Living in China

China is one of the most spectacular places in the world. China is a huge country with many different climates and types of landscape.   China’s traditional values were derived from various versions of Confucianism (a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius). Buddhism is the only foreign religion that has been widely accepted in China.

China is abundant with history and culture. Chinese philosophers, writers and poets were highly respected and they worked to preserve and promote the culture of the nation. Some noted classical scholars attracted the displeasure of authorities for their daring depictions of the lives of the common people.  The Chinese invented numerous musical instruments too. Physical fitness is highly regarded in China. Most elderly people practice ‘tai chi chuan’ and ‘qigong’ in parks. Board games such as Chess, Go (Weiqi), and Xiaangqi (Chinese chess) are also characteristic of the country.

China has now become one of the most preferred education destinations for Indian students who wish to pursue higher studies.  At present there are over 2,000 universities and colleges, and more than six million enrollments in total. China has set up a degree system, including Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees which are open to foreign students. In addition, the country offers non-degree programs too.  Classes in most universities are held from early morning (usually 8am) to late evening (usually 10pm).  Almost all institutions provide food and boarding for students on campus.  As compared with former generations of university students China, students nowadays enjoy great freedom and diversity of activities both within and outside their campuses.
It is considered that public universities especially are better than national their counterparts. Selection of students is usually based on students’ performances in the National Higher Education Entrance Examination. Moreover, entrance scores required by public universities are much higher than those of private universities. However private universities in China have been developing only recently, thus students can easily consider private universities academically less competitive.


Foreign students are required to submit Visa Application Form for studying in China. The form (JW201 form) must be submitted at the nearest Chinese embassy.  If one plans to stay in China for less than half a year, he/she may apply for a foreign visa.

The documents necessary for application of a student visa include, an original passport, with validity of at least 6 months, containing blank visa pages (other than pages for endorsements or amendments); Chinese Visa Application Form completed, and duly signed by the applicant; one recent passport size photograph, affixed to the visa application form (Life photos, copied photos, and digital photos that are printed on ordinary paper are not acceptable).

Also note, application form for children (under the age of 18), must be signed by their parents or guardians.

Four working days are needed for regular visa application processing. A surcharge of $50 or $35 shall apply for Rush (same day) or Express (second or third working day) services, respectively. All Rush applications should be submitted prior to 11 a.m.

Applicants should check the issued visa upon collection and if necessary raise any queries at the same time. If there is no immediate query relating to the issued visa, the applicant is held responsible for any circumstances thereafter
Visa Application Form of the People’s Republic of China must be filled out with absolute accuracy, seriousness, and care. Failure to provide information in a complete manner may lead to delay or rejection of the application, in which case the applicant shall be solely responsible for all the likely consequences.

Lost Passport

In the event when an Indian student loses his/her passport, following steps must be adopted to contain the damage:
  •  Immediately report this matter to a police station or public security close to you to obtain an official report of passport loss.

  • Apply for a Duplicate Passport as soon as possible from Indian embassy in Beijing or consulate in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

  • Provide the following papers-
  1. Official police report about loss of passport.
  2. Xerox of the lost passport, provided you have one. If not, essential details about the passport must be offered
  3. A written application describing the occasion when the passport was lost.
  4. Four recent colored passport-sizet photographs.
  5. An appropriately filled-in Application Form No. EAP-I.

Note: The Duplicate Passport is only issued when embassy receives the Confirmation Receipt from the concerned Regional Passport Office in India.

Health Care and Medical Insurance

There many familiar drugs available in China, but in time for in an emergency, the language barrier might proves to be time-consuming and troublesome.  Thus, it is best to pack a few precautionary items with you, especially for minor illnesses and injuries, such as the following:

  •  Band-Aids
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Headache medicine
  • Something for an upset stomach or diarrhea
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Insect repellent
  • Allergy medication
  • Cold medicine
  • Sunscreen
 There has been occasions when medical emergencies including unfortunate accidents/death of students, leading to heavy hospital expenditures costing copious amounts of money. It is advised that the students have medical insurance at all times. Further, after arrival and stay in China, one should ensure that one’s insurance is renewed on a regular basis. 

