Chinese 留学

Japanese women with zero Chinese skills studies the language in Beijing, China (1)


Japanese women with zero Chinese skills studies in Beijing, China (1)

Konnichiwa! I'm Mami, a trilingual girl in Japanese, English and Chinese.


I will write about why I quit my job at the end of my twenties to study in China, how I obtained HSK level 6 in my two years, and my life in China.

For working people who want to study abroad after quitting their jobs, studying in China is a big investment in terms of time and money.


Therefore, I hope that this article will be useful information for readers who are considering studying in China.

First of All (Before going to China)

Japanese women with zero Chinese skills studies in Beijing, China (1)

In my 20s, after Graduating from Tokyo University of Foreign studies, I tried to improve my English skills by working as an English teacher & English-Japanese translator.

In order to become an interpreter who does not depend on organizations and can earn a certain amount of money, I spent my days attending an interpreting school on weekdays and studying languages on weekends.

On the surface, I seemed to be a serious and highly motivated worker, but inside, I was very tired of my life only full of  English.


First, I was struggling to raise money for studying English.

In addition to the tuition fee of the interpretation school, the cost of learning English, including daily English conversation via Skype, is ※60,000 to 70,000 yen per month. ※about 600 - 700 dollars

Whenever I had other unexpected expenses, I had to borrow money from my mother, who was sarcastic about it.


Secondly, I didn't have  mental space.

There are a lot of Japanese people who are better at English than me.

Many of my peers at the university also had English skills that surpassed me.

Thinking "If I want to compete with such people in English, I have to beat them by the amount of study!", I could not turn my attention to anything other than English.

I didn't go out with my friends, didn't travel, didn't enjoy other entertainment...

I studied English day after day.

It was very hard to breathe.

Even though I believe that one day I would be rewarded, I worried about what I would do if I am not rewarded.

I wasn't sure if I was studying because I loved English and wanted to be an interpreter, or if I was just trying to counteract my anxiety by studying.


At the same time, I was involved in harassment at my company and found it difficult to stay at work.


I didn't have the skills and experiences to change jobs, and I didn't have a place to stay in my workplace.

Suddenly my life got stuck.

Why did I study in China?

Japanese women with zero Chinese skills studies in Beijing, China (1)

I'm sure there are many readers who are wondering "why study in China?"

In fact, whether my life got stuck or not, there were probably not many Japanese who were positive about studying in China in 2014, the year I decided to study there.


Territorial issues and air pollution were often reported in the news, and the sentiment toward China is basically negative.

According to the Nikkei Newspaper in September of the same year, the total of 93.0% of Japanese answered that their impressions of China were 'not good' or 'rather not good,' which was the worst since the survey began in 2005.

When I told my workplace that I was resigning, my HR department begged me to tell them the real reason I was leaving.


The reason why I decided to study in China can only be described as fate.

Perhaps out of pity for my life being bogged down, my father-in-law suddenly suggested I study in China.

Before he retired, he had been in charge of finance at one of major electrical equipment manufacturers and had felt the rise of the Chinese economy firsthand.

Therefore, he thought Chinese skills could be my strong point in the future.


I had no choice at that time.

In order to carve out a new life , I decided to spend the last days of my twenties studying in China.

Why did I decide to enter Tsinghua University, Beijing?

With a population 10 times the size of Japan (1.4 billion as of 2019) and 56 ethnic groups, China has an official language based on Mandarin (the dialect spoken in Beijing), which makes studying in Beijing the best way to learn a common language.

In China, universities are the main destinations for international students like me, who aim to learn Chinese (common language), so Japanese students who study in Beijing mainly belong to one of the following three universities.

  • Beijing Language and Culture University

Japanese women with zero Chinese skills studies in Beijing, China (1)

This university specializes in language learning and there are more international students than Chinese students.

Ninety percent of the working students (company-sponsored students) I met belonged to this university.

  • Beijing University

Japanese women with zero Chinese skills studies in Beijing, China (1)

China's top university.

It is a little far from Wudaokou (五道口) Station, where Beijing Language and Culture University and Tsinghua University are located, but it has an overwhelming name value.

  • Tsinghua University

Japanese women with zero Chinese skills studies in Beijing, China (1)

It is one of the top universities in China, although it is slightly less well known than Peking University in Japan.

It is also the alma mater of the current president of the country, Xi Jinping.


There are two reasons why I enrolled in Tsinghua University.

  1. There is no requirement of Chinese level at the time of admission (zero Chinese ability is acceptable)
  2. Many Chinese university students (more suitable for Chinese learning environment)

As for "1. there is no question of Chinese level at the time of admission (even if you have no Chinese ability)."

In 2014, Peking University was only accepting foreign students who met a certain level of Chinese, so I was not eligible for admission.


The next is "2. Many Chinese university students (more suitable for Chinese learning environment)".

I decided to enter Tsinghua University because the university, with its large number of Chinese students, would be a better place to learn a language than Beijing Language and Culture University, which has many foreign students.

Lastly, but not least

Japanese women with zero Chinese skills studies in Beijing, China (1)

During my two years of study at Tsinghua University, I had many opportunities to meet Japanese students from Peking Language and Culture University and Peking University.

As it turned out, no two universities are much different when it comes to language study.

Rather than school, the teachers & classmates that you don't choose are pretty important.


You have to leave this to fate or luck on this point.

However, whoever teachers & classmates are, you need to be able to focus on your study.


By the way, I'm personally very grateful to Tsinghua University for giving me a chance to meet my future husband.

After all, it's all about fate or luck.


I'd love it if you could follow me on Twitter.


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Mami@Trilingual in JP, EN and CH

中国語キャリア模索中のアラサー駆け出し日英通訳者。超論理思考の夫に日々脳トレしてもらう、非キラキラ系コンサル妻。2020年4月第1子出産。 Fledgling English-Japanese interpreter, seeking for Chinese career as +α. At the same time, wife who has a consultant husband with ultra-logical thinking. And mother who gave birth in April 2020.

-Chinese, 留学

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