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Student Testimonials: Peking University (PKU)


Name: Haley Zhou

Highlight of my semester abroad:

The people. I was literally surrounded by the brightest minds in China, at least in terms of gaokao (Chinese version of SAT) test scores. They were very much motivated. 

Who I spent most of my time with abroad:

I spent most of my time with local students because I am fluent in Mandarin.  I joined three clubs, they were more than happy to have exchange students onboard. 

If you go, you must:

Download apps such as Dazhongdianping for things to do in China and Meituan for things to eat in China. 

What I would say to students considering participating in IBEX:

GO TO PKU!  Life-changing experience. 

Contact me about PKU:

Haley Zhou -


Name: Derek Lee

Highlight of my semester abroad:

This is a very difficult question because there were so many highlight-worthy moments during my time abroad. Traveling cross-country along the Silk Road to the Great North West and cutting through Inner Mongolia and desert land, I saw firsthand the vast diversity of people and cultures that reside in China. During the winter, I've traveled to the northern border of China, in Heilongjiang province, where it was so cold that my eyelashes froze. And through getting involved in clubs and extracurricular activities, I got to perform with the PKU Hip Hop crew on New Year's Eve in front of the entire school. What I most fondly look back upon, however, is simply the joy and excitement of being in a new place, where everyday encounters and experiences are never the same.

Who I spent most of my time with abroad:

I spent a lot of time with both international students as well as local students. By the nature of the exchange program, it was easy to get to know the other international students through the various organized activities and gatherings. I wasn't able to meet a lot of local students until the club fair rolled around, which was a month after school started. But once it did, I joined lots of clubs like Hip Hop Dance, Ballroom and Latin Dance, Tea Club, Biking Club, etc. As a result, I was able to meet a lot of local students. In the end, I achieved a good balance in spending my time between both my international friends and local friends.

If you go, you must...:

Bring along a desire to meet new people and step out of your comfort zone. Even in an exchange program, it can be easy to fall into a comfortable pattern of hanging out only with international students. Even if you believe that your Chinese level isn't "good enough" to hang out with locals, I would encourage you to muster the courage to get past that mental roadblock. I've definitely seen lots of international students overcome that, and as a result, their Chinese improves greatly.

What I would say to students considering participating in IBEX:

I would encourage students to go on IBEX if they want to be challenged in ways they haven't before and see themselves grow personally. I would also encourage students to go on IBEX if they believe that lifelong experiences, learning, and personal growth are worth more than staying in New York to devote an extra semester to recruiting for an internship.

More Student Insight


  • Housing: $1,500 - $2,500 USD/semester
  • Food: $30 - $50 USD/week
  • Local Transportation: $200 USD/semester
  • Books: $100 USD/semester
  • Entertainment: $40-$50 USD/week
  • Phone: $100-$150 USD/semester
    • "You can get an international cell phone or SIM card for your phone."
    • "You can use Skype, but download it in the US first - otherwise you might have trouble downloading it in China."


  • "Cash! However, I did have a bank card too."


  • "I lived in ShaoYuan which was a guest hotel. It was of average motel quality - a double bedroom with a decent amount of space. There was no meal plan included and it was arranged by the IBEX partner school. Would highly recommend living on campus instead of renting an apartment."
  • "Three of us lived in Zhongguanxinyuan (Peking University International Students Global Village) for about 2700 yuan a month. That's about 400 dollars a month. This is an independent apartment with affiliations to the school where you share a suite with another student. You have your own bedroom, however, which is nice."
  • "Some students lived nearby in Wudaokou, a popular student-hangout region. There are a plethora of restaurants, shops, and convenience stores around there that make eating and living easier."


  • "Course registration was primarily done online. Their Fall course offerings were published about two months before we arrived."
  • "Strengths: A China-focused learning environment where everything we learn fits contextually with China. At the same time, everything is very focused on the "international" perspective and emphasis on cross-cultural learning (very helpful for ISP!). Weakness: English may not have been everyone's strongest language so there were times things were reduced to great simplicity."
  • "Quality of instruction varied (similar to Stern), workload varied (similar to Stern)."

Course Recommendations

  • "My favorite class was Operation Management. The professor was fun, really knew the subject well, and most fluent in English. We went on a company visit to a car factory."
  • "My favorite class was probably China in Transition. It was especially stimulating not because it was a Chinese Economic History 101-type class, but an analysis of China's growth in comparison to the rest of the world."
  • "I loved my Operations Management professor. She was so passionate about the subject. I also recommend Survey of Chinese Culture in Modern China if you are looking for cultural context."

Student Life

  • "I was actively involved with GISA (Guanghua International Students Association), which organizes dinners, events, and a "buddy" system where a local Guanghua student serves as your mentor."
  • "I participated in the International Day as a volunteer and joined a couple of student organizations at PKU."
  • "We socialized mostly with other international students since we all took classes together."
  • "I had never met so many people from all over the world before! It was very easy to meet people given the international appeal PKU has."

Restaurants, Shopping, Must-See Sites

  • "Taiyro (all-you-can-eat teppanyaki grill), Gongti Stadium / Xidan (shopping for souvenirs and fake-merchandise) / Sanlitun (nice bars, restaurants, shopping district) / Wudaokou (near PKU, bars, restaurants, shopping district) / Vix/Mix - most popular clubs in Beijing, Gongti Stadium / Hou Hai - scenic area in Beijing with clubs, bars / Tiananmen Square (should see Mao's Mausoleum, People's Hall) / China Philharmonic (tickets on"
  • "Restaurants -- Sanlitun village, / Shopping areas-- Beijing zoo, Sanlitun village / Clubs--Chaoyang/Worker's Stadium (Vics, Mix, Suzie Wong, etc) / Must-see sites: Summer Palace, 798 Art District Zone / Wudaokou is great for restaurants, international students, cheaper clubs/bars, etc."
  • "You can eat on campus with the use of a meal card, which you have to apply by visiting the meal card center on campus and depositing money on the card. Though many students order take-out, from many restaurants that offer take-out service. Sometimes when it gets cold, take-out is the preferred choice. It is slightly more expensive than eating on campus."

Travel Tips

  • "It was relatively easy since Peking University had a ticket office where you can easily purchase tickets."
  • "Biggest traveling tip: If you travel. Make sure you are fluent in Chinese, or a friend is. Otherwise, you will be easily scammed as well have a hard time in your travels."
  • "Tips: prepare for October break accordingly (this is when the whole country travels). Keep in mind the government controls the train prices. It's not as easy as in the US to book things online in general. No discount travel."

Culture Shock

  • "You will receive culture shock even if you are well-traveled and have been to the country before. This is because you are actually living there for a semester, not passing through on vacation."