It is essential for students to have proof of medical insurance cover recognized in China, while applying for a study permit. China Health Insurance has extensive experience in providing international health insurance plans to expatriates residing in China.

If one encounters some minor ailments while in China and are happy with the treatment in a public clinic, then a lot of money can be saved.  However if one in a serious medical situation (i.e. you are injured by one of the many traffic accidents) and needs specialist treatment or even medical evacuation, you will not get the treatment you need unless you have a large quantity of ready cash. Hence, it becomes important to guard against the burden of exorbitant medical bills by way of medical insurance. If a student is relying on sponsorship, he/she should ensure that the sponsor is informed off this requirement at the onset of the sponsorship or an admission offer from an institution.  Most institutions do not accept a letter from the sponsor in lieu of payment.  Payment for the required medical aid cover fee is usually made directly to the medical aid Company, exclusive of the tuition fees.

Safety Precautions and Awareness:

  •  Ensure that you keep photocopies of relevant pages in your passport and other important documents in a separate place.
  • Keep important documents and money in a safe place.
  • Always carry with you some identification and details of persons to be contacted in case of an emergency. Always carry a card with the name and address of your hotel so you can show it to a taxi driver if you get lost.
  • As a safety standard, female students must be more vigilant about their surroundings.  Taking short, unfamiliar routes, especially at night, must be avoided at all cost.  It is often better to travel around with at least one other person.  It is common sense to leave unsolicited attention from locals, unacknowledged.
  • There have been cases of fighting amongst the students of different nationalities, and incidents of petty theft and robbery, especially in South China. So, there students must be cautious of their belongings, both in their dormitories as well as while traveling outside.
  • Students must cross-check what an agent tells them with the website of the concerned institution and with the reliable sources of information There has episodes of students being exploited by corrupt agents and unscrupulous educational institutions.  Thus, it is essential to ensure that the agent gives all the assurances and promises made by him, in writing, complete with his/her signature.  Such precautions can guard students against deceitful practice o agents, whereby they cheat students of their money by promising students admissions, on fake University letterheads.
  • Also, due to misleading or wrong information from agents, several students come to China without the required financial resources or support.  Students must be fully aware that it is not possible for a student to work in China to pay tuition fees or meet other expenses. Hence, it is only apt to come to China, financially prepared.
Note: In case you have a complaint, get in touch with the officer responsible for International student welfare at the University. In case the University authorities are unable to help, students may get in touch with the Education Officer at Embassy of India/Consulate of India.

Work while Studying

As per Chinese laws, foreign students can not be employed in China while they are still in college. However, part-time work or internships are occasionally permitted. English-teaching jobs are comparatively easier to find for native English speakers.
Self-supporting students must be well prepared to sustain themselves financially, before they come to China.


International students in China can choose to live in the university’s hotel or dormitory. One can choose to not live at campus with the permission of one’s school.
On-campus dormitories usually offer single rooms, double rooms or deluxe rooms.  The dormitories caters to most needs, such as, lockers, bedding, air conditioner, TV sets, inexpensive or free Internet access, communal kitchens, refrigerators, hot water toilet, shower facilities, and the like. Certain universities in the north provide heaters also, in winters.

The cost of accommodation ranges approximately somewhere between INR 180 to INR 1,077 per day.  Depending on the university, the city and the type of room, costs may differ.
Students who choose to live off campus can find English listings for rental accommodation/roommates through estate agents in China or on expatriate websites. Students must check the local listings to get a sense of the rent prices for off-campus lodgings. Rentals vary according to the city and condition of apartments.  For instance,  in Beijing, the cost ranges between INR 10,770 to INR 21,540 per room per month, excluding bills. It is possible to find cheaper lodgings, and cost of accommodations in smaller cities is comparatively cheaper. Moreover, bargaining rental costs is an agreeable practice in China.

If the applicant is going to stay at a relative or friend’s home while visiting China, and consequently unable to present hotel booking, an invitation letter containing the residence address, telephone number, and a copy of the host’s ID card or residence permit must be provided instead.

