities, complete with support groups, bars and an array of gay meeting places.
For all the new freedoms and tolerance, homosexuality remains stigmatized throughout most of the country. A 2013 Pew poll found that 57% of China's population was against the acceptance of homosexuality and only 21% in favor.
Attitudes and tolerance toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons vary from country to country, just as they vary among U.S. cities and states.  Most LGBT travelers encounter no problems while overseas, but it helps to be prepared and research your destination before you go. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of State website, LGBT Travel Information and read the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Student Life chapter, Diversity section.  
UCEAP Insurance
Staying Healthy
Local Medical Facilities
UCEAP strongly recommends that you have an emergency credit card on hand or quick access to cash in case of an emergency.
Physical Health
Prescription Medication
Mental Health
Health Risks
Contact Lenses
Drinking Water
Air Quality
Staying Safe
Minimize Risk
There are steps you can take to manage or minimize risk. Stop and think. Inform yourself of risks you can encounter while traveling.Talk to returnees and learn firsthand the things to avoid. Follow the Study Center staff advice.​ Remain aware of your surroundings.Cell phones and Ipods can be distracting. When you remain aware of your surroundings your instinct will alert you to conditions or persons that are potentially unsafe. Trust your instincts.

Counterfeit Currency

Counterfeit currency is a significant concern in China.    Cab drivers and businesses have given many people, not just tourists, counterfeit currency.  Carrying small bills or using exact change, particularly in taxis, can help protect you.
Some merchants will switch a large bill with a counterfeit bill and return it to you, claiming that you passed them the counterfeit bill.   If you must pay with RMB 100 bills, it may be useful to note the last few serial numbers before paying in case they get switched.   There have been cases of people receiving counterfeit bills from free-standing ATMs.  Use only ATMs at financial institutions or those recommended by the Study Center.
Crime & Prevention
Civil Unrest
Traffic & Transportation Safety
Personal Emergency Plan
UCEAP Contingency Planning
Natural Disasters
Fire Safety
In An Emergency
The University of California, in accordance with applicable Federal and State law and University policy, does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, pregnancy,* disability, age, medical condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to the campus Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action office.

* Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.