Associated Colleges in China

315-859-4222 (fax)

ACC Intensive Language Program Handbook

General Information

Welcome to the Associated Colleges in China (ACC), a summer, fall, and spring intensive Chinese language program sponsored by Hamilton in consortium with Oberlin College, Lawrence University, Williams College and Smith College and hosted by the Minzu University of China (MUC) in Beijing. We offer a unique program filled with opportunities, and your time with us promises to be richly rewarding. This handbook contains a great deal of information, some of which must be acted on immediately. We ask that you read these pages very carefully and follow all instructions exactly. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

back to top  

Faculty and Staff

Hong Gang Jin, Ph.D., Professor of Chinese, East Asian Languages and Literature Program, Hamilton College. Seventeen years of teaching experience at Hamilton College, ACC, the Chinese Summer School of Middlebury College and at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Yin Zhang, Field Director, M.Sc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition, University of Oxford; B.A. in Teaching Chinese as as Second Language, Beijing Language and Culture University. Experience with CC; also has experience as Visiting Instructor of Chinese at Hamilton College.

Chen Wang,  BA in English,  DalianUniversity of Foreign Languages.  Twelve years of experience with ACC.

Local Chinese Language Instructors. ACC carefully recruits and trains approximately 20 local Chinese instructors with B.A. and M.A. degrees in various fields.

Nitsa Weld, Program Coordinator, Hamilton College. BA in English, Lynchburg College. Fourteen years at Hamilton, seven years at ACC.

Joe Roy, Resident Advisor and DLC Coordinator in Beijing.  Graduated Hamilton College June 2014.

back to top

Host Institution

Minzu University of China (MUC) is one of China’s most important comprehensive universities, and it is one of the 38 key universities receiving direct development support from the Chinese government. The goal for Minzu University of China is to become ‘one of the first-class ethnic universities in the world.’ Minzu University of China has an advantageous geographical position, being located in an urban district of Beijing, and transportation is very convenient. There are many buses and a subway outside the front gate of MUC. MUC is situated in a university district, near the National Library of China to its south, and the Chinese ‘Silicon Valley’-Zhongguancun High-Technology Industry Base to its north. It has a beautiful garden-like campus, something rarely seen in northern China.

Minzu University of China has a comprehensive set of university disciplines, and its ethnic characteristics are highly distinctive. Humanities is its main focus and ethnic studies is its defining specialty, with courses covering liberal arts, science, engineering, medical science, management, education, finance and economics, politics and law, physical education, art and so on. At present, MUC has 23 colleges and 5 departments, 55 bachelor’s degree programs, 64 master’s degree programs, and 25 doctor’s degree programs. Its ethnology, Chinese ethnic minority language and literature, Chinese ethnic minority art, etc. rank among the best in China and are well-known around the world. It is also one of the most well-known institutions in teaching Chinese as a foreign language in China. It is one of the first eight universities in China that enrolled international students and began teaching and researching Chinese as a foreign language. All majors at MUC are open to international students. Today, MUC has a faculty of 2,014 members, among them 1040 are full-time teachers, including 510 professors and associate professors.

At MUC, multiple cultures exist side by side harmoniously. Not only does it have high-quality, top-level faculty with many ethnic backgrounds, but also 60% of its 15,046 full-time students are ethnic minorities. It is the only university in China where all of China’s 56 ethnic groups are represented in its faculty and student body. The multiple cultures of the 56 ethnic groups harmoniously mix together here.

MUC’s College of International Education

College of International Education (CIE) is a special agency in charge of recruitment, Chinese teaching and management of, as well as service to, all international students at MUC. CIE is responsible for Chinese language programs, a bachelor’s degree program on Chinese for international students, a master’s degree program on Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages and a doctor’s degree program on Globalization of Chinese Language (International Chinese Language Education). At present, there are more than 200 international students at CIE learning various programs. In recent years, the college has focused on diverse teaching methods such as ‘Great Wall Chinese’ multi-media teaching method, ‘Intensive Training’ and ‘Experiencing Teaching’. There are 23 teachers engaged in teaching and research, including 10 professors and associate professors. For more than 10 years more than half of the teaching faculty has experience in teaching Chinese as a foreign language.

The Chinese language program is conducted in small classes, each of which holds around 15 students. The college designates two after-class tutors for each class so as to help students reinforce what they have learned in class. Both the Chinese language program and the bachelor’s degree program in Chinese attach importance to international students’ skills in Chinese listening, speaking, reading and writing.


ACC students are subject to the regulations of the Foreign Student Dormitory, which are posted in English and Chinese in a brown folder inside each room. These regulations include, but are not limited to, rules pertaining to visitation hours and overnight guests. Failure to adhere to the "overnight guests rule" will result in fines by the host institution.

back to top

Academic Calendar

Fall Term 2013

Sep. 2          Depart from U.S.
Sep. 4          Registration
Sep. 5          Placement exam
Sep. 6          Orientation & class meeting
Sep. 7          City tour
Sep. 8          Opening ceremony
Sep. 9          Classes begin
Oct. 9-12     Field trip
Oct. 25        Mid-term exam
Nov. 7-9      Fall break
Dec. 5&6     Final exams
Dec. 9          Dormitory closes at noon

Spring Term 2014

Jan 14           Depart from the U.S.
Jan 16            Registration
Jan 17            Registration and campus tour
Jan 18            Placement exam
Jan 19            Orientation meeting and class meeting
Jan 20           City tour and opening ceremony
Jan 21            Classes begin
Jan 29-Feb 2  Chinese Spring Festival Holiday
March 7         Mid-term exam
March 8-15   Field trip
Apr 24& 25   Final Exams
Apr 28            Dorm closes

Summer Term 2014

June 17           Depart from the U.S.
June 19           Registration
June 20          Placement exam
June 21           Orientation meeting & class meeting
June 22           City tour and opening ceremony
June 23           Classes begin
July 17             Mid-term exam
July 18-20      Field trip (Batong Luoyang)
Aug 14&15      Final exams
Aug 18             Dorms close

Students wishing to arrive before 9/3/13 for the fall, 1/15/14 for the spring, or 6/18/14 for the summer, should contact the ACC office at Hamilton College to see if they can be accommodated in the dorm. The cost of any advance accommodations in the dorm will be the student's responsibility. Students enrolled in the program should be aware that housing during the period between terms is their own responsibility. The ACC office will, at the student's cost, help make housing arrangements upon the student's request. Usually, the student can be accommodated in the dorm for a fee and with advance notice.

back to top

Documents for Travel


If you already have a passport, please ensure that it is valid until at least 6 MONTHS AFTER your last day in China. If not, it must be renewed immediately. If you do not have a passport, the Blue Pages of your telephone book will indicate the location of the passport office nearest you. You may also visit www.state.gov for information about obtaining or renewing a passport. Your address in Beijing will be as follows:

Associated Colleges in China
College of International Education
Minzu University of China
27 South Zhongguancun Street
Haidian District, Beijing 100081
Telephone: 86-10-65959258/68934344/68933263

In addition to the passport application form, to apply for a passport you will need the original or a certified copy of the following:

a. Proof of Citizenship (one of the following)

United States birth certificate
Previously issued passport
Proof of naturalization, if you are a naturalized citizen

b. Identification (one of the following)

Driver’s license
Government ID card
Previously issued passport

c. Two photographs measuring 2” by 2”

The passport fee is $45 for a renewal and $100 for an original. New passports are usually valid for 10 years. Again, please visit http://travel.state.gov/passport for more information.

If you are a U.S. citizen, we suggest that you register your passport with the U.S. Embassy immediately upon your arrival in Beijing. This will make it easier to have a new passport issued in the event that yours is lost or stolen.

Important: We must have your passport number no later than April 1 for the summer and/or fall terms, and by October 20 for the spring term. This is absolutely necessary for the processing of your visa forms.
Chinese Visa

You will be obtaining an “F” visa, which is valid for one entry into China within a period of up to six months. ACC cannot assist you in obtaining any type of visa other than the single entry “F” visa. Should you be remaining with ACC for longer than 6 months, the ACC staff in Beijing will assist you in having your visa renewed during your stay. You may also apply for a re-entry visa in Beijing if you need to leave China within your visa’s valid period.

The visa process is as follows:

  1. ACC will file for your preliminary visa papers (JW-202 and the Invitation to Study at CUEB), which are issued in Beijing. These papers, with each individual student’s visa information, will be sent to the ACC office at Hamilton College. YOU CANNOT APPLY FOR YOUR VISA WITHOUT THESE PAPERS.
  2. The ACC office will then forward you these completed papers along with another form to be filled out by the student (Q1) and complete instructions as to how to go about applying for the F visa. These papers are sent via certified mail. You must sign for the packet personally, either at your home upon delivery, or at the post office. If you are using a student post office box, you will receive a slip in the mail notifying you that you must pick up your packet at the window. Please do not delay in picking up the papers, or they will be returned to the ACC office.
  3. Once you have received the papers and filled out the necessary forms according to the instructions, you may proceed in one of two ways: 1) If you live close to a Chinese consulate or the Chinese embassy, you may go directly there and use the walk-in service to obtain your visa. 2) If you are not near a consulate or embassy, you will have to use a visa agent to obtain your visa. Several agencies have online applications; we recommend www.travisa.com. Applications can be printed and included in a packet you will need to mail to the visa agent; they will get your visa for you and then mail it back to you. Specific instructions pertaining to this process will be sent with the visa papers. Information on fees will also be contained in that packet. Chinese consulates in the U.S. no longer permit mail-in applications from individuals. 

You will be responsible for obtaining your visa. ACC cannot assume any responsibility for providing visas to students, other than securing the preliminary paperwork.

Please e-mail ACC once you have received your visa so that we may ensure that all students have the necessary documents in order to travel to Beijing. Our e-mail address is acchina@hamilton.edu.

Monitor Your Visa Status

Most of you hold a single “F” visa with 180 days of permitted stay in the P. R. China. You have to leave the country before your visa expires. Your arriving date + 180 days = the visa expiring date. Monitor your visa status carefully. You will be fined 5000 RMB at customs with an expired visa. A worse scenario is that you might be put on “the black list” and can never set foot in China again!

During the semester at ACC, you must get a return visa before you return to China from places such as HK, Macau, and Taiwan. We recommend that you do this before you leave China.

Notify the ACC office of your travel plans at least 3 weeks before your departing date; Minzu will prepare a JW202 Form for you and get it approved by China’s Education Ministry (it takes up to 14 working days). You will need to pay 200 RMB.

With the approved JW202 Form in hand, fill out a visa application form at the ACC office and have it signed by Minzu University. Go to the PSB with your passport, the approved JW202 form and the signed visa application form. You will need to pay approximately 760 RMB. It takes 5 to 7 working days to get the visa. Leave a copy of your new visa at the ACC office. If you are traveling abroad in the last month of ACC, then you may get an “L” visa directly from the local Chinese Embassy. A single “L” visa permits you to stay in China for 30 days. This “trick” only applies to when there are less than 30 days between your return date to China and your leaving date for good.

Returning students MUST secure visa paperwork in China before coming back home!

New Visa Regulations

According to the Chinese government, no matter what kind of visa a student has, he/she must change it to a residence permit. This means the student must take all of his/her application documents to China (especially the JW202 form); failure to do so will mean paying an additional 200 RMB for a JW202 copy. The fee for a new residence permit is: health check, around 350 RMB, JW202, 200 RMB, permit, 460 RMB. The total is 810 or 1010 RMB. It would be best for students to have their physical in China. Please refer to Visa FAQ’s found on page 41 of this handbook for more information from our office in Beijing.

back to top

Arriving in Beijing

Students are responsible for arranging their own transportation to Beijing, and may phone or write the ACC office for recommendations on specific flights or travel agents. Students must notify the ACC office of their travel plans at least two weeks before departure. Complete itineraries - including airline flight number, departing city, time and date of departure and arrival - must be e-mailed, faxed or mailed to the ACC office.