Conveyance/Modes of Transport

There are various modes of transport in China which foreign travelers can avail. Public transport, especially in the countryside or a city during rush hour, is not an easy task. The different modes of transport include, plane, train, bus, (intercity and citywide) taxi and bicycle. Sedan chairs (a closed chair for one passenger, carried on poles by two bearers).

Planes are the most convenient way to commute to large distances between cities, quickly and efficiently.

Train is the next best and economical mode of transport between cities. Seats of trains are categorized as hard seat, hard sleeper and soft sleeper, soft being the most expensive. 

Buses, including ‘sleeper buses’, travel between cities.  The quality of buses would vary according to the distance and destination headed to.  Modern and air-conditioned buses ply between major cities, say from Beijing to Xian. It must be noted that destinations are exclusively written in Chinese, so knowing the language is necessary. On the positive side, buses are very cheap, and they cost only 25p a journey.
Subways also operate in China.

Taxis are the most expensive means to travel. Though it is a reasonably good means of transport, but it is exorbitantly expensive.  It is prudent to carry a road map of one’s preferred destination with oneself.

With congested road and excessive traffic during rush hours, bicycle is a quick and efficient way to get around.

Places of Historic and Cultural Significance

The land of Beijing is teeming with attractions of cultural and historical significance.  Few of the well-known places include the Former Imperial Palace, Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, and the Zhoukoudian ruins of Peking Man.  These are also world famous cultural heritage sites that have been endorsed by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Among other places of interest, China boasts a number of art galleries and museums too.  National Palace Museum, Gu Gong (Palace) Museum, and Sackler Museum at Peking University, in Beijing, are a few examples of notable museums.  People who have profound interest in art can visit art galleries. Modern Gallery in Beijing, Beijing Tang Contemporary Arts Center, Galleria Continua, and ShanghART Gallery, are just to name a few.

Climate and Clothing

China has a seasonal and continental climate. Most part of China is in the temperate zone but southern parts are in the tropical or subtropical zone while northern areas are in the frigid zone.  Northern Heilongjiang Province has a winter climate the year round without summer, while Hainan Island has a summer climate the year round without winter.
April, May, September and October are the peak tourist months at China’s most popular destinations when the weather is the most comfortable. 

While, in Winter, overcoat, cotton clothes, lined coats are to be worn, in very cold areas a cap, gloves and cotton-padded shoes are necessary  In Summer, T-shirts, short sleeve shirts, skirts, sandals, caps, rain wear can be worn. Western suits, jackets, sports coats, light woolen sweaters, rain wear and travel shoes are needed in Autumn.  In  Spring Western suits, jackets, sports coats, woolen jackets, long sleeve shirts and travel shoes are required.


Chinese culinary arts are famous all over the world.  In China, it is believed that vegetarian cooking dates back to ancient times.  Hence, students who are vegetarians need not worry about food, as there are fair numbers of vegetarian options available in china. Different regions of China have different types of cuisine. There is no one particular type of food. Noodle dishes are commonly eaten in north of China, whereas the southerners like rice better. Noodles, rice, tofu, and vegetables are the backbone of Chinese cuisine, and they are all present in vegetarian cooking.  Few of the ingredients commonly used in Chinese dishes are rice vinegar, black beans, bamboo shoots, chilli sauce, rice, noodles, oyster sauce, sesame paste, peanuts, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and the like.

Money Matters

The cost of studying in China is relatively low than in study destinations situated in developed nation, like USA. The cost of living in China is also comparatively low. 
For a two-semester stay in China, at least INR 55,000 plus enough to cover tuition fees, is required. If one travel during the holidays, of course, you will need a correspondingly greater amount of money available.
Scholarship students (e.g. of the American Fulbright program) and those who participate in programs through their home universities need not worry the tuition. Self-financing students need to pay an application fee of about INR 46,000 (Peking University) plus tuition, which runs to INR 1,47,200- 1,70,200 (approx.) per year. Less renowned schools are cheaper. Most universities have an English website where such information can be found.
 Dorm room prices vary and have become more expensive at most universities over the last couple of years. The reason behind escalated prices is due to modernization of many dorm buildings, carried out for the benefit of foreign students. A double-occupancy room without adjoining shower/toilet costs between INR 162 and INR 1,932 per night. Single rooms with facilities are priced higher, per night. For extended stays, it’s worthwhile to rent your own apartment.  It gives you the benefit of having one’s very own room, bathroom, and kitchen, the rent is often less expensive than required to pay in the dorms.  Monthly rent for a Chinese apartment amounts to about INR 12,994 200, it could be higher in large cities such as Beijing or Shanghai

