Studying in China with Rebecca Liu

I had a great experience getting my degree abroad, but want to know what it’s like in different locations around the world. Today’s post is the first in what will be an ongoing series of interviews with travelers about their study abroad experiences.

Meet Rebecca Liu from Carmel, Indiana: she graduated from Indiana University in 2009 with a biochemistry degree, then spent the summer traveling in Africa. She’s been in Beijing, China since September¬† 2009, working towards an MBA at Beihang University. She’ll complete her degree in January 2012.

Rebecca Liu Great Wall

An MBA's not all hard work: Rebecca on the Great Wall in Mutainyu.


1. How often did you have class? Were classes easier, more difficult, or the same as you expected?

For the first year, I had one or two classes Monday through Friday. The difficulty depended on the professor’s teaching style. I’ve had professors who pulled test questions straight out of the book and I’ve had professors who demanded a large amount of critical thinking from their students. I would say, on average, the classes were easier than I expected. For my whole second year, I’ve been researching and writing my thesis.

2. What surprised you about China?

What surprised me the most is what’s considered ‘normal’ here. No one bats an eye when a child pulls down his pants in the middle of a crowded subway car and starts peeing. No one intervenes or even acknowledges a woman being beaten and dragged through the streets by her irate husband/boyfriend. Then a group of Caucasians walks into a restaurant and everyone’s eyes pop out of their heads.

3. What is your favorite thing about China?

I love how many places there are to explore. China is such a big country, you never run out of places to visit.

4. Least favorite thing?

The people and the pollution. Some of the people tend to be irrational and quick-tempered, which becomes really tiring to deal with. The pollution diminishes my immune system and lung capacity. It also causes black snot.

Rebecca camping Great wall

Camping on the non-renovated portion of the Great Wall.

5. Sum up China in one word.


6. What song reminds you of your time in China?

I Got a Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas because I always hear it at nightclubs here.

7. Did you get to do any other traveling?

Not as much as I would have liked. I’ve mostly done weekend trips to places close to Beijing, like an overnight camping trip to the Great Wall.

8. What is it like coming home?

The first time I went home was the hardest. When you’re gone, you know life at home goes on without you, but it doesn’t really sink in until you see how much has changed and how much you’ve missed out on. However, when I went back this summer for an internship in Chicago, I realized something else: it’s easy to slip back into your old, comfortable life.

9. Do you have any advice for future students in your host country?

Keep your cool. With so much chaos around you, it’s easy to lose yourself. Let the little things – and big things – go. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself hating life in Beijing. Also, travel around as much as you can. It’s dirty, uncomfortable, and the locals will most certainly rip you off, but it’s well worth it.

10. What’s one outstanding memory of your time studying in China?

I was once kicked in the shin by a Chinese taxi driver. It’s a really long story, but just know it was undeserved.


Hanging Temple of Datong

Taken at the Hanging Temple in Datong on "the coldest day of my life."

Got more questions for Rebecca about studying in China? You can email her at

Have you studied or gotten a degree abroad? Want to talk about it? Get in touch!

6 Responses to “Studying in China with Rebecca Liu”

  1. Old Comfortable life..I can’t tell if I should be offended or not?

  2. China is… Uhhhh…. It can be good and bad. It tends to be polar in what it offers anyone visiting or living there. You were right in saying: “chaotic”.


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