*DISCLOSER: This is a review concerning the Qinhuangdao branch in Hebei, China.*
Interestingly, this campus has inherited of several installations meant for the Beijing Olympics (mostly gyms and a running track). Furthermore, the building meant for Humanities (English, Japanese and Chinese Second language departments as far as I know) is brand new. However, like most Chinese buildings, it is huge and sadly empty. However, unlike several other campuses, the facilities are comfortable and neat.
Due to the fact that we are the first foreigners that have been sent to this campus (due to an unmanageable and unexpected surplus at the Shenyang campus), the administration have rushed their decision and sent us here. Needless to say, the arrival has been really bumpy and messy. Furthermore, due to a certain lack of regulations (or acountability?) many administrators have used several lies in order to keep us compliant (such as not providing the 700 Y coverage for living outside the campus, keeping tight control over our ins and outs of the city, etc.) However, it is gradually becoming better.
Despite the fact that our teachers have been hired at the last minute (and some of them are not Chinese Second Language majors), they have done surprinsingly well. Within a semester, I have progressed from a HSK 3 level to a HSK 5 level (to be confirmed in two weeks). However, their teaching methods might be sometimes a bit misadapted for other cultures, but overall, most of the teachers are doing a great job.
The classes are based on Beijing Language and Culture University (发展汉语）. It is a standard textbook. Furthermore, some teachers are preparing powerpoints or learning exercises. Overall, this is suitable for a CSL class.
Due to the relative isolation of Hebei (especially compared to its big brother Beijing), most of the food is typically Chinese. However, I have been surprised by the number of restaurants around, especially some cuisines originating from the South (Sichuan, Guangdong) and the West (Lanzhou, Qinghai).
Value for Money:
As a CSC Scholarship student, I didnt have to pay for the tuition fees nor the accomodation, which is awesome. However, for self-supported students (they represent 2 students out of 10 in my class), the living cost of Hebei is really cheap, both for accommodation and living expenses. Furthermore, the speaking environment is awesome due to the fact that REAL standard Chinese is spoken here (with a bit of Dongbei, which is even cooler).
This is truly the best thing on this campus. Our dorm is brand new, with awesome showers and clean toilets (even for Western standards). Despite the fact that the beds are hard as rock (but not squeaky!), we have a fridge in every bedroom, cooking appliances and small kitchens. This is where this campus truly shines and makes everything rather cozy.
Notes: The foreign students community is very small (about 40-50 students and most of them are Vietnamese due to certain arrangements). Consequently, it is advised to have a certain grasp in Chinese, even for making friends among the foreign students.