Students wishing to arrive early should contact the ACC office at Hamilton College to make arrangements for accommodations in the dormitory. The cost of any advanced accommodations in the dorm will be the student’s responsibility (rooms subject to availability). Also, students enrolled in the program should be aware that housing during the period between terms is their own responsibility. Fees generally range from $17-$27 per night.

How to get to Minzu University of China (MUC)

Traveling from the Airport: There are several ways to get to MUC from the airport. We list two major routes here for reference (see map below). 

  1. The easiest way is to take a taxi directly to MUC. It costs about RMB 150. 
  2. You can also take the Airport Shuttle Line 4 to Friendship Hotel (Youyi Binguan). Next, take Subway Line 4 at Renmin Daxue Station for one stop, get off at Weigongcun Station and walk to MUC. Another option is to take Bus 320 (697, Yuntong 105, Yuntong 106,etc.) at Renmin Daxue Station to Weigongcun Station or Minzu Daxue Station and walk to MUC. 

*We suggest students take a taxi from Friendship Hotel to MUC directly in case students have luggage with them. The taxi fare for this part is around RMB 10.  

back to top

ACC Rules and Regulations

Every organization needs some regulations in order to function effectively. The administration of the ACC program has tried to minimize these because we plan to treat you as serious and mature adults who do not need a written rule for every occasion. Nevertheless, for your own protection, and to support the goals of the program, some guidelines are necessary. We include these here so that you fully understand in advance the intensity of our program and what our regulations are.

Language Pledge

Only Chinese will be spoken, especially with other members of the group, roommates, teachers and staff as well as other people you may encounter while you are an ACC student. This is the program’s most important regulation and constitutes the very backbone of its philosophy. The purpose of the Language Pledge is to help you become immersed in the language and to encourage you not only to speak Chinese but to think in Chinese as well. When students speak English, full immersion into the language is not possible and the learning process is hindered.

You should not consider reverting to English or any other language other than Mandarin Chinese at any time during the program unless you really must speak to someone who doesn’t understand Chinese or you are faced with an emergency situation. Failure to adhere to the Language Pledge will result in disciplinary action:

First offense: written warning
Second offense: one full grade reduction for a course taken in that term
Third offense: expulsion from the program

Students who are not able to observe this rule faithfully should not be with our program. The ACC Committee is charged with confirming the expulsion of any student who does not conform to the Language Pledge.

The Language Pledge becomes effective right after the ACC orientation meeting at the start of each term. Students are asked to sign a pledge at that time.

Honor Code

Any form of academic dishonesty—cheating, falsification, misrepresentation, forgery, or plagiarism—is a serious offense in any academic community. In the ACC program, such dishonesty will normally result in removal from the course, expulsion from the program, or both. It is essential, therefore, that every student understands the standards of academic honesty.

Plagiarism is a violation of intellectual honesty. The practice of intellectual honesty is the foundation of an academic community. Effective evaluation of student work and helpful instruction can take place only in an environment where intellectual honesty is respected. Plagiarism represents a failure to acknowledge the source of ideas or language gained from another person when used in any paper, exercise, or project submitted in a course. All students will sign an Honor Code upon arrival.

In all cases, the Field Director reserves the right to suspend a student whose academic work or social conduct warrants such action.

Miscellaneous Information Regarding Class Behavior

Please be culturally sensitive and respectful. For example: do not bring breakfast to class; turn off your mobile phone; do not put your feet on desks or tables; knock on the door before entering a space that is not your own room (especially the office); and use both hands to submit an assignment or give a gift. Please remember that what one culture values, another may not value as much (or at all).

Also, please do not be overly sensitive. In China, it is okay to ask people about their family life and wages, among many other things. For example, you may also be asked questions like: “Are you considered fat in the U.S.?” You will probably hear conversation about topics western culture deems inappropriate, such as Ladùzi   (diarrhea). When conversing with people, remember: “When in Rome…” (rùjìng suísú).

Be cooperative, even when you are not fully prepared, interested in a topic, or in a good mood. Be respectful. Always be active and energetic in class, and participate in discussions.
Be realistic about the goals you set for yourself, especially when planning your independent project/term paper (dúlìbàogào).

Please do not disrupt the harmony of the learning environment. If you have to leave the classroom, ask politely to be excused. Exit and re-enter as quietly as possible.

Absences and Tardiness

You cannot afford to be late or absent. One day of study at ACC is equal to one week elsewhere. Just one day out of class is enough to make you feel totally lost the following day. Adjust your lifestyle accordingly to manage your time in order make the most of your experience here. 

Be punctual when attending class because if you are five minutes late, you will lose 1/3 of your attendance grade. If you are late three times, you will lose your entire attendance grade.

Only the most serious circumstances should prevent you from completing daily class preparations and attending every class. Our instructors have been told that you are an extremely hardworking group, so they will expect you to be serious and conscientious students. We intend to enforce the regulations concerning attendance and class preparation strictly. Please note: any travel that entails missing classes will not be allowed.

If you are sick, please give advance notice of absence from class and make sure that your homework is completed and submitted on time. Make-up class can be arranged with your one-on-one teacher. If you have 4 or more unexcused absences from class sessions, you will lose 1/3 of your performance grade.

There will be no make-up dictation whatsoever. Be sure to make up your homework and weekly test when you recover from your illness. Handing in any assignment late will result in the reduction of points from your grade. Lastly, be sure to read the weekly schedule carefully and set your alarm clock accordingly. 

back to top

Academic Program

Classes normally meet for four hours daily, 5 days a week, including one hour of lecture, one hour of drill, one hour of conversation session (two-on-one), and one hour of individual session (one-on-one). In addition, teacher consultation/tutoring hours are scheduled in the evenings, and there is a test, a language practicum and language table every Friday. Students should be aware that the ACC program is very demanding. In addition to the four hours daily of class, students should expect to spend at least another four to five hours daily in class preparation and self-study.

The course list is not meant to indicate courses that students may select upon their arrival in Beijing. It is shown here so you may have an idea of the topics covered and the texts used in each class. You will take a placement exam at the beginning of the session that will determine your level. After you have been placed, you will be assigned the courses at your level that are available for that session. You are not free to take, for example, a 400-level course, and then elect to take a course at the 200-level. The level in which you are placed predetermines the courses you will be taking.

Courses at ACC are set up in a much different manner from the way you are used to at home. Unlike in the U.S., where a class may be taken every other day for an entire semester, ACC has set up its program so that one lesson is taken all day, every day for as long as it takes to cover all the materials that need to be covered for that lesson. Once one lesson has been completed, you move on to the next lesson (and so on until all the lessons in the course have been covered and the session is over). For example, all students at the intermediate level take Chinese 200 all day, every day until all the topics in that course have been covered. Only then can the students move on to Chinese 230. This system has been developed to help students learn as much as possible in the shortest amount of time that is available. We have found that this is the most effective way to conduct classes at ACC. Should you have questions about how ACC courses are run, please call either the ACC general director or program coordinator, who will be happy to explain.

ACC students enrolled in the fall and spring semesters are required to participate in an independent research project. The ultimate goal of this project is for students to better understand Chinese culture and interact with local Chinese citizens. The project consists of two main components: a written paper and an oral presentation at the end of the semester. Students are advised to consider possible topics before leaving for China.

Because it is difficult to arrange for students to take courses in other programs, and because those courses often do not prove satisfactory, we strongly encourage all our students to limit themselves to our own course offerings. The program, however, remains willing to try to satisfy a particular and urgent need for a course that is not among the ACC offerings. We assume that non Chinese- related courses, if required by your school or your major, can be taken after returning home. If your participation in the program hinges on you taking such a course (e.g., French, mathematics), please call us right away.

Independent Project

ACC is the only study abroad program in Beijing that has an independent research project component, or dúlì bàogào (for fall and spring students only). Through the dúlì bàogào, students engage more fully with local Chinese people. The ultimate goal for the project is for students to develop comprehensive language skills and better understand what local Chinese think about specific facets of Chinese culture, society, or history.

It is ACC’s hope that you approach the dúlì bàogào proactively. Rather than hole up in your room and read extensively on your topic, you should get out of the ACC dorm and head into the field to do your research. To that end, the dúlì bàogào should not be approached as a typical research project like those you may undertake in the United States. Rather, it is a field studies project.

You will certainly have to do some background research on your topic, but the brunt of your work will involve interacting with native speakers for information (interviews, surveys, etc.).

How to best approach the dúlì bàogào: While most college students (perhaps all of them) rely on procrastination to pull them through, especially when it comes to rather large projects, the key here is time management. To that end, the dúlì bàogào assignment has several built-in deadlines throughout the semester for topic selection, interview questions, English-Chinese translations, project outline, first, second & final drafts, and a PowerPoint presentation.

Do not fret – you will not be left alone to “deal with” the dúlì bàogào on your own. Each student will have a faculty advisor. As with everything else at ACC, your teachers are always available to you for help. If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to ask as soon as they come up (the earlier, the better).

Also be advised that the dúlì bàogào includes two main components: a written project and an oral presentation at the end of the semester. The oral presentation consists of a computer slideshow (PowerPoint) supplemented by an oral report. You will then field questions from an audience of several ACC teachers and fellow classmates.

Please start thinking about potential topics even before you arrive in Beijing as this only helps facilitate the dúlì bàogào process. Topics students have researched in the past include but are not limited to: Chinese media restriction; the state of Chinese mental and emotional health; dragon symbolism in Chinese culture; Chinese auto advertisement on TV, and the practice of traditional Chinese medicine.

Instructional Cycle, Format, and Approaches

Learning Cycle

Here at ACC, we follow six guiding principles that have been established in the field of second language acquisition theory. First, we pride ourselves on providing many experiential learning opportunities by designing task-based and language-use activities. Second, we emphasize elaborated input rather than simplified input in all of our classes. Third, we train students for chunk learning and to focus on both language forms and functions. That is, we encourage students to pay attention to both context and sentence patterns. Fourth, ACC employs group tasks to provide students opportunities for cooperative and collaborative learning. Fifth, we seize all opportunities to provide corrective feedback. That is, teachers will always correct students’ mistakes and make suggestions accordingly. Finally, ACC makes individualized instruction an integral part of the curriculum. 

All of these six guiding principles, combined with teacher and student cooperation, translate into language learning success. As illustrated in the figure, the ACC instructional curriculum is a 6-stage cycle.

The 6 stages reflect the cognitive processes through which students make progress when learning a foreign/second language. The cycle begins with a series of activities and tasks before class. These activate students’ background knowledge of the topic at hand and include reading, listening, short writing assignments, and/or discussion related to the theme of the core lesson. These activities/tasks are completed before class and are aimed at preparing students to engage in scaffolding activities for the next stage.

Instructional Format: Organizing the Course and Materials

ACC offers four types of instruction that enhance the learning experience. These types include: cooperative and collaborative learning, chunk learning, experiential learning, active and reflective learning, individualized learning, and task-based learning.

Type 1: DaBanKe - Schema building and thematic scaffolding: 8-10 students. This class focuses on the main idea and thematic framework of the day’s lesson or topic. We employ and practice key sentence patterns and vocabulary while discussing the main idea. Do not take notes during class because the most important part of class is your interaction. Additionally, students must work together so that class becomes a collective rehearsal of important sentence patterns and vocabulary. Hearing and repeating Chinese helps you remember content. Finally, you may consider joking around with your teachers in your response to questions as long as the joke is context-appropriate and non-offensive.

Type 2: XiaoBanKe - Chunk-learning and focus on form: 4-5 students. This class focuses on developing students’ abilities to use proper sentence patterns to communicate effectively. Teachers start by initiating planned question-answer sessions based on the day’s lesson and may later ask questions that help re-contextualize the lesson’s sentence patterns and vocabulary. Indeed, one effective way to learn and remember Chinese is to constantly re-contextualize content. That is, ask yourself the following questions: In what other situations can I use this sentence pattern/vocabulary? How can I use this lesson’s content to describe other things with which I’m familiar?

Additionally, error correction is often direct and immediate so do not feel frustrated. ACC simply wants its students to speak accurately. Always be considerate of your teachers and students: pay attention, be patient, and repeat sentences alongside your fellow classmates.

