Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Hopkins-Nanjing Center Student Band

Student blogger Sam Olson, Master of Arts in International Studies ’20, introduces the student band and discusses how it adds to the student experience and the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s mission.

 Band playing at the Mid -Autumn Festival barbeque
Outside of the classroom, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center hosts a variety of student groups that enrich student life, such as basketball, the dragon boat team, and moot court. Although maybe not as well-known as some of the other groups, one activity in particular that enhances the student experience and reinforces the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s cross-cultural environment is the student band.

To get a better picture of the student band, I talked with Sam Smith (MAIS ’19, Energy, Resources and the Environment) who has been a member of the band for the since last year. Sam said that at its core, the band is a way for Chinese and international students with a shared passion in music to come together to relax, build camaraderie, and have fun. Although some students bring their own instruments, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center provides some equipment as well, including a drum set, bass and electric guitars, keyboards, and microphones. Throughout the year, the band plays at student events, such as the Mid-Autumn Festival barbeque, Halloween Party, New Year’s Party, and end-of-year spring barbeque. In addition to events at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, the band sometimes volunteers to play at local clubs in Nanjing. Once, Sam said the band even got an invitation to play in Shanghai!
 

Aside from providing entertainment for the community and around Nanjing, the band also facilitates cross-cultural interaction in several ways. For instance, the band strives to have a strong representation of Chinese and international students and provides groups the opportunity to play in front of crowds and teach each other how to play a variety of instruments. The band also integrates this into the music they play. “We want our sound to be as unique as the Hopkins-Nanjing Center,” Sam emphasized in our talk. One avenue that he is exploring to further this goal is by incorporating more Chinese instruments into performances, as well as experimenting with using traditional Chinese instruments to play popular Western songs, and vice versa.

Overall, the band is an important avenue for cross-cultural engagement outside of the classroom. I encourage all students to join a student group or activity during their time in Nanjing. It not only provides a break from studying, but also is an unparalleled opportunity to engage with the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s bilingual, multicultural community. One of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s strengths is that its unique environment takes what would be an ordinary group at any other institution and transforms it into an opportunity for cross-cultural learning and enrichment.

Written by Samuel Olson, Master of Arts in International Studies ’20



Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Comparing the Master of Arts in International Studies and the HNC Certificate + Johns Hopkins SAIS MA

We hear from many students that they are debating between applying for the Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) or the HNC Certificate + Johns Hopkins SAIS MA. Both will prepare you for the next steps in your career, but there are significant differences in the study experience. Below, we have outlined the strengths of both options and we hope that this helps guide you in determining which program is the best fit for you.

Master of Arts in International Studies
The MAIS program is a great option for students who want to bring their Chinese language skills to an advanced professional level, develop strong research skills, and go into depth in one particular research area. Students spend two years at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, and this program is the only master’s degree accredited in both China and the United States.

Coursework and thesis component
Students declare a concentration from one of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s areas of study (Chinese studies; international politics, comparative and international law; energy, resources and the environment; and international economics). At the end of the program, students research, write, and defend a 15,000 minimum character thesis in Chinese that relates to their concentration area. Former students have written their theses on a variety of topics –from Chinese soft power in Africa to women’s rights in China. While writing a master’s thesis in Chinese may sound daunting, there is a lot of support at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center to guide you through that process. Part of the coursework includes classes designed to prepare you for the thesis process. Additionally, one of the unique benefits of the program is that you get the opportunity to work one-on-one with a Chinese faculty thesis advisor, who will help guide your research. For more information about the MAIS thesis writing process, please click here to hear from a current student.

Chinese proficiency 
The MAIS program requires a higher level of Chinese proficiency than the Certificate program. The recommended score on the Chinese proficiency test is 1300 for the MAIS program, compared to 1200 for the Certificate program. In addition to completing the thesis component, you are also required to take at least 9 courses taught in Chinese over the course of the two-year program.

Employment Outcomes
Completing the MAIS program and the thesis component provides you with concrete proof of your advanced Chinese ability and research skills. Not only can you write and articulate complex issues in international relations and China studies, you can demonstrate to prospective employers that you can also do it in Chinese. One common misconception about the MAIS program is that it only prepares you for a career in China. MAIS alumni aren’t limited to staying in China, and there are a number of alumni who have gone on to work for the US Department of State or other government agencies. In our employment outcomes, there is a lot of overlap between all programs for the different sectors represented. The bottom line is that completing one program over another isn’t going to limit your career path.

