Students studying abroad through Brethren Colleges Abroad (BCA) China attend the Dalian University of Foreign Languages (DUFL) and the Dongbei University of Finance and Economics (DUFE). The DUFL has a total student population of about 20,000 students and focuses almost entirely on the instruction of modern languages, including Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish as well as Arabic, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, and Russian. Besides modern language majors, however, the DUFL also offers coursework for students studying business, computer science, fine and performing arts, journalism, music, philosophy, and political science. The DUFE, the other affiliate school through BCA China, enrolls approximately 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students and focuses primarily on the instruction of classes for business administration, economics, and international business majors. The university also offers a number of Chinese language classes for non-native Chinese speaking students. Many students from other departments can otherwise fulfill their Elizabethtown College Core Program courses in Dalian as well.
Besides modern language classes, all classes are taught in English to both Chinese and international students at both the DUFE and the DUFL. In order to take Chinese language classes, all American students must take a language placement exam within the first week of their arrival in Dalian. BCA students register through the BCA resident director, Danny Hsu, for all English-speaking classes taught at either university.
"Have no fear if you are new to the language because in my experience, students with a year of language experience in the United States were placed with those just starting out. The university is flexible and if you want to change your class to an easier or harder level you can usually move around as necessary." (Joseph Shute '12)
City and Local Attractions
Dalian is a major seaport in northeastern China along the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea, located on the Liaodong Peninsula in the Chinese province of Liaoning, with a population of nearly 3.6 million people. Like many cities along eastern China, Dalian has changed hands between China, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom several times, and it is not difficult to spot lingering traces of these cultures in the city. Among Dalian's most notable attractions for visitors include:
- Binhai Road: a twenty-two mile stretch of road that winds along the coast of the Liaodong Peninsula, often compared to the corniche of the French Riviera. The views of the sea and the beaches along the way make this road a great destination for any visitor.
- Laodong Park: Visitors can take a chairlift to the top of the mountain for the chance to climb the Reach Sightseeing Tower for a panoramic view of the city. During the winter, there are also opportunities for skiing or ice skating in the park itself.
- Long Wangtang: a village located about twenty minutes by car from Dalian that specializes in cherry blossoms in late April. The town is also famous for its unique water dam.
- Russian Street: a testament to Dalian's colonial past, this section of the city contains old Russian architecture that has largely remained untouched since the early twentieth century.
- Xinghai Park: this park is located in Xinghai Square, the largest public square in Asia. The square also includes a beach, an aquarium, several restaurants, and a number of museums.
"Students who have not traveled abroad before will likely experience culture shock at first, but the accommodations at the school and around the campus, as well as assistance from the BCA resident director, make the first weeks relatively stress free and, in my experience, the effects of culture shock were mostly gone by the end of the first week or two. The classroom settings are very laid back and facilitate making friends with other international students, many of whom know the area well and can show you the ropes. Additionally, the BCA resident director will plan many group activities within the first week to help BCA students become friends with one another and experience China together. Since China is very different from the United States, it will likely take time for students to learn a majority of the customs and procedures, but life in the city is fairly relaxed and subjects minimal pressure on a day to day basis. Likewise, students might experience reverse culture shock depending on their level of attachment to China when they return home, and as they readjust to the American lifestyle. Life in America might seem somewhat more constrictive and regimented than life in China." (Joseph Shute '12)
During the fall semester, BCA China offers a weeklong excursion to Beijing, China's capital, where students have the chance to visit sections of the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. During the spring semester, BCA China offers a week-long excursion to Shanghai and Xiamen. Additionally, the program provides optional day and weekend trips during the semester. Locations have varied, but typically include a visit to Dandong, a city located on the border of China and North Korea, to visit a Korean War museum and discuss Chinese and North Korean foreign policy. Another trip offered in the past is a weekend excursion to Bing Yugou Park, located in northeastern China, which features a mountainous glacier landscape and a number of Buddhist temples.
Health and Safety
Check to make sure that your health insurance policy in the United States will cover you for four months in China. If not, you will need to investigate alternative forms of international health insurance. In terms of crime, the biggest threat in Dalian comes from stray dogs that may carry rabies. Most students, however, have found Dalian to be very safe.
"Dalian, and most of China, is free of violent crime, but that said, one should avoid confrontations with locals, especially if they can't understand you. Conflicts can escalate quickly if not properly avoided. If you are injured, the director can direct you to the nearest hospital (on campus) and treatment is readily administered. However, one should avoid serious injury when possible because procedures can become complicated. For example, don't interact with stray animals that could have rabies because vaccinations are not readily accessible. Health clinics may warn you about other diseases present, including Japanese encephalitis and malaria, both of which are transmitted by mosquitoes, but these were not prevalent in Dalian so vaccinate as you see fit." (Joseph Shute '12)
All students live in on-campus dormitories not far from the building where most of the classes for international students (Chinese and BCA classes) are held. Each student receives his or her own single room, fully furnished with a bed, desk, dressers, television, and personal bathroom with a sink, toilet, and shower. Students may purchase any other minor amenities such as extra lights, fans, and trash cans at the local supermarket.
The official language of China is Mandarin Chinese, and the vast majority of Chinese citizens speak Mandarin Chinese as well as another regional language. Due to the highly diverse population of Dalian of Chinese people from all parts of China, Mandarin Chinese tends to be the most spoken language; however, the local dialect known as Shenyang Mandarin is also spoken.
"Students will learn the language relatively quickly in class, but it would be wise to learn basic phrases before entering the country, as well as some common characters since outside of major cities like Beijing, most signage is in Chinese. The director will cover the more important phrases during orientation." (Joseph Shute '12)
"Living in China is still relatively inexpensive depending on your spending habits. Domestic food and products are pretty cheap, but more Western consumer goods, especially imports, and activities are typically more expensive. Spending outside of the monthly stipends ranged from around $500 to $1000+ for the whole semester. One can easily get more money at ATM machines at major banks using their American cards. The machines are straightforward and have English instructions. China is still a cash-based society for the most part so be prepared to use bills instead of cards 95% percent of the time, it's more convenient and safe to do so." (Joseph Shute '12)
"Danny Hsu, the director in Dalian, is bar-none the most qualified person for the position at Dongbei University. He covers everything you need to know during orientation and is available 99% of the time to answer questions and handle other concerns. He will be there to help you with anything you could possibly need and goes above and beyond the call to make students feel at home. Feel free to ask him anything and he will surely deliver." (Joseph Shute '12).