Type 3: DuiHua/TaoLunKe -  Task-based instruction: 2 students. This session focuses on students’ ability to interact with others, use the language in context, exercise communication strategies, and negotiate meaning with others. To prepare for this conversation-based class, students prepare various tasks and activities that serve as the foundations for role-play, discussion or debate. Again, it is essential that you use the lesson or topic’s sentence patterns and vocabulary, regardless of what is discussed. In fact, the further “removed” your topic is from the day’s lesson, the greater chance that you’ll automatically re-contextualize what you have learned.

Type 4: DanBanKe -  Individualized instruction: 1 student. This class focuses on language use at a personal level and at an individualized pace. Additionally, the individualized session relies more on personal experience. Teachers will structure personalized instruction according to individual students’ needs and interests. Therefore, the techniques used for this class often involve personalized topics as well as a great deal of corrective feedback on forms and functions. Still, students should actively initiate the conversation with the teacher and are mostly free to determine the topics discussed. Focus on sentence patterns and relevant vocabulary is equally important. Individual sessions provide the very best opportunity for error correction and clarification.

Typical Class Schedule

• Lectures   Dabanke   8:00 am (about 8-10 students)
• Drills   Xiaobanke   9:00 (about 4-5 students)
• Dialogue   Duihua/Taolunke   10:10 (2 students)
• One-on-one   Danbanke   11:10 or 12:10 (one student and one teacher)

Teachers rotate daily and classmates rotate weekly. This way, students can experience different speaking styles throughout the semester. Additionally, ACC teachers of every class year hold office hours daily (from 7:30 pm- 9:30 pm) except for Fridays and Saturdays.

Typical Weekly Schedule

Each week, assignments consist of one weekly essay and daily preparatory and review assignments. On Thursdays, students make oral presentations based on their weekly essays. These weekly oral presentations not only strengthen your oral skills, but strengthen your presentation skills as well (especially helpful for independent research projects). On Fridays, ACC students take weekly exams, after which they must attend a language practicum (mandatory). Friday activities end with a Chinese Table during which small groups of students go out for lunch with one or two teachers.

For a chart of a typical weekly schedule, please see below:

Weekly Exam
Koutou Baogao
Oral Presentations 
Yuyan Wenhua Shijian
Language Practicum
Individual Session
Individual Session
Individual Session
Review-Independent project
Individual Session
Individual Session 
Individual Session 
Review-Independent project 
Zhongwen Zhuozi
Chinese Table
Individual Session
Individual Session 
Individual Session 
Review-Independent project 
Homework Homework Homework Review for Weekly Exam


When to Ask Questions in Class

Because ACC is an intensive program, we like to be as efficient as possible. Keep in mind that different classes are designed for different functions and purposes. Not all classes are designed for questions, but that does not mean ACC does not welcome them.

Listed below are the classes in which you should and should not ask questions:

  • Daban:  YES
  • Xiaoban:  NO; write down your questions.
  • Duihua:  NO; write down your questions.
  • Danban:  YES

Office Hours

Office hours are held every day from 7:30 to 9:30 P.M excluding Friday and Saturday. One to two level-specific teachers will be available during this time to answer your questions. Ask specific and short questions about grammar and usage as well as about your homework. Do not ask to have your homework checked over, a composition proofread or to have a sentence written for you. You may also ask to practice speaking if there are no other students waiting in line. Additionally, please respect your teachers and do not wait until the last minute to go to office hours.

Language and Culture Practicum

After the weekly exam on Friday, ACC students participate in the Language and Culture Practicum (Yuyan Wenhua Shijian), something that is unique to the ACC program. Teams of students are presented with a topic of inquiry and asked to venture into the community in search of information pertinent to the week’s lessons. These activities provide students with the opportunity to use the phrases and grammar learned that week while simultaneously experiencing Beijing and Chinese society. The weekly huódòng (activity) is a great way to engage in meaningful interaction and conversation with your peers, teachers and local residents of Beijing.

Class Preparation and Participation

One day of study at ACC is equal to approximately one week of study at your home institution. As such, preparation for the next day’s classes should be your top priority. Arriving to class late not only hinders your learning, but also is rather disrespectful toward your teachers and peers.

Though the ACC program is academically rigorous, we do not want you to spend all of your time studying and preparing for class. You are abroad, after all, and should take advantage of the many things China has to offer. Therefore, as with most other things at ACC, you must manage your time well. You can expect to spend 4-6 hours on preparation and homework in addition to the time you spend in class.

We will be up front and tell you that the first week at ACC may be tough because you have not yet become accustomed to the program. Afterwards, though, studying should come more easily as you develop the routine that works best for you. Listed below are 6 tips that will help you focus on what to prepare as well as how to study more effectively and efficiently:

  1. Go over the lesson and familiarize yourself with the “story” before moving on to the vocabulary list.
  2. Learn your vocabulary in context.
  3. Listen to the digitized text at least two to three times before class. Try listening to the MP3s a few times right before you go to sleep.
  4. Connect new words with their meanings and usage in the text.
  5. Highlight the key sentence patterns in the text.
  6. Practice characters in phrases and sentences. Since there are at least 60 new words daily, we do not recommend using flashcards because it takes too long to write the flashcards.

To reiterate, we strongly recommend that you start by reading the text first and looking up and highlighting the text’s Shengci (new vocabulary) as you go along. After reading the text, doing the homework is often helpful as it allows you to identify and practice the text’s important terms. It is best to practice the characters last. Language-learning success is the result of good preparation, a positive attitude, a sense of humor, and most importantly: active participation both in and out of class.

Building Comprehensive Language Skills

Listening comprehension is NOT enough to get by – you must know how to express yourself and should therefore seek and exploit as many opportunities as possible to practice these skills. Talk with the teachers and staff in the ACC building as well as other native speakers of Mandarin.

Experimentation is the key. You are a student of this language so don’t be afraid to use phrases or vocabulary with which you are unfamiliar. Your conversation partner will understand if you have made an error and will kindly correct you. In fact, you should always be prepared to have your speech corrected. This is not meant to intimidate or discourage you but rather to help improve your Chinese.

If you are unsure of how to say something, use simpler Chinese to describe what you want to say so that your teacher or friend can help you say it. Do not use avoidance strategies like employing the ever-awkward “Chinglish.” Try to make conversation, even when it isn’t “necessary” or “true.” Don’t say things like “Wo bu zhidao” or “Wo bu liaojie.”

When you are unsure about what other people are saying – Beijingers do speak with speed and with their own accent – use the context of the situation, original topic of conversation, etc. to make an educated guess as to what was said. Also, take care to observe where, when, to whom and how an expression is used and initiate questions. For example: “Qing zai shuo” or “Qing jiao yi ge wenti.”

Additionally, when expressing yourself aloud, remember: “Measure twice, cut once.” Take time and effort to express your thoughts in Chinese by using the right tones and pronunciation. Answer in complete sentences that include as many target vocabulary and sentence patterns as possible. This will not only increase your likelihood for success, but will also earn you an enthusiastic and genuine “Hen Hao” from the "Laoshi"!

Always remember that your level of Chinese will differ from that of everyone else at ACC. Thus, you should be patient and supportive of each other in class. Be accommodating of each other’s learning styles as well as ways of speaking and thinking. Since ACC students are often involved in team work or group projects, being a good conversation partner who respects others’ opinions is crucial to preserving a healthy and harmonious learning and living environment. If you should disagree with your conversation partner or teacher, try to redirect the conversation and focus on language use rather than opinions.

Final point: Carry a small notepad at all times. Use it to record any questions you have and any new words or phrases you pick up throughout the day (especially helpful in remembering slang).

Learning Strategies

Language strategies are the steps or actions you consciously take to improve your ability to learn a second language. Thinking in terms of strategies for dealing with different elements of language (listening, speaking, reading and writing) helps to make language learning a more manageable process.

First, you must use Good Language Learners’ Strategies (Rubin and Thompson, 1982). This means you should be proactive – take charge of your own learning. Additionally, you should develop a “feel” for the language by experimenting with its grammar and words. To accomplish this, create your own opportunities for practicing the language both within and outside of the classroom. Speak as much as possible and whenever you can. Moreover, you should learn to live with uncertainty by not getting flustered. Continue to talk or listen even if you do not understand everything at hand. Learn to make intelligent guesses and pay attention to contextual clues. To better recall what you have learned, employ mnemonics and other memory strategies. Lastly, make errors work for you rather than against you. Learn from them and welcome others’ corrections.

Second, you must stay positive. Anticipate language shock and fatigue, which may manifest itself in a number of different ways, such as: getting angry, not caring, giving up, and avoiding things. ACC suggests the following activities should you feel yourself suffering from language shock and/or fatigue: work out, take a break, talk to your parents and friends via e-mail, read English books, listen to your favorite music, take a walk or do some shopping, keep a journal, or discuss your situation with the Field Director. The orientation materials provide more detailed information about how best to deal with stress.

Good Listening Comprehension Strategies and Pre-Departure Listening Activities:
  • Strategies:
    • Comprehend the message without understanding every word
      • Listen for key words
      • Play the game of probabilities, inference, and educated guessing
      • Try to predict what the speaker will say
  • Activities:
    • Listen to recordings from China over the internet
    • Check out movies in Chinese
    • Go to a Chinese restaurant and chat with the waiter/waitress
    • Find TV programs, CDs, and songs in Chinese and try to understand what is said
Good Speaking Strategies and Pre-Departure Listening Activities:
  • Strategies:
    • Keep the conversation going
    • Overcome the fear to speak
    • Borrow words
    • Elaborate with the words you know
    • Use descriptions
    • Act out or draw the word
    • Ask for help
    • Be persistent about making new friends
  • Activities:
    • Set a time to speak with your classmates
    • Spend a day with a native speaker, if possible
    • Go to a Chinese restaurant and chat with the waiter/waitress
    • Offer language exchange with someone from China

Reading and writing: Use your textbooks and the Internet for readings and write in Chinese what you do and how you feel in the pre-departure period.

back to top 

Course List for 2013-14

The course numbers in this list are consistent with those of Hamilton College. Please be sure to check with your department chair and with your registrar’s office to make sure that these course numbers will be accepted for credit by your home institution. Courses will alternate depending on the year.

Chinese 200 and 220
Intermediate Chinese I and II

Students learn basic grammar and practice communicative skills by studying a variety of topics involving the lives and culture of Chinese people.

Textbooks: Crossing Paths: Living and Learning in China, An Intermediate Chinese Course (Hong Gang Jin, De Bao Xu, Derling Chao, Yeafen Chen, and Min Chen; photography by Laurie A. Wittlinger, Cheng &Tsui Company, Boston, 2003, with CD); A New China: Intermediate Reader of Modern Chinese (Chih-p’ing Chou, Joanne Chiang and Jianna Eagar, Princeton University).

Chinese 290
Conversation and Composition

Focus on oral and written communication, formal presentation, and argumentation in Chinese through readings, class discussion, and oral and written reports. Four hours of class with additional tutorial and lab work.

Textbooks: Shifting Tides: Culture in Contemporary China, An Intermediate Chinese Course (Hong Gang Jin and De Bao Xu with Songren Cui, Yea-Fen Chen, Yin Zhang; photography by Laurie A Wittlinger, Cheng & Tsui Company, Boston, 2003, with CD); Selected teaching materials compiled by ACC instructors from magazines, newspapers and journals focusing on contemporary topics; Making Connections: Enhance Your Listening Comprehension in Chinese (Madeline K. Spring, Cheng & Tsui Company, Boston, 2002 with CD).

Chinese 295
Readings and Discussion

Focus on study and analysis of cultural readings in Chinese as a basis for advanced grammar in context and vocabulary building. Four hours of class with additional tutorial and lab work.

Chinese 300
Advanced Chinese I: Contemporary China

Students study Chinese language and culture from television reports and interviews and discuss current social and cultural issues in China. For students enrolled in courses 300 and above, there is special emphasis on helping students produce paragraph-level language that deals with various kinds of content and helps students express abstract ideas and develop strategies for independent learning.