The cost of food in China is very low if one chooses to cook at home rather than dine out.. The price of essential food is controlled in China, so the expenses are manageable. Most students eat out every day as there is often no suitable kitchen in the dormitory.  Cheap restaurant meal starts at one euro (INR 67 aprox.) and up. A student can meet his/her average needs of survival at a budget of approximately INR 23,000 a month.

The entertainment and tourism cost depends on one’s choice of destination and preferences.  The average cost of inter-provincial holiday travel is approximately between INR 1,980 to-22,950

Indian Embassy and Communities in China

The Indian Community in Beijing (ICB) was formed on 12th December,1999.  It acts as a channel between the Indian Embassy and the community as and when required.

The core committee meets on a regular basis to decide on activities for the Indian community living in Beijing. The community endeavors to provide for people of Indian origin by means of periodic get-togethers, outings, and the like.  Correspondence through weekly e-mails providing useful information on a variety of subjects, is also carried out by ICB.

ICB provides necessary advice and assistance to anyone coming to Beijing for work sojourning.

For information on the Indian community in China, the following individuals may be contacted in Beijing and Tianjin –


Mr. A.S.Sankara Narayanan
President of ICB


Shri Harpreet Singh Puri

Following is a list of Indian Embassy and Consulates in China:

While a permanent diplomatic mission is typically known as an embassy, a consulate is similar to (but not the same as) a diplomatic office, but with focus on dealing with individual persons and businesses.  An embassy or consulate protects, in the receiving State, the interests of the sending State, and of its nationals, within the limits allowed by international law.  India has a relatively large diplomatic network with the world and particularly in neighboring regions. 
It is very unlikely you’ll need to contact your embassy for a medical emergency. However, it’s good to have the contact details.

Following are contact details of Indian embassy/consulates in china:

  • India Consulate , China
    16-D United Centre, 95, Queensway
    Hong Kong
    Phone: (852) 2528 4028, 2527 2275
    Fax: (852) 2866 4124
    Website URL:

  • India Consulate , China
    1008, Shanghai International, Trade Centre, 2201 Yan An Xi Lu
    Shanghai, China – 200336
    Phone: (86-21) 6275 8882, 5~6
    Fax: (86-21) 6275 8881
    Website URL:

  • India Embassy , China
    1 Ritan Dong Lu, Jianguomenwai
    Beijing, China – 100600
    Phone: 6532 1908, 6532 1856, 6532 1927
    Fax: 6532 4684
    Website URL:

Essential Facts

  • Chinese money is called Renminbi (RMB) means “The People’s Currency”. The popular unit of RMB is Yuan”  1 Chinese Yuan = 7.17987791 Indian rupees
  • China Standard Time is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+8).
  • Do not expect many English-speaking people in China.  While in some cities in China, one can find some English-speaking people, in other cannot speak beyond a few phrases in English. If one needs assistance from English-speaking people, one can ask help from a high school student or a businessperson.
  • Don’t overstay beyond your visa limits.  The penalty for your overstaying visa varies in different parts of the country. In some places you may have to pay INR 3,590 to -35,900 for overstaying while in other areas, you could be detained.
  • Don’t lose your receipts, such as train, bus tickets or hotel receipts, as these are your only proof that you paid for the service.
  • Don’t buy high end electronics.  The authentic brands are sold at much higher prices than pretty much anywhere else, as countries like United States or Japan, sell the same items for cheaper.
  • During National Day (October) and Spring Festival (Lunar New Year), plane and train tickets are difficult to get and anywhere that stays open plays host to colossal crowds at escalated prices.

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