HNC Certificate + Johns Hopkins SAIS MA
The Certificate + MA provides students with the opportunity to complete the one-year Certificate program in Nanjing and then complete the Johns Hopkins SAIS MA in two to three semesters in Washington, DC (students interested in continuing their studies at the Johns Hopkins SAIS campus in Bologna should contact nanjing@jhu.edu before applying). This allows students to gain professional Chinese language skills while gaining a strong background in international economics and quantitative reasoning. 

Certificate coursework and Chinese proficiency
Students begin their studies in the one-year Certificate program. The Certificate offers flexible course selection that allows students to improve their Chinese and deepen their knowledge of international relations and Sino-global relations. Students must complete at least six courses taught in Chinese. Most students take three courses taught in Chinese and one course taught in English each semester. All applicants are required to take the Chinese proficiency test as part of their application, with a minimum recommended score of 1200.

MA Coursework and capstone component 
After completing the Certificate program in Nanjing, students begin the Johns Hopkins SAIS MA program and pursue one concentration out of the 19 concentration areas, which are divided into either an international policy area (for example, American foreign policy; conflict management; energy, resources and environment, etc.) or a regional area (China studies, Latin American studies, etc.) available at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Please click here to view a complete list of concentrations. As part of their concentration, students complete what is called a capstone at the end of the MA program. Capstones vary by concentration and can take the form of an oral exam, a written exam, a practicum, or a research project.

Once students begin the Johns Hopkins SAIS MA program, the coursework is taught in English. You can continue your language studies by taking language courses in Chinese or a new language, but you will have met the Johns Hopkins SAIS foreign language proficiency requirement by completing the Certificate program.

International economics foundation
In addition to the concentration in a policy area or regional area, students also complete a concentration in international economics. This requires all students to complete four core economics courses and a quantitative reasoning course to ensure that all students graduate with a strong economics foundation. Applicants must fulfill prerequisite courses in introduction to microeconomics and macroeconomics prior to matriculating to the DC campus. This means that you can fulfill these requirements while you are at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, or over the summer, by enrolling in an online course offered by Johns Hopkins SAIS, or by taking these courses in Nanjing or from any other accredited institution. While many applicants have some prior economics background, there are also students who come to Johns Hopkins SAIS to gain an economics background as they recognize that it is essential to understanding issues of international relations.

Employment Outcomes
With the combination of a background in Chinese language and economics, the Certificate + MA prepares students to enter the global workforce. Additionally, most students are able to gain professional experience by interning while they are in Washington, DC. As mentioned above, there is a lot of overlap between all programs for the different sectors represented in our employment outcomes. However, many alumni of the Certificate + MA end up working for the government, think tanks, or the private sector after spending time in Washington and gaining a background in international economics.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

How do I prepare for the Chinese Proficiency (STAMP) Test?

For most students, the first step to applying to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center is to take the Avant Assessment’s STAMP Chinese Proficiency Test. The test is required for admission and it can help gauge which program is the best fit for you.

Preparing for the proficiency test
We often have applicants ask the admissions team how they can prepare for the Chinese proficiency test. The truth is that there is no formal study guide or textbook to help you prepare. The proficiency test is a content-based test that covers diverse topics and subject matter. It tests your ability to understand main ideas from written Chinese passages and audio recordings. This content-based test is reflective of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s content-language coursework in that you are tested on your comprehension, rather than your ability to identify specific vocabulary words or grammar points.

The test questions are multiple-choice for both the listening and reading sections. There is a practice test available, but it’s designed for you to get a feel for the test structure rather than the difficulty of the test. The actual test will be more challenging. For example, you might read a section of a Chinese contract or listen to a segment of a real Chinese radio broadcast. The proficiency test is designed to challenge you and push you to the limit of your language ability. It’s an adaptive test, which means as you answer questions correctly, the questions get more and more difficult. Even if you don’t know the answer to a particular question, try your best to answer each question to the best of your ability.

There are, of course, still things that you can do in preparation to take the test. Regularly reading Chinese news articles can be a great way to practice your reading comprehension skills. To improve your listening skills, listening to Chinese news broadcasts and podcasts, or even watching Chinese TV shows, can help you get used to hearing native speakers talk at a natural pace. Another tip is to listen to something in Chinese right before the test, so you are already used to listening to Chinese before you begin.

How to take the proficiency test 
You can take the test any time before our February 1 admissions deadline, but we generally recommend taking the test when you first begin your application. Keep in mind that you can only take the test once every three months. When you are ready, submit the test request form and submit the test payment ($15 for in-person proctoring; $30 for virtual proctoring). In-person proctoring requires you to find a test proctor to supervise the test. Virtual proctoring provides you with an alternative should you not be able to find a test proctor. For more information about requesting the test and proctoring, visit our website.