Textbook: Selected teaching material compiled by ACC instructors from magazines, Internet, newspapers, and journals focusing on contemporary topics; Participation (Yan Jiao Wang, Peking University Press, 1998).

Chinese 310
Advanced Chinese II: Contemporary China

Continuation of Advanced Chinese I through readings and discussions of selected texts.

Textbook: All Things Considered: Advanced Reader of Modern Chinese (Edited by Chih-p’ing Chou, Yan Xia and Meow Hui Goh, Princeton University).

Chinese 320
Chinese Mass Media

Students study journalistic structures and styles from Chinese newspaper articles and television reports.

Textbook: Chinese Break-through: Learning Chinese Through TV and Newspapers (Hong Gang Jin, De Bao Xu, and John Berninghausen; Cheng & Tsui Company, Boston, 1995, with CD, video and audiotape).

Chinese 330
Topics on Modern Chinese Society

Students study Chinese essays, journal articles and films produced in the PRC. Through readings and discussions, students are encouraged to enhance their communicative skills by exploring, questioning and developing an awareness of contemporary China.

Textbooks: China Scene: An Advanced Multimedia Course (Hong Gang Jin, De Bao Xu and James Hargett, Cheng & Tsui Company, Boston, 2000, with CD, video and audiotape.

Chinese 340
Advanced Readings and Discussion

Students study various topics dealing with China through readings and discussion.

Textbooks: Beyond the Basics: Communicative Chinese for Intermediate and Advanced Learners (Jianhua Bai, Juyu Sung and Janet Zhiqun Xing: Cheng & Tsui Company, Boston, 1996); Learning Chinese through film script reading and discussion: To Live; Eat, Drink, Men, Women; In the Days of Being Wild; Shower, etc. (ACC).

Chinese 350
Advanced Readings and Discussion I

Students study various topics dealing with China through readings and discussion.

Textbook: Qianlong: A Practical Chinese Advanced Course (Zhuo Chen, Beijing Language and Culture University Press); selected teaching materials compiled by ACC instructors from magazines, the Internet, newspapers and journals focusing on contemporary topics.

Chinese 400
Changing Face of China

Through selected articles from Chinese journals and magazines, students examine aspects of the changing face of China.

Textbook: Changing Face of China (De Bao Xu and Hong Gang Jin. forthcoming); China’s Peril and Promie: An Advanced Reader (Chih-p’ing Chou, Xuedong Wang and Joanne Chiang; Princeton University Press, 1996).

Chinese 420
Modern Chinese Literature and Culture I

Students study movies, television plays and short readings in modern Chinese literature. Student discussion focuses on the cultural and literary content of the readings.

Textbooks: Literature and Society: Advanced Reader of Modern Chinese (Chih-p’ing Chou, Ying Wang and Xuedong Wang; Princeton University Press, 1996); Selected Essays of Lu Xun (Der-lin Chao, Joan Chiang and Kai Li); Hibiscus Town (Sheng Li Feng and Matt Roberts); Performing “Comic Dialogues” (Cornelius C. Kubler; Yale Far Eastern Publications, 1996).

Chinese 440
Introduction to Classical Chinese

Students are introduced to the basic structure and usage of classical Chinese by reading short selections in classical Chinese literature.

Textbook: Classical Chinese: A Basic Reader (Hai-Tao Tang, Nai-Ying Tang and James Geiss; Chinese Linguistics Project, Princeton University).

Chinese 450
Advanced Readings and Discussions II

Students read modern newspaper and magazine articles and discuss current affairs.

Textbook: Advance Chinese Course (Dianfang Yao, Peking University Press); selected teaching materials compiled by ACC instructors from magazines, the Internet, newspapers and journals focusing on contemporary topics.

Chinese 480
Current Issues: Advanced Readings and Discussion

Students study current issues in China through readings and discussion based on newspapers, magazines and television reports.

Textbook: Current Issues in China: A Study Guide for Current Television Reports (Hong Gang Jin, De Bao Xu, and Qunhu Li); Selected Readings from current Chinese newspapers and journal articles (ACC).

Chinese 485
Modern Chinese Literature and Culture II

Continuation of Chinese 420. Further study of Chinese literature and culture through modern short stories, novels, films, and plays.

Textbooks: Selected Readings from Modern Chinese Short Stories (Nai-ying Yuan and Hai-tao Tang, Chinese Linguistics Project, Princeton University); Selected Readings from Contemporary Chinese Literature (ACC); Say it Nicely: A Study Guide (ACC); Vocabulary and Notes to Be Jin’s Jia (Cornelius C. Kubler, Cornell East Asia Series); Thought and Society (The Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies in Taipei); Shi Changzhang: Materials for Advanced Chinese Conversation (Cornelius C. Kubler).

Chinese 490
Advanced Readings in Classical Chinese Literature, History, and Philosophy

Students continue their study of ancient China through selected readings in classical Chinese literature, history and philosophy.

Textbooks: Selected Literary Works from the Tang and Song Dynasties (Nai-ying Yuan and Hai-tao Tang; Chinese Linguistics Project, Princeton University); Selections from Classical Philosophical Texts (Nai-ying Yuan, Hai-tao Tang, and James Geiss; Chinese Linguistics Project, Princeton University).

Chinese 495
Special Topics in Advanced Chinese

Under the guidance of individual tutors, students study various topics independently, according to individual needs and interests. Students interested in taking this course should see the Field Director as early as possible to discuss possible topics and make necessary arrangements.

*Please note: Some textbooks are used more than once as different parts of the book are covered in different courses.

back to top 

Blackboard Information

Hamilton College is hosting the ACC courses on the Blackboard web-based course management system. If you are not Hamilton student, a special account has been created for you so that you can log onto the system. In addition, there are a couple of things you need to do to insure that the system works properly.

Initial Sign In

To access the Hamilton Blackboard system, point your web browser to this URL: http://Blackboard.hamilton.edu/ . Then follow the steps below:

  • Click on the "User Login" button in the middle on the left side of the page.
  • On the page that comes up, type in your username and password, as follows:
    • Username: Firstname_Lastname
      • Where "firstname" is your first name and "lastname" is your last name
    • Password: Firstname_Lastname
      • Same as your username for your first login

Be careful about formatting for your username and password (case sensitive)! If your name were John Smith, you would type:

User name: John_Smith
Password: John_Smith

Change Your Personal Information

*** Important: You must do this step for the system to work. ***

The first page that comes up is a "Welcome" page. On the upper left side of the page is a "Tools" box. In the "Tools" box is the link "Personal Information."

  • Click on the "Personal Information" link.
  • Click on the "Edit Personal Information" link.
  • Fill in your e-mail address.
  • Click the "Submit" button on the lower right.
  • Click the "OK" button on the lower right.
  • Click on the "Change Password" link on the Personal Information main page.
  • Type a brand new password into the "Password" and "Verify Password" boxes.
  • Click the "Submit" button on the lower right.
  • Click the "OK" button on the lower right.
  • Click the last "OK" button on the lower right of the "Personal Information" main page.
    • In the rare case when clicking this button does nothing, simply click on the "My Blackboard" tab.

Back on the "My Blackboard" page, you should see a "My Courses" box. You'll be enrolled in at least one course. All ACC students are enrolled in the general ACC course. As enrollment information for other courses is received at Hamilton, you will find new course links in your list.

Placement Exam

To make your transition to China and ACC as efficient as possible, we are hosting part of the ACC placement examination online. You will need to complete this online exam by mid-August for the fall term. The online examination is comprised of two sections:

-Listening Comprehension (20 questions, 25 minutes)
-Reading Comprehension (50 questions, 90 minutes)

Please note that the online placement exam is available in both simplified and traditional characters. It is up to you which version to take. Please select either simplified or traditional (you do not need to complete both versions).

In order to help ACC better understand your language learning background, we also ask you to complete an important survey. The data you provide will be used to improve your language learning experience at ACC. You may complete the survey at any time before June 4. For your convenience, it is not necessary to complete the survey at the same time or day that you complete the online placement exam.

Important: We urge you in the strongest way possible to complete the online exam BEFORE you arrive to China. Even if you plan to arrive to China early, DO NOT wait until that time to take this online exam. The Internet connection in China is very often not stable enough for you to complete the online exam without difficulty. To avoid these predictable technical complications, please take the test before you arrive in China.

The oral interview and writing section to the placement exam will be held at ACC when you arrive on campus.

Further directions will be sent to all students via email in the next few weeks.

If you have any questions or problems completing the exam or survey, please contact the ACC program coordinator, Nitsa Weld (acchina@hamilton.edu).

You will be notified by our office in Beijing of your placement and they will advise you to buy books on-line (providing ISBN numbers) to bring with you to China. If books are bought in China, shipping costs must be added to them.

back to top 


Students should check to see if with their Registrar’s office to make sure that Hamilton units are transferable into your credit system.

Usually, one Hamilton unit is equivalent to four semester hours. However, it is very important that you verify this with your registrar and Chinese department chair well before your departure. This is the responsibility of the student. Because every school places a different value on courses and units earned, we are unable to give a direct translation of what you will earn while at ACC.

For the summer session, all ACC students will receive two Hamilton units. For the fall and spring sessions, ACC students will receive up to four Hamilton units per session. Summer & fall session students will receive up to six Hamilton units, while fall & spring session students will receive up to eight Hamilton units.

Credit/No Credit Option

Following Hamilton College policy, ACC students are permitted to take one course per semester on a credit/no-credit basis. Students who choose to take advantage of the credit/no-credit option must notify the Field Director of their decision within the first four days of the semester. To qualify for a credit, a student must earn a grade of C- or better. If the student receives a grade lower than C-, the transcript will show the designation NC (no credit).

Withdrawal from a Course

ACC students may also opt to withdraw from a course. Should a student wish to withdraw from a course, he or she must discuss the option with the Field Director prior to the following deadlines:

  • Summer: Thursday of the fourth week of the semester
  • Fall: Thursday of the fifth week of the semester
  • Spring: Thursday of the sixth week of the semester

Important: A student who wishes to withdraw from a course should also check with his or her home institution to ensure that the drop/withdrawal timeline requirements of that institution are met. It is recommended that the student check with an advisor or study abroad director before considering withdrawing from a course. In the case of a serious emergency, a student will be given an incomplete.

back to top

Special Features

Off-Campus Housing

Due to the fact we have moved to a new university, we are still in the process of looking for new apartments, and will notify students of availability once they arrive.  In order to be eligible for this, a student must have prior experience living in China or have spent one semester at ACC.  There are limited spaces available and spots are chosen by a lottery system.  Students must keep in mind that living conditions in China can vary a great deal from those in other countries.

Student Council

This semester at ACC we will have a Student Council. The Student Council is a group of five ACC students who serve as not only community organizers but also as a liaison between other students and ACC faculty and staff. Student Council members are responsible for addressing student concerns and arranging activities for students. In the past, Student Council has organized Halloween pumpkin carving and costume contests as well as faculty-student sporting events. Every two weeks, these students are required to meet with Ma Laoshi, Sun Laoshi, and one head teacher. Meeting time and place will be announced.

Fellow ACC students elect Student Council members. Sign-up sheets for elections will be posted on the ACC bulletin board and elections will take place during the first week of class.

Language Partner

Starting the second Friday of classes, students have the opportunity to make friends with a Chinese college student in ACC’s Language Partner Program. The program meets once a week and is such that you and a local Chinese college student have one hour to chat or have coffee together. You can sign up for the program if you can commit yourself to this activity for at least half a semester.

Host Family

You and another student will be assigned to a host family with whom you may be spending some weekend time. Please keep in mind that you will be entering into and participating in another culture. You will find that the Chinese have different values and ways of life from people from other cultures. For example, the Chinese are big on saving water and electricity, and their meals may be drastically different from what you are used to. 

You must be prepared to be accommodating, courteous and patient. Because of language and cultural barriers, you may not "click" right away with your family. While it is easier for ACC teachers to accommodate foreign students, it may not be as easy for your host family to adjust to you. It may take some time on both sides to get used to each other. However, if you are open-minded and willing to delve into the host family's ways and customs, it will surely be a rewarding experience. Most host families are willing to answer questions about themselves and their lives as well. This provides a unique opportunity to understand China from a personal perspective because oftentimes having a host family is the only way students can learn more about the Chinese family structure and family interaction. Take advantage of this experiential learning opportunity. Additionally, Chinese people generally like to wake early and may call you early in the morning. If you’re not quite a “morning person,” all you have to do is politely tell your host family.

