Bilder zum Bericht

Beijing Normal University

Summer Palace

Forbidden City

Jingshan Park

Great Wall at Jinshanling


zur Übersicht




Austausch - OUT


14/15 WS


Beijing - Beijing Normal University


Volkswirtschaftslehre (3020)



Overall, I had a very positive impression of my exchange semester at the Beijing Normal University. Especially, staying at a Chinese host family was an experience that made my exchange semester culturally very rich and which allowed me to directly participate in Chinese social life. Further, the opportunity to explore China made the semester unforgettable.


I decided not to stay in the campus dormitories but to live together with Chinese people. There are many programs/agents which help foreigners to find a place in a Chinese family. I used B.E.I.T. which turned out to work fine for me.

It is worth to organize the visa, and to carefully plan potential travels well ahead of the travel. Usually, for exchange students, the Chinese embassy issues visa which allow only one entry into the country. If you are interested to go to Lhasa (Tibet), there are special requirements, including applying for a special visa. Everyone who was there confirmed to me that the picturesque town is more than worth the procedure.

The same is true for the credit transfer agreement. The earlier you are, the better you can choose the classes which will be accepted for your curriculum.


The evening before I arrived in Beijing I first was able to talk to my new host family. The day of arrival I met the agent who gave me a crash course on Chinese culture and led me to the family. The same evening we went out for dinner together. From then on, I stayed at their place. Arriving some days before the studies start can give time to get accustomed to Beijing, organize the usual things (mobile phone, public transport card etc.) or meet other early arrivers.


My accommodation was part of the education and homestay deal in B.E.I.T. It includes letting me stay for free at the family and have two free meals a day (the agent was relatively expensive though). In return, I would spend time with them and their son and speak English. Like this, they could improve their English and their cultural knowledge of Switzerland. I was lucky with my host family, and the exchange turned out to be very friendly and fruitful for both sides. What was priceless were the evenings where my host father took me out to eat and drink with his friends. Those are occasions to learn a lot about Chinese culture.

Hearing of one other example I am aware that I was lucky with my host family. Of course, it is a risk to take. On the other hand, families who let strangers into their homes have to be open and trusting. Otherwise, they wouldn’t do it. Also, having a back-up plan can help to reduce anxiety.


At Beijing Normal University, I participated in the MBA-Program “World Economy and China”. As opposed to the UZH, the focus in the program lay on participation, group works and constant assignments. In general, the classes were formally less challenging than those at the UZH. I took the following classes:

Macroeconomics: An introduction to macroeconomics on an intermediate level. Although not as formally challenging as the core program in economics at the UZH the course was very insightful and can be a welcome completion to an internationally-oriented economics curriculum. Prof. Yang managed to make to class as interactive as possible. Weekly homework assignments, mostly solving exercises from the book. 3 BNU-credits, accepted for credit transfer to VWL 1.

Global Economic Issues and Policies: Second class with Prof. Yang. Very interactive, with a lot of required presentations. The classes had a focus on international trade and international finance, including themes like free trade vs. protectionism, globalization, trade unions, trade deficits, the Eurozone or financial crises. Each subject has been discussed in the basis of relevant research articles. This was one of the better classes in my opinion. Weekly homework assignments, mostly preparing presentations on topics from the reader, based on the articles. 2 BNU-credits, accepted for credit transfer to VWL 1.

Development Economics: An introduction to Development Economics. The style of the lecture was not very interactive, comparable to a lecture at the UZH. The course material, on the other hand, proved to be very interesting. No weekly assignments, but a presentation and a term paper to be completed in the second half of the semester. 2 BNU-credits, accepted for credit transfer to VWL 1.

International Business and China: Interactive class with focus on international business. Besides covering the theory and giving examples for China, the professor managed to engage the students in lively discussions. Informal weekly assignments. 3 BNU-credits, “possible to accept” for credit transfer to BWL 5.

Cross-cultural exchange and management: Personally my favorite class. The class was mostly about cross-cultural case studies and theory, with a professor who made the class interactive and could provide a lot of practical examples. The class was fairly intensive with a case study and a presentation to prepare each week. To compensate, it only lasted till the end of November. What made this class very interesting was the fact that we were forced to collaborate with a new group of people from all over the world every week. 2 BNU-credits, accepted for credit transfer to BWL 3.


In Beijing there are so many things to explore that one semester can seem very short. Some of my personal highlights include Summer Palace, the Forbidden City and, less known, the Jingshan Park just north of the Forbidden City whose hill allows a stunning view over the Forbidden City. Also, do not miss the trip to the Great Wall at Jinshanling, organized by the office for international exchange students. What can be recommended as well is visiting monuments in a smaller town in China where people do not speak English, few taxi drivers can read and where communication becomes more interesting. An adventure.

For going out in Beijing, Sanlitun can definitely be recommended. Note that many clubs have promoters whose job is to bring foreigners into the house, for promotion of the club. In return, those foreigners receive free drinks or free entry. Knowing the right promoters for each club can be beneficial. Usually, there are people among the exchange students who know some of them.

If I were to give advice I would suggest to go to China, be open und plunge into its exciting culture! If you have any questions or would like to have more detail on anything in my report please do not hesitate to contact me. I will be happy to tell you.

Last but not least, I would like to thank to everyone who helped to make this exchange semester possible, also to the University of Zurich for supporting my studies financially. I have benefited a lot from my time in Beijing: culturally, academically and personally.