Getting your results
Within two business days, the admissions office will notify you of your test results. For students applying to the Certificate program (including the Certificate + MA), the recommended score is 1200. For students applying to the Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS), the recommended score is 1300. We will provide you with a breakdown of your score and let you know which programs you are eligible for. If you score lower than our recommended scores, we will also let you know if we advise you to continue your Chinese language studies throughout the year and over the summer.

As you prepare to take the Chinese proficiency test, reach out to the admissions office at nanjing@jhu.edu if you have any questions.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Faculty Office Hours at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center


Student Blogger Tarela Osuobeni, Certificate ’17, SAIS MA ’19, shares her experiences taking advantage of faculty office hours at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

“请进, 请进 (please come in)!” My professor enthusiastically welcomed me through the doors of her office. Today I had come to discuss ideas for my paper on death penalty law for my Chinese Constitution course. I wanted to know her thoughts on the law’s relationship to the Chinese Constitution and Chinese history more broadly. She directed me to a chair across from her and began to ask me questions about my project. She patiently listened to my reasoning as I explained my paper’s argument. When I stumbled over a few Chinese words, she was quick to rephrase my meaning in a way that made sense. During the hour that we spent together, her advice and encouragement sharpened my thesis and gave me the confidence to complete the paper.

At the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, I valued faculty office hours because it was an opportunity to understand more about concepts we studied in class. I initially attended office hours with the intention of introducing myself to my professors, but I ended up frequently visiting throughout the year to ask broader questions about China. During the 30 minute to 1 hour meetings, I was able to practice my Chinese and hone in on international relations-related Chinese vocabulary. While professors accommodated to my Chinese-language level, they also challenged me to understand complex concepts in Chinese.

The discussions I had during office hours strengthened my understanding of China more broadly and helped me establish relationships with my professors. During office hours, my Chinese politics professor prepared me for in-class presentation topics by showing me how to use Chinese state-media to examine issues of politics and economic growth in China. Since she had completed her PhD in the United States, she also asked me about my career aspirations and recommended different options of further study in the United States. My international law professor and I often analyzed and discussed Chinese-language versions of different international treaties. Our discussions illuminated the nuances behind legal translations. My professor for my courses on Southeast Asian politics and foreign policy taught me about China’s approach to alliances during office hours. He explained China’s approach to the international community, and asked me questions about the U.S. alliance experience. These conversations were insightful. They often supplemented what I was learning in class which made for a more enjoyable learning experience.

At the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, go to office hours! You learn a lot more about China from professors with tangible experiences and insightful ideas!

Written by Tarela Osuobeni, HNC Certificate’17, SAIS MA’19

Friday, October 19, 2018

Golden Week: Exploring Nanjing

During the first week of October, China celebrates National Day with a week-long vacation commonly referred to as ‘Golden Week’. Since it occurs at the beginning of the semester, Golden Week is a great opportunity for students to travel, explore, and make friends with other students at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

This year during Golden Week, lots of students traveled to new cities, took short trips to Shanghai and Suzhou, or went to visit old friends in other parts of China. I decided to stay in Nanjing and get to know the city a little better.




Nanjing has a long history, and served as the capital at different points in Chinese history. There are numerous museums and historical activities around the city. Different groups of students went to Purple Mountain to see Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum, to the old Presidential Palace, and to the Nanjing Museum.

In an effort to escape the infamous Golden Week crowds, it was fun to explore some of the less touristy areas of Nanjing. The co-directors and other staff at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center encouraged students to go for walks around the center to see the city’s different neighborhoods. One neighborhood, the Xuanwu Lake area, has a beautiful park and is just a short walk from campus. Although we’d been there before, Golden Week was a great time to go because everyone was out enjoying the last few weeks of summer weather with their friends and family.


Several of us also took advantage of the sales at some local shops during Golden Week. We went to a tea shop in the art district of Nanjing and enjoyed different types of tea and small snacks. After learning about the different teas, we each had the opportunity to make and serve the tea ourselves. Although it was unexpectedly difficult, it was great to learn together!


Of course, as Golden Week came to an end, classes picked up again and the weather began to get colder. As we get busier, it was great to have a week off during the beginning of the semester to spend getting to know the people at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and Nanjing!

Written by Hope Parker, Master of Arts in International Studies ’20

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wordless Wednesdays: Around Nanjing

For this week’s Wordless Wednesday, student blogger Cady Deck, Certificate ’19, shares photos of daily life around Nanjing. 











Photos by Cady Deck, Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate ’19

Friday, October 12, 2018

Meet the 2018-2019 Student Bloggers in Nanjing

Meet our new student bloggers in Nanjing! Sam Olson, