Sponsored feature, words by Russ Thorne
China's economy is growing fast. More and more businesses are setting up international bases there, bringing many opportunities for students and graduates.

And although China is a long way from the UK (both geographically and culturally), making that leap into the unknown can help you reap some great rewards.

Get a head start

For a start, your experience of Chinese life and culture will instantly put you head and shoulders above many others in the world of international business.

International Students

Your day-to-day life will help you develop a knowledge of Mandarin, while you can also expect some insight into Chinese business practices and etiquette.

You’ll have the chance to build your personal network, or 'guanxi' – vital for getting ahead in the Chinese employment market. Going sooner rather than later will keep you ahead of the curve!

Start talking

Learning a language is a valuable skill, and there's no better way to do it than immersing yourself in a culture.

"The environment makes you want to try out what you have learned," says Sarah Jago, who spent time on a language summer programme with INTO China, a company that specialises in helping UK students study in China.

"Every morning I would order a coffee in Chinese. My mentors helped me the first few days and from then it just gets stuck in your mind so you feel confident to do it yourself."

Make your CV stand out

On-the-ground experience of a culture is big draw for international employers. "If interacting with overseas clients forms an integral part of a person’s job profile then it would definitely make that person more employable," says Sundeep Dawale, another graduate of the Chinese language summer programme.

The ability to learn and adapt to a new culture is another useful skill, he adds. Sarah agrees that going overseas can give potential employers more confidence in you.
Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China.

"It's made me more employable to organisations that wish to trust me in representing their organisation in a different cultural situation," she says. "They can have faith in the fact that I have lived and studied abroad therefore have experience in understanding various customs."

Enjoy your studies

The quality of teaching in many Chinese universities is very high, and when you combine it with the experience of living in some of the country's best cities, you can get a lot of enjoyment from your time in the classroom.

Sundeep studied at the Dongbei University of Finance and Economics in the city of Dalian. “The standard of teaching at the university was excellent,” he says.

Small class sizes (through programmes such as those offered by INTO China) and lots of contact time can also mean a more intimate, effective period of study, says Sarah.

"My teacher spoke little English and prompted us to use our workbook that was in both Chinese and English to communicate with her. I learned 10 times faster, because you work harder to communicate in Mandarin.

"The programme that I was on with INTO allowed me to be in a group of four, which meant our teaching was a lot more personalised."

Change your life

Studying overseas can also offer personal benefits on top of professional ones. You might even feel ready for more! "If I could I would do it all over again," says Sundeep. "It was a privilege to experience the great culture of China."

Robert Munro, a student advisor at INTO China, is pleased to see increasing numbers of students looking to China for study abroad opportunities because he knows first-hand how much they'll get out of it.
An example of student accommodation at a Chinese university.

"Speaking as someone who took the plunge and went to China, I can safely say it's the most life-changing and inspiring experience that I've had," he says.

"Having previously studied international relations and business, I found learning Mandarin Chinese hugely beneficial and it has provided me with a lifetime of job opportunities, which is something I may not have found if I had stayed in the UK."

So if you're looking to learn, challenge yourself and get ahead, China has a lot to offer. It was definitely a learning experience on many levels for Sarah. "I had the best time of my life in China," she says. "Living there really opened my mind."

More information

Explore undergraduate study in China

And find out more about INTO China on Facebook, Twitter and on its website.