The first time you visit your family, you should present them with a small gift (items that have been popular include music, T-shirts, pens with college names, and other typically American products). Be sure to use both hands when giving and accepting gifts with your host family. Also, do not be alarmed if your host family does not immediately open your gift. It is customary in China to open gifts later. It would also be a good idea to bring with you half a dozen or so small gifts for favorite teachers and friends you may make later during your stay in China.

Host families also enjoy seeing photos of you, your own family, your home or college in the U.S. and so forth. Generally, your life at home is quite different from theirs, and getting an idea of where you are coming from is often helpful in bridging cultural gaps and can be very entertaining for host family members.

For all other times you visit your host family, you should bring small gifts such as fruit or pastries. At first, they will decline your offer, but only out of Chinese courtesy. Offer the gift again and they will gladly accept it, though they may not open it in your presence. When at their home, take off your shoes and change into slippers. At the dinner table, there are generally no serving spoons – in fact, your host family may put food in your bowl using their own chopsticks. Offer to wash the dishes after dinner (Wo lai xi wan ba!) Always be helpful, respectful, and sensitive to cultural differences, standard of living, privacy, and Chinese delicacies. If you feel you’ve visited long enough, it is absolutely okay to leave even if your host family asks you to stay longer.

Record each meeting with your host family by marking the chart posted on the ACC bulletin board. This is not for checking how many times you visit your family, but just for keeping a record in the ACC office.

Extracurricular Activities

ACC provides its students with many exciting extracurricular activities and learning opportunities in addition to its academic components. At the beginning of each term, on the second floor of the dormitory facing the stairwell there will be a sign-up sheet posted on the bulletin board for each activity and/or class. If you are interested in one of these classes, please sign up! Please note that enrollment is limited and that you may sign up for no more than 3 of these activities.

Extracurricular activities are offered depending on the availability of instructors and number of students signed up for the course. Listed below are a few extracurricular activities offered in the past:

  • Pronunciation tutorial – 15 minutes/person (You may ask for a 30-minute session)
  • Taichi boxing
  • Taichi sword
  • Chinese chess
  • Chinese “go”
  • Chinese folk songs
  • Cooking
  • Calligraphy
  • Chinese painting

The ACC office also plans weekend activities that allow students to explore and become acquainted with and further understand Chinese culture and Beijing. It is okay if you choose not to participate in these activities (attendance is not obligatory). Last-minute dropping out, however, is highly discouraged. If, for whatever reason, you change your mind about attending an activity, please notify the office ahead of time.

Please also be advised that language and culture practicum activities may sometimes be scheduled on the weekend and that all students are expected to participate in these educational activities.

back to top 


Tuition & Fees (not including airfare and books), and Payment Schedule

Summer: $6,100
Fall or Spring term: $12,500
Summer/Fall terms combined: $18,100
Fall/Spring: $24,600

Expenses Not Included in Tuition

Students are not required to eat together as a group except for Friday noon, which is our "language table day." Students have the choice of eating either in the foreign students' cafeteria, Chinese students' dorm or going out to eat at various restaurants. The amount of money spent on food varies greatly depending on the kind of restaurant you choose. As of this writing, we have found that an average of $10-$15 is the typical expense for three simple meals a day, assuming that you stay away from four star hotels and Western restaurants. Students should expect to spend the following per semester on food: Summer, $600; Fall, $950; Spring $950. Students remaining in China or traveling between semesters should also take into account the amount needed to cover meals for those two weeks.

Students who participated in last year's program have reported that for the summer session, $600-$900 is a sufficient amount of money for personal expenses. For the fall and spring sessions, most students agreed that $2,000-$2,500 was a good amount to have on hand per semester. This does not include money for meals. Students who plan on doing extensive traveling or who plan on buying many gifts may wish to have more money on hand.

Travel to and from Beijing is not included. Students should plan on spending between $1,400 and $1,650 for a round trip flight.

Books for one ACC term will cost about $150-$200, depending on levels and the specific semester.

As outlined in the acceptance letter, the non-refundable deposit is due within two weeks of acceptance. Tuition should be paid in full one month prior to departure. We cannot allow anyone to join the program whose payments have not been made in full. To be properly credited, all payments must be addressed to:

Associated Colleges in China
Hamilton College
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, New York 13323

Tuition Refund Policy

The ACC policy on the refund of payments to students who withdraw voluntarily, due to illness, or who are dismissed during any semester, is stated below. Tuition and fees are refunded as follows:

  1. If, during the first two weeks of class of a given term, a student is dismissed for violations of ACC policy or is forced to withdraw for reasons of illness, 50% of the tuition for all terms for which the student has enrolled will be refunded. No other refunds are possible.
  2. If a student has signed up for two consecutive terms and only completes one, no deposit will be refunded for the term not attended.
  3. After the first two weeks of class, no refund will be given for the tuition of any terms for which the student has enrolled.
  4. The cost of ACC field trips is included in the tuition total. Any student electing not to participate in a field trip will not be issued a refund.
  5. All other refunds will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

back to top 

Health Care

Medical Insurance

All participants of the program must submit proof of proper medical insurance coverage for their stay in Beijing. If you are currently insured and have ascertained that your coverage extends to Asia, this should be indicated on the health insurance form that is sent in the acceptance packet.

If you need to purchase insurance or need additional coverage, we recommend HTH Worldwide Insurance Services. For more information, you may refer to the HTH brochure that was included in your acceptance packet. Alternatively, you can find HTH on the web at www.hthstudents.com. Be sure to mention that you are a participant of the Associated Colleges in China program at Hamilton College.


In the packet you have received, there is a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that addresses the issue of inoculations as well as a variety of health matters. You should read this report carefully. At this time, no immunizations are required for travel to the People’s Republic of China from the United States. If you are traveling to China from an infected area (many Southeast Asian and African locations are considered infected areas), immunizations may be required.

Although inoculations are not mandatory for travel from the United States, ACC strongly recommends the following vaccinations:

  • Hepatitis A, and booster upon return
  • Hepatitis B, if students does not already have it
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Tetanus, if recent shot has not been given
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Polio booster
  • Rabies vaccine
  • Anti-malarials can be purchased and taken in China once students are made aware of field trip destinations

Please be sure to schedule the vaccinations as early as possible since many of them are administered in a series with three to six months between shots. Also, some immunizations may have slight side effects.

You should also ask your doctor for advice regarding immunizations, including tetanus and flu shots. You may also call the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta (404-639-3311), log on to their web site at http://www.cdc.gov for the most current information, or call the U.S. Department of Public Health Disease Control in Maryland (301-443-2610).

To minimize your chances of suffering from diarrhea (La Duzi), you must take a few precautions. That is, stay away from raw vegetables, choose fruits that can be peeled, eat cooked meat, and never drink tap water (it is absolutely okay to brush your teeth with tap water as long as you do not swallow it). Instead, use bottled or boiled water. As for eating the skin off fruit, it is best to wait at least one week. Allow your stomach to adjust to Beijing’s food.

You should bring a copy of your immunization record with you as well as an adequate supply of any prescription or non-prescription medications (Pepto-Bismol, cough syrup, various pain relievers, etc.) that you might require. Any pre-existing medical condition, especially upper respiratory and gastro-intestinal problems, may be exacerbated by life in China. If you become ill, you should seek medical attention immediately. It is a good idea to find out if you are allergic to penicillin, as it is often prescribed.

Local Clinics and Hospitals for Emergencies

Medical services on par with international standards – at costs comparable to the U.S. – are now widely available in Beijing. Some of these clinics and hospitals will bill certain foreign medical insurance companies directly. However, it is more common that a student pay for medical procedures up front and submit claims to his or her insurance company at a later date. Students should be prepared to pay by cash or use a credit card for medical services at the time of service. The following clinics and hospitals are recommended:

Vista Clinic (Wei2shi4da2 Zhen3suo3)
B29 Beijing Kerry Center
No. 1 Guanghua Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: 8529-6618; Fax: 8529-6615
(a comprehensive medical facility, including dental and ophthalmology departments, 20 min. from CUEB on foot, or 5 min. by taxi; 24-hour urgent care)

International Medical (Guo2ji4 Yi1liao2 Zhong1xin1)
Beijing Lufthansa Centre No. 50
(Office Building, Main Floor)
50 Liangmaqiao Rd.
Tel: 6465-1561/2/3; Fax: 6465-1984

Asia Emergency Assistance Center
2-1-1 Tayuan Diplomatic Office Building
14 Liangmahe Nanlu
Administration: 462-9199
24 hours: 462-9100
Clinic: 6462-9112; Fax: 6462-9111
Offers a broad range of medical services.
A number of English-speaking doctors and nurses.

Beijing United Family Hospital
#2 Jiangtai Lu
Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: 6433-3960
Beijing United Family Hospital
Dept. of Psychiatry – cost is 1,096RMB for first 60 minutes of counseling.

Harassment Hotline (in US)
Tel: (949) 276-8822

Hospitals closer to Minzu:


Within campus: Campus Clininc
Outside campus:

Beijing University Dental Hospital
(Opposite campus’s small East Gate)
No. 22 Zhongguancun South Street
Haidian District, Beijing
Tel: 6217-9977

Haidian Hospital
No. 29 Zhongguancun Street
Haidian District, Beijing
Tel: 6255-1396‎

Beijing University’s People Hospital
No. 11 Xizhimen South Street
Xicheng District, Beijing
Tel: 883-26666

Important things to keep in mind, regardless of which hospital you go to: Generally speaking, ACC students cannot use direct billing in Beijing because they are considered to be in China for a "short" period of time. Please use a credit card to pay the bill (cash is fine, too). Always register with your English name in the hospital for the sake of reimbursement. Ask for a written diagnosis or certificate and keep the receipts in a safe place. In order to be reimbursed by an insurance company, you must either enlist help from your parents or wait until you are back home. Therefore, you absolutely MUST know your insurance company's reimbursement policy well. Remember to ask a parent or guardian to notify the insurance company of this hospital visit and send all appropriate documents. The ACC office will help make copies of these documents in case they are lost.

** In case of an emergency, you or the authorities should call the ACC office at Minzu (6595-9258) or the Field Director (6597-6260, 13910020019) after hours. Family members who have concerns or wish to get more information should call the ACC office or the Field Director. **


Mental Illness

Students with a history of mental illness of any kind should make sure that they are emotionally prepared and sufficiently stable to join the program. Such problems are inevitably aggravated by the new demands and personal responsibilities of a foreign setting. If you, your parents, or your physician has not been entirely candid with us, we ask you to call us immediately. The Field Director, with the approval of the ACC Board, reserves the right to withdraw a student with mental problems from the program.

back to top 

Living in Beijing


At the beginning of each term, there will be an orientation period for new students. These orientation periods include an informational meeting and city tour. In addition, short excursions are made to neighborhood restaurants, the post office, bank, medical facilities and shopping centers. The three- to four-hour informational meeting covers studying, eating, living, health care, some safety tips, transportation and travel. Of course, there will also be opportunities for students to ask questions and bring up individual concerns (in English, before the Language Pledge is signed).

Notify the Field Director Whenever You Leave Beijing

So that we may provide you with assistance in an emergency, we ask that you notify the Field Director whenever you leave Beijing for any reason.

The Field Director reserves the right to expel from the program any student who does not comply with the aforementioned rules, is physically aggressive or destructive of property, violates the dignity or rights of others, disrupts the educational function of the program, is otherwise harmful to its operation or its relation with the host country and affiliated institutions, or demonstrates the inability to participate constructively in the program.


Minzu is located in the east/northeastern part of Beijing, near the Embassy Quarter, which has a large number of western hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, and office buildings. Getting around in Beijing is very cheap and convenient with the subway, city buses, private mini-buses, and taxis all available in the area surrounding the university.
All students will be housed in Minzu’s Foreign Students’ Dormitory in double rooms. Each student will have a bed, desk with chair, lamp, small closet, and a safe (for storing valuables). The room is equipped with air conditioning, heating, telephone, cable television, high-speed cable internet, and a bathroom with a shower, sink and toilet. Hot water is available 24 hours a day with very occasional interruptions.

Specific dorm information will be supplied in the orientation packet you will receive once you arrive in Beijing.


Food and Meals

Students are not required to eat together as a group except for Friday afternoon, which is our “language table day.” Students have their choice of either eating in the foreign students’ cafeteria, Chinese students’ cafeteria or going out to eat at various restaurants. The main purpose of this arrangement is to encourage students to experience Chinese culture. Thus, unless prevented by medical, moral or religious restrictions, all students are expected to experience all aspects of Chinese cuisine, which is a significant aspect of the culture. Remember, it is not customary to tip in China.

The amount of money you spend on food varies greatly depending on the kind of restaurant you choose. As of this writing, we have found that an average of $8-$10 is the typical expense for three simple meals a day, assuming that you stay away from four star hotels and Western restaurants.

More details about menu favorites and restaurants will be provided in the orientation package you will receive upon arrival at the dorm.

Fitness Centers

On campus:

Campus Fitness Center
East Gate apartments, second basement level (under construction)

Outside campus: 

Bally Total Fitness Center
(5 min walk South from East Gate)
No. 31 Zhongguancun South Street
Shenzhou Building, 3rd Floor
Haidian District, Beijing
Tel: 6811-8899

Miracle Space Health Club (Weigong Shop)
No. 1 Weigongcun Road
Weibo Hao Homes, Building No.1, 5th Floor
Haidian District, Beijing
Tel: 8857-9065‎

Today Fitness Club
No. 1 Weigongcun Road
Weibo Hao Homes, Building No.2
Haidian District, Beijing

back to top 

Currency and Money Management

Renminbi (RMB), the basic unit of Chinese currency, is also called “yuan” or “kuai,” which is divided into ten “jiao” or “mao,” which is in turn divided into ten “fen.” The recent average rate of exchange has been between 7.0 and 6.8 RMB to the dollar.

Currency upon arrival and departure: You cannot secure Chinese currency outside of China, but you will be able to exchange currency in the airport lobby (at either an ATM or a bank window) upon arrival. When you leave China, your excess Chinese currency may be reconverted to U.S., Canadian, or Hong Kong currency (or you may take it out of the country with you for use during a future trip to China). To reconvert Chinese currency into foreign currency, you must present receipts for the original exchange from foreign to Chinese currency, so be sure to keep these receipts in case you need them upon departure.

Access to funds in China: MasterCard and Visa can be used at nearly any ATM. Be sure to check with your local bank or card carrier and notify them that you will be traveling abroad in order to avoid complications. If you have an American Express card plus an American or Hong Kong checking account, you may get cash (U.S. dollars or RMB) or purchase traveler’s checks for up to that company’s limit (currently $1,500 each 21-day period) at the Bank of China in the China World Trade Center (Guo2Mao4, a 20-minute walk from CUEB) or the Citi Bank. ATMs are becoming more common in China, but not all foreign ATM cards work on these machines (even when the banks at home insist that they work in China), so be sure to check before leaving the U.S. There is an ATM in the Bank of China branch located near ACC. We recommend that you use MasterCard or Visa as they are widely accepted throughout China.

Western Union Services and Other Ways to Transfer Money:
If you ever find yourself in a financial bind, e.g. surviving the very last two weeks of ACC on but 50 kuai or something like that, you can phone someone and ask for a Western Union money transfer. Simply give them the ACC address and you should be able to pick it up at the larger post office (Map #16) two bus stops from the school. Make sure you:

  1. Bring proper identification, i.e. passport;
  2. Record the transfer’s transaction number; and
  3. Know exactly how the sender has written out his or her name, including middle initial.

Otherwise, the Western Union agent will not give you the transfer. It usually takes a day or two for wired money to clear, but approximately three weeks to a month for international money orders.

Another method for transfer: Money may also be wired through a bank or it can be sent as an international money order (available at most post offices in the U.S.).

We recommend bringing adequate funds with you in order to avoid requiring emergency funds being sent from the United States. The best way to do this is to bring extra money in the form of traveler’s checks (the unused portion may be re-deposited into an account upon returning to the United States), or bring a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express along with personal checks.

Banks: near Minzu campus

Bank of China:

No. 18 Zhongguancun Street (opposite campus East Gate)
Haidian District, Beijing

No. 18 Zhongguancun South Street (opposite campus Small East Gate)
Beijing International School, 1-4 Floor, Block A
Haidian District, Beijing

China Construction Bank:

No. 7 Zhongguancun South Street,
Room 1, Ground Floor
Haidian District, Beijing

Spending Money

As stated in the previous section, we suggest that you travel to China with an adequate supply of money in the form of traveler’s checks. Although all room, tuition, textbooks, and travel costs have been included in the program fee, participants are responsible for paying for most meals and all incidental costs (personal entertainment, shopping, etc.). Each dorm room is equipped with a safe so that any unused traveler’s checks may be kept safe there until needed.

Please keep in mind that it is wiser to buy gifts for family and friends back home later during your stay in China. It may be tempting to start shopping right away, but most students find that they are able to spend money more wisely as they become more accustomed to their surroundings and more familiar with price ranges, quality of products and stores.

The amount of spending money you should bring depends on the amount of shopping and independent travel you wish to do in China. While prices have not increased significantly in recent times, higher-quality goods and services and travel opportunities are becoming increasingly available. It is a good idea to bring more money than you think you will need. Students who participated in last year’s program have reported that for the summer session, $600-$900 is a sufficient amount of spending money. For the fall and spring sessions, most students agreed that $2,000-$2,500 was a good amount to have on hand per semester. Students who plan on doing extensive traveling or who plan on buying many gifts may wish to have more money on hand. Please keep in mind that the currency exchange rate is going higher!

Post Office

To send letters and postcards, drop by the Xiao Youju (small post office). To send packages and luggage, you’ll have to go to the Da Youju (large post office). Please note: All international post offices provide boxes/packaging services for a small fee. Because all the contents of your package must be screened by a post office official before it can be sent, they prefer that you use their packaging services.

As for receiving packages, letters, etc. from family and friends, give them ACC’s address. Most packages will arrive to the dormitories unless they are too large. In that case, you must pick them up at the post office.

Please note: Tell your parents not to mark the value of the contents too high when sending things to China. Packages with values exceeding $100 will be subject to further charges at customs.

Mail gets here faster if the address is written in Chinese, so you may want to print out and make copies of the address in Chinese characters to speed up the process.

ACC Office
College of International Education
Minzu University of China
27 South Zhongguancun Street
Haidian District, Beijing 100081
Telephone: 86-10-65959258/68934344/68933263

Cell Phones, Phone Cards, and Skype 

Setting Up Your Cell Phone: Phone service in China operates on an essentially pre-paid system. Cell phone use in Beijing should be reserved primarily for local calls because making direct international calls from your cell phone is expensive. Additionally, there are two options for cell phone use in Beijing: you can either bring your own phone from home or buy a cell phone once you get to China.

If you plan to use your own cell phone, you must first “unlock” the SIM card code that keeps you from using other carriers. Most cell phone companies use SIM cards (except for Verizon), so you can just take out your old SIM card and use a Chinese SIM card. (Verizon phones cannot be unlocked because they do not use SIM cards.) Before the new SIM card will function, however, you must “unlock” your phone by inputting a special code that will allow you to use another phone company’s SIM card. To do this, call your phone company’s customer service line and tell them you are going abroad and wish to use the same phone. They should give you the code free of charge. Record this code and bring it with you to Beijing where the employees in a cell phone store will input the code after inserting the new SIM card.

You may also buy a cell phone in China. A second-hand cell phone costs anywhere between 300-800 RMB; a new cell phone costs 1500-5000 RMB. To set up a phone number, you can visit just about any cell phone store – the closest one, China Telecom, is located by the North Gate across the street from #17 on the map. The employees will show you a list of phone numbers, which are priced according to how “lucky” the number is. Phone numbers with the number 4 are generally cheaper, while phone numbers with the number 8 are more expensive. The cost of the phone number usually includes a 100 RMB phone card. The phone company will alert you once you have used almost the entire 100 RMB in phone calls and text messages (note: sending a text message is usually cheaper than calling someone). Save your SIM card in case you return to Beijing in the future.

Phone Cards for International Calls: You can buy a phone card at any time from 8 am-7 pm from various newsstands (more information will be given to you at ACC).

Skype: This is the least expensive way to keep in touch. If you have not already downloaded the Skype application, do so now. Invest in a microphone or a web camera with built-in microphone and you can communicate immediately with your friends and relatives – all for free if you have the application installed. Minzu recently updated its Internet connection, too, which means fewer dropped Skype calls. Visit skype.com for more information.


If you have a laptop computer we encourage you to bring it with you (and it is also convenient for checking email and surfing the Internet in your room). Since most notebook computers have adjustable power, students should not have trouble with the difference in voltage. Students should, however, check their computers to make sure that 220 voltage is acceptable. To use the Internet from your room, you will need to bring an internet cable. Students may also rent an Internet cable from the front desk for a small fee.

MS Office 2000 or XP used on PCs is Chinese-capable without any additional software, though the Chinese capability needs to be activated. It would be best if this is done before you depart for ACC. If your computer equipment is different from this, and if you anticipate using your computer for Chinese, you should consult with your Chinese teacher on your home campus before departing for ACC. You should bring your computer's purchase documentation with you in case your computer needs servicing while in China. Also, while you are traveling in China, the office can help you securely store your computer.

*Please note: Although each student has a personal safe located in his/her room, these are generally not large enough to hold lap top computers. Please be assured, however, that the Foreign Students’ Dorm is a very secure building, and your computer is completely safe. While traveling in China, the office can help you securely store your computer.

Here is some advice from former ACC students on computer needs:

  • Make sure you are familiar with the terms and conditions of your computer's warranty provided by the manufacturer.
  • Make sure you have a currency converter for the power adapter so as to avoid a power surge or other electric-related problems (battery, etc.).
  • Bring all of the adapters for your peripheral devices such as cameras and MP3 players.
  • If you have a Macintosh Apple Computer, bring your video-out adapters. If you have a PowerBook or PowerBook Pro, you absolutely want to bring your DVI to VGA adapter and Apple Remote (especially if you use Keynote for slide show presentations). Also, if you need service, there are support lines in China that can be found on the Apple China website. There is an Apple store at Jiànwài SOHO, but the prices seem to be higher than the ones listed online.
  • Bring a USB storage device.
  • Bring earphones.
  • If you run in to a file format error (you can't open a multimedia file given to you by ACC), go to http://www.zamzar.com and follow the prompts to upload and convert the file type. One of the most recognizable and universal file formats is MPG. It works with Quicktime, which is built into iTunes.

Electrical Appliances

Preparation for your very first class will require you to listen to audio CDs. Students may bring a portable CD player in order to prepare for class, but they are not necessary. Students can use their computers in order to prepare lessons and iPods can also be used. Class CDs can be uploaded onto your computer and transferred to your iPod.

The electric current in China is 220 volts, 50 cycles. Therefore, if you bring appliances from the U.S., you will need a voltage converter to convert U.S. equipment from 110 volts Electrical outlets in China are also much different from outlets in the U.S., so you may need adapters for your various appliances. These are widely available in China, but you may also find them at Radio Shack and most stores that specialize in electrical appliances.

An alternative is to buy Chinese-made electronics, though the quality is less consistent. CD players, CDs, and various sized batteries are all sold in China.

Please remember to make photocopies and bring any insurance/warranty information for your electronics. This will come in handy when dealing with the company overseas.

back to top 


Alcohol Abuse

One is tempted to say the legal drinking age in China is around eighteen, but a quick look around some bar areas reveals that young teenagers are likely downing Car Bombs while violating their high school program curfews. There is no enforced legal drinking age in China, which means that you are afforded the freedom to drink as you wish – a problem only compounded by how inexpensive alcohol is around these parts.

ACC is increasingly concerned about the alcohol culture within the ACC community and expects you to behave responsibly. The problem of alcohol abuse represents one of the most serious threats to the health and safety of ACC students. Disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. Remember, you are in China as a representative of the US. The Chinese legal system does not care whether you are a citizen or not (it just cares that you have broken the law).

Lessons in Baijiu and Erguotou (A type of white liquor)

While Chinese people are accustomed to drinking Baijiu, you likely are not. Chinese “white liquor” can be as strong as 120 to 130 proof. If you are not diligent, you may end up under the table. Please be advised that while visiting with your host families, teachers, or friends, you may find yourself in situations where you are invited – perhaps even strongly encouraged – to drink alcohol. You may refuse such invitations without offending your companions by saying the following: "Wo bu xing le" (I cannot drink anymore)?"Wo kuai zui le" (I’ll quickly become drunk), and "Wo meiyou jiuliang" (I have low tolerance). You can also say "Duibuqi, wo bu hejiu (Sorry, I don't drink alcohol).

Mixing medication and alcohol is never a good idea. Finally, don’t expose yourself to danger or put yourself in a situation that might risk the reputation of ACC. Keep in mind that while in China, you are not only representatives for your home institution, but for ACC as well. Don’t allow your friends to drink until they’re stumbling and slurring their words. Take care of one another.

Illegal Drugs Will Not Be Tolerated

Possession of illegal drugs may result in official action by Chinese authorities. The right of “habeas corpus” does not apply abroad and pre-trial detention can last several months. Also, Chinese officials may conduct searches at customs entry and exit points for drugs and other contraband. Anyone found with contraband is subject to punishment as specified in Chinese law, and neither ACC nor the U.S. embassy can interfere with the work of the Chinese legal system. For this reason, ACC strictly forbids drug use among students enrolled in our program. If the ACC resident staff finds a student using or carrying any illegal drugs, including marijuana, the student will be immediately expelled from the program. The ACC advisory committee reserves the right to dismiss from ACC any student who violates the laws of the host country, including those that relate to the use, possession, or distribution of drugs.

Going Out

In the past, ACC students have lost their wallets, bags, and purses because they assumed someone would watch their belongings once they stepped away from the group. Please keep an eye on your things and never bring your passport out unless you really must do so.

While a vast majority of Chinese people genuinely want to talk with you and are more than willing to help you, you must still be careful about your choices. There are some Chinese people who will try and cheat you, and not only because you are a foreigner.

If you are approached by anyone on the street who then offers to take you somewhere else, especially restaurants, tea houses or bars, it is a much better idea to politely turn them down. Often these people are hired by these establishments to bring in customers who are then expected to pay when the bill comes, and it can be very expensive. If you do find yourself in this kind of situation do not let them know you have a credit card. Try to lower the bill and pay with cash, especially if you find yourself in the company of some very large and tough looking new friends. Usually the prices they give you are fake, so offer to pay as much as you have and then leave. The most important thing is to protect your safety, so please be careful. Additionally, try to get a receipt and tell Zh?ng L?osh? as soon as possible. There are no guarantees, but ACC will help you try to get the lowest price possible.

Other safety tips: Be alert when going out alone at night (i.e. don’t bring your handbag with you), biking on the street, and walking across the street - cars in Beijing will not stop for you. Avoid going to Sanlitun (a bar district) alone and try not to stay there too late.

Register at the U.S. Embassy on-line as soon as possible – if you lose your passport, it will be much easier to get a replacement. Notify ACC whenever you leave Beijing.

back to top 

What to Bring

Towels are not provided by Minzu, though bedsheets are. You might want to bring one towel for the first week you are there, and then you can purchase more.


Durable, washable, comfortable clothing is best for all seasons. Aim to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Style is not as important as comfort and general tidiness.

Summer: Beijing is quite hot and humid during the summer. Use your own judgment and dress accordingly. Sandals are common for men and women. Also bring sneakers and walking shoes, cotton socks, a bathing suit, cool pajamas, and loose summer trousers.

Fall, winter, and spring: Dark colors are recommended, and you should think in terms of dressing in multiple layers for warmth. For outdoors, you’ll need warm socks, pants, jacket, hat and gloves. The building where you live and have classes is warm. In March, the weather begins to become warmer again, but it can be very windy at times.

A pair of good sunglasses (available in some Chinese retail stores) will protect your eyes from glare and the ubiquitous dust and grime, especially if you wear contact lenses.

All types of clothing are available in Beijing, and at much better prices than elsewhere in the world. So unless you are a very odd size, you don’t really need to bring too much with you. Note: don’t bring or buy clothes you would be upset about ruining. Keep nice clothes down to one or two outfits for special occasions – the rest should be fairly casual and dispensable.


American and many joint-venture products such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, soaps, shampoos, tampons, and other toiletries are available in joint-venture stores and even some local Chinese stores. Based on reports from last year’s participants, however, we do recommend that if you have a strong preference for a specific brand of toiletry, bring extra since some students found it difficult to find an adequate supply while in China. It is also a good idea to bring your own deodorant, since it is very expensive and difficult to find in China.

If you wear contact lenses, bring some solution. Lens Crafters and Bausch & Lomb have branch offices in Beijing where saline solutions, contact lenses, and other eye products can be purchased. Bring a pair of glasses in case your eyes become too irritated to wear your contacts. There is a lot of dust in the Beijing air. It is also wise to bring a copy of your eyeglass prescription.

When traveling around China, it is a good idea to carry a small first-aid kit equipped with aspirin, antibiotic ointment, and Band-Aids.


Beijing is now a cosmopolitan city where just about everything is available (and at better prices than elsewhere in the world). The items in the following list are most likely available in Beijing as well, but perhaps not in your favorite brand, style or size.

  • Backpack for outings and field trips
  • Deodorant (this is an imported good in China and thus very expensive so bring enough with you to ensure the brand you prefer at a reasonable price)
  • Portable CD player/iPod for class purposes (listening & language learning CDs)
  • USB Memory Stick
  • Music
  • Tampons
  • Traveler’s checks
  • Contact lens solution
  • Credit cards
  • Dental floss
  • Pictures of family & U.S.
  • Vitamins
  • Cold medicine, decongestants
  • Aspirin/pain-reliever
  • Good socks
  • Anti-diarrheal/laxative
  • Sneakers
  • Pepto-Bismol/Kaopectate
  • Insect repellent/Benadryl for mosquito bites
  • Cough drops
  • A portable alarm clock
  • Sunglasses
  • China guide books
  • Chapstick
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera (and film if you use slides and faster speeds)
  • Gifts for host family
  • For fall students, American holiday/Christmas cards to give out
  • Plastic (Nalgene) bottle for the hot water dispensers
  • American mechanical pencils (the ones in China are slightly less durable)
  • Granola bars (great to have on hand when transitioning to Chinese food)
  • Hand sanitizer

back to top 

Frequently Asked Questions: Living in China

May I live in a single if I choose? Single rooms are not available to students. This is an ACC regulation for which there are several reasons. First, speaking only in Chinese with another language student is considered part of the immersion process at ACC. The necessity of communicating with a roommate will assist you in honing your day-to-day conversation skills. Second, our host institution limits the number of rooms that it rents out to ACC, so we simply do not have enough rooms to offer singles. Third, the residential component of the ACC program is vital to its functioning; students must work and live together as a group with the Field Director and her assistant. A lottery is conducted to determine which upper-level students may live off-campus. Otherwise, you may not live off-campus nor rent additional space off-campus while the program is in session. This rule does not apply to long breaks between semesters when housing is not provided by ACC.

Can we drink the water in China? All tap water must be boiled before consumption. A hot water machine is installed on each floor in the dorm (but only the one on the first floor is open 24 hours), and each student has one thermos. For cold drinking water, you may either buy bottled water or cool the boiled water in your own bottle.

I know we don’t have a meal plan. May I cook in the dorm? Students cannot cook in the dorm. There is a refrigerator and electric kettle in each room. There is also a coffee shop on the first floor and a restaurant on both the first and second floor.

Do I need to bring my own sheets, towels, etc.? The rooms are furnished with pillowcases, sheets and blankets – towels are not provided. The dorm’s custodial staff changes linens weekly. Please be courteous to the dormitory staff and maintain good relations with them. This is obviously in your own interest. The same applies to your contacts with the staff of the dining hall.

How will I do my laundry in Beijing? There are washing machines in the basement of the dormitory. Some machines are equipped with dryers. Students need to buy laundry coins to use the machines. There are several laundries on campus as well.

Do I need to bring my own hangers? Students are not allowed to hang things on the wall in the room, but there are some hangers that can be used in the closet.

Where can I work out when I’m in China? Does the University have a gym? MUC has some sports facilities open to all students, such as track and field, basketball and volleyball courts, tennis court, football field. There is a small gym for pinpang and badminton. There are also several commercial gyms or fitness centers around the campus.

Will there be a problem for me to practice my religion in China? Only the Falungong, which the Chinese government considers to be a cult, should not be publicly avowed. Freedom of religion is being touted these days. It is true that some Chinese consider all religions, and especially the traditional Chinese religions, to be beneath the dignity of a modern cultivated person. But interest in religion has been rising among the Chinese. In the U.S. there has been a rise in all religions among the educated youth, and several ACC students recently wanted to do independent projects on religious issues (such as Buddhism) in China, and they were able to do so quite successfully.

May I arrive early (before the program starts) just to get acclimated to Beijing? Or, may I stay on after the program is over? You may arrive early and stay in the dorm, or stay after the dorm is “closed” at the end of the term, at your own cost. The nightly fee for your room is $6-25, depending on the amenities in the room and whether it is single or double. Simply let the ACC staff know of your intentions well in advance.

What if I want to travel around China for a few weeks after the end of the program? Do I have to take all of my things with me? The dormitory building will store your belongings for 1 RMB per piece per day while you travel. Please speak with ACC staff to arrange this.

I am staying for two terms and want to travel outside of China during the break. I only have a single entry visa. What should I do? Speak to the ACC staff before you leave for your travels. They will direct you to the Public Security Bureau where you can obtain a re-entry visa that allows you to re-enter and stay through the validity period of your original visa. If you leave China without taking this step, you will have to get an entirely new visa, which can be complicated. Your student visa is good for six months. Should you be remaining with ACC for longer than 6 months, the ACC staff in Beijing will assist you in getting your visa renewed during your stay.

I know that ACC has a very strict language pledge. What about communicating via telephone and e-mail with my family and friends? We do take the language pledge very seriously. However, we understand that your family and friends for the most part cannot speak Chinese. Of course you may speak English to them on the phone, however we request that you keep your dorm door closed during those times so as to avoid too much English floating around the hallways. If your family or friends visit you in Beijing, we ask that you speak English only outside of the dorm. E-mailing is fine as well.

May I have friends stay overnight with me in the dorm? Are there regulations or cultural mores that should be followed in Chinese dormitories that would differ from what I’m used to? The dormitory has rules pertaining to visitation hours and overnight guests. Normally, guests are not permitted to stay in your room overnight. But if the dormitory has empty beds, your friend may arrange to stay for a small fee. Guests should also be prepared to leave their passport at the front desk. Keeping an overnight guest of the opposite sex in your room is strictly forbidden and will result in a stiff penalty.

How much am I likely to spend on local transportation during a term? Are the buses and subways expensive? Public transportation is extremely inexpensive, ranging from 1 RMB for the non-express buses, 3 RMB for the in-city subway system, to 8 RMB on the express bus clear across town. You can buy a monthly pass which is cheaper and more convenient. Taxis are metered and cost 10 RMB for the first mile or so.

The following FAQ’s were compiled by our office in Beijing

We are writing this Q&A for the student’s convenience, and this Q&A list is based on the ACC office’s many years of experience in dealing with our students’ needs. It contains very useful information and tips. Before you ask the ACC Hamilton office or Beijing office for information or assistance, please read this carefully.

Prior to departure to China or at the beginning of the academic semester.

Q. What documents must I bring with me when I enter China?
A. Besides your passport and valid visa, you need your JW202 form and the admission letter.

Q.When is the official date of the dorm opening for students so that I do not have to pay rent?
A.It all depends on the semester as the dates can be a bit different. We recommend that you check with the ACC handbook or confirm with the ACC office at acchina@hamilton.edu. Generally speaking, the dorm opens on Tuesday the week prior to the first day of class – that is when you can move in.

Q. How much will I pay for the room if I move in before the dorm’s official open date?
A.If you move into the dorm before the official opening date, you must pay for your room. The charge is ¥210/day. If you can find a roommate, you will save some money. You can ask the front desk for information or help, but they are not responsible for finding you a roommate.

Q. Can I leave my luggage at ACC while I am traveling in China?
A. Yes, Mrs. Zhang, the person in charge, works Monday –Friday, 9am-11am and 2pm-4pm. You can check at the front desk to help locate her. She normally works in the basement. The fee is 1/day/piece, and you should try not to have too many pieces of luggage.

Q. Can I leave my valuables, such as laptop, at ACC?
A. Yes, right before your departure (during ACC’s office hours, you can leave them with the ACC staff.

Q. If I arrive at the dorm after working hours, can I still check in?
A. Yes, the dorm’s front desk is open 24 hours a day, so you can check in at any time.

Q. My visa is L or X, what should I do?
A.You will need to change it to a student visa in order to legally stay in China. You will need the following items for a new visa: your JW202 form, admission letter, one passport photo, and ¥1,000.00. The ACC office staff can help you apply for a student visa.

During the Semester?

Q. If I am sick, where can I see a doctor?
A. If you have American health insurance and high fees are not a problem, you can go to the International Health Center or Vista Clinic. Taxi drivers know both places and they are open 24/7. A more reasonable hospital that provides first-rate medical care is the International Section in the Beijing Sino-German hospital. Taxi drivers are familiar with this hospital as well. All receipts can be issued in English, and you can also ask the doctors to give you an English statement regarding the illness. These will be necessary for you to get reimbursed from your insurance companies. You can use credit cards in all three places.

Q. If my computer needs repair, what can I do?
A. ACC has an IT tech person for all computer maintenance. If something is wrong with your computer, we can ask him to take a look and give some suggestions, but he is not paid to take care of students’ computers. You will most likely have to go to a specialized computer shop to repair a brand-named computer. The ACC office can try to find the necessary information for you.

Q. If any equipment or furniture in my room breaks, what can I do?
A. You need to call the front desk as soon as possible, and they will send someone over to repair the damage.

Q. If my family or friends want to come and visit me, are there hotels nearby?
A.There are several hotels in the area, and their prices vary according to their standards and also the time of year (from $40-$200). The ACC office staff can assist you in reserving hotel rooms.

Q. If my visa will expire before my return date, what should I do?
A. Have your JW202 form and admission letter ready, and come to the ACC office as soon as possible so that the office staff can help you apply for a new visa.

Toward the end of the semester, and most of this information is for returning students:

Q. After the semester ends, I plan to travel abroad and then return to China, however, my visa is a single-entry – what should I do?
A. If you plan on returning to ACC to study for another semester, you will need to bring your JW202 form, the admission letter, one passport photo, and ¥1,000.00. The ACC office staff can help you apply for a new student visa. If you are no longer an ACC student after the semester ends, you will not be able to apply for a Chinese visa in Beijing. You will need to apply for a new L visa from the country you are going to.

Q. As a returning student, I would like to live off-campus – what should I do?
A. ACC has rented several apartments outside of campus. Based on the availability of rooms, that will determine the number of students who can apply for off-campus housing. ACC will make arrangements. If there are not enough off-campus rooms, we will use a lottery system to decide who can live where.

Q. I will be a two-semester ACC student – if my visa expires before the end of the second semester, what should I do?
A. The ACC office will help you apply for a new visa. All you need is to bring the following documents: JW202 form, the admission letter, one passport photo.

Q. I’m going to travel in China – when is the last possible date for me to return to ACC?
We recommend you come back early. The latest time you can return to ACC is Friday before the first day of class, because on Saturday we will conduct a class meeting where you will get class information, your textbooks, and meet your teachers and classmates.

Q. After graduating from ACC, I want to stay in Beijing. Can ACC help me find a cheap apartment?
A.We can help you get information, but we can not guarantee finding an apartment for you. For a short stay, it will be difficult to find a good bargain.

Q.I have some clothes and other stuff I don’t want to bring back to the US – what should I do with them?
A.You can leave everything at the office. We will give them to a church that will send them to people in need.

Q. I want to mail my things back to the US – how much will it cost?
A. If you don’t need these things soon, you can choose to mail them surface, which, according to the post office, usually takes about 3 months. However, it actually often takes only one month or so. You need to use the post office’s boxes (over ¥10/box). Postage starts at ¥ 20/kg, and then increases ¥8 for every kg. Mailing is not cheap. If possible, reducing items in your luggage is the cheapest way to go.


Finally, we would like to take a moment to clarify several common misconceptions concerning Beijing and to advise you about several potential problems.

It is very important that you realize ahead of time that you will be entering a different culture and a different social milieu; you must not expect to find all the conveniences that American universities provide their students. In particular, you should be aware of the following:

  • Libraries: Minzu has a library from which students can borrow books and where they can study. Magazines are also available for students. The National Library is just outside of campus and is a great resource.
  • Part-time jobs: Generally speaking, these are not available. For both legal and social reasons, we discourage this. Moreover, the intensity of the program is such that you would not have time for a part-time job.
  • Public transportation: Students should use public transportation as much as possible, mainly because doing as most Chinese people do is a wonderful cultural experience.

While Beijing is considerably safer than many American cities, in recent years there has been an alarming rise in the amount of petty theft (purse snatching, pick pocketing on crowded buses and subways). Our orientation will include information on this problem with specific suggestions on how to minimize, if not eliminate, the chance that you might fall victim to such an occurrence. Please take this advice seriously.

To avoid complications, make a copy of the pages in your passport that contain personal data and information regarding when and where the passport was issued. Make certain your passport number is legible. Carry two extra passport photos. This packet will enable you to replace your passport quickly. Even before contacting your embassy or consulate for a replacement, notify the local police of the loss.

back to top 

Student Comments

“Make an effort to get up and go out on the weekends. Explore a market or spend some time in one of the many many parks around Beijing. It's worth it! The parks are full of people doing all kinds of exercises, dances, and activities like majiang. Bring some homework to a park, restaurant, or tea shop and see if you can get to know anyone working there. Don't be afraid to ask questions or answer some about yourself.”
- Matthew Gessen (Summer/Fall 2009)

“To Citibank holders: you can basically withdraw money at any bank or ATM. At first I thought I’d have to travel into Sanlitun every time but I had no trouble. Also, doing laundry in Beijing was a bit of a hassle. I suggest you get laundry bags so that your clothes don’t get tangled in the laundry machine and make sure you use fabric softener because the water in Beijing hardens your clothes…and put in EXTRA laundry detergent. And like ACC says…Don’t bring your favorite clothes because you’re probably going to wreck them.”
- Takako Yoshizawa (Spring 2009)

“ATM cards worked the best. I didn’t seem to have a problem with the Bank of China. I think most of our cards worked there. I would bring a couple of traveler’s checks and just save them towards the end. I know that when I was there, I didn’t bring any but my friend did and she actually forgot about them until the end so that was some extra bonuses for her.”
 – Rebecca Ching (summer/fall 2008)

“HSBC: If students open an account at an American branch of HSBC, there will be no withdrawal fees at HSBC ATMs in China. HSBC ATM cards can be used at any bank (with a small withdrawal fee). Cash is best. Bring more RMB than you expect to spend because the currency exchange process is quite tedious.”
– Sappho Su (summer/fall 2008)

“If you are a Bank of America checking account holder, you are in luck. If you are not, become one before you leave for ACC! While in China, I was able to use Bank of America’s Chinese partner, The China Construction Bank. There is an ATM located across the street from The Capital University of Economics and Business (CUEB). I was able to use it just like an ATM in the United States to get cash (yuan) without any service or exchange fees. To make things even more convenient, my account was connected to my parent’s. This way, if I ever needed more money they could transfer it into my account from a Bank of America branch or by using online banking. I was then able to take it out of the ATM’s in China. Not only was this convenient in Beijing, but everywhere we travelled over the course of the semester: Xi’an, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Datong, Qingdao, and Dalian. The transactions posted to my account just like transactions made in the US, which made it quite easy to keep track of my spending. Having Bank of America definitely beat waiting in long lines to exchange traveler checks. As with all important documents, just be careful and smart and enjoy the experience!”
– Jazmine Coleman (summer/fall 2007)

“I wish I brought thicker coats, hats, scarves.. you name it! It got really cold towards the end of the semester, and I’m sure it’s cold there now.”
– Rebecca Ching (summer/fall 2008)

“Bring lots of pictures of home, school, travel, etc. Your host family will want to know all about your everyday lives in the US. Gifts for initial meeting (note that you may have different host families in spring and summer, so you may need two sets of gifts. College gear works as well)”
– Heidi Chun (summer/fall 2008)

“There was a really reasonably priced computer shop across the street from the giant WALMART that everyone at ACC knows. This computer shop helped out when Dell would not service my computer overseas. I strongly suggest it. It’s not a big company, but the young men who run the shop are knowledgeable.”
– Andrew Steele (summer/fall 2008)

“Think twice about buying electronics like cameras in China as they may be available for much cheaper in the US. For example, after my digital camera broke, I found a new Canon one in China for about US $250 (set price, from Canon), and then found out it was sold for $110 through Amazon.com or for $150 USD through the Canon company itself.”
– Heidi Chun (summer/fall 2008)

“Always do research before buying/fixing your electronics. I found it extremely helpful to scan through forums online about certain electronic shops...etc. You want to be careful with what you buy, because chances are once you buy it, you won’t be able to return it. And sometimes because they can see that you are a foreigner, they won’t hesitate to sell you a 3g USB memory stick that really only has 1g inside. Always ask the teachers for advice, as they know which places are the best to go to. And sometimes they might even accompany you. “
– Rita Tran (summer/fall 2007)

Although I feel like many students are unwilling to take the bus for whatever reason, they’re incredibly cheap and an indispensible resource for getting around on a budget. It took a while for me to learn the bus routes but once you do, it’s a huge help in terms of getting around town.”
– John Garrison (spring/fall 2008)

“A former ACC student told me before I left: When you get discouraged, know that the Laoshi (teachers) recognize and appreciate hard work, so don’t sweat the grades. Just keep doing your best and making the most out of your time in Beijing. I found this advice useful, and hopefully you will as well.”
– Heidi Chun (summer/fall 2008

back to top

Suggested Readings

Lijia Zhang and Calum MacLeod, China Remembers. (London: Oxford University Press, 1999)

Jung Chang, Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991).

Cheng Li, Rediscovering China: Dynamics and Dilemmas of Reform. (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1997).

Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power. (New York: Vintage Books, 1994).

Peter Hessler, River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze. (New York: Harper Collins, 2001).

Orville Schell and David Shambaugh, eds. The China Reader: The Reform Era. (New York: Vintage Books, 1999).

Warren I. Cohen, America's Response to China: A History of Sino-American Relations, 4th edition. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000).

Patrick Tyler, A Great Wall: Six Presidents and China. (New York, Public Affairs, 2000).

James Mann, About Face: A History of America's Curious Relationship With China. (New York: Vintage Books, 2000).

Robert E. Allison, ed., Understanding the Chinese Mind: The Philosophical Roots. (Hong Kong, Oxford University Press, 1989).

Paul S. Ropp, ed., Heritage of China: Contemporary Perspectives on Chinese Civilization. (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1990).

W.Hu and C. Grove, Encountering the Chinese, 1991

C. Blackman, Negotiating China: Case Studies and Strategies, 1997

J.K. Fairbank, China: A New History, 1992

Perry Link, Evening Chats in Beijing, 1992

A. Thurston, China Bound: Revised, 1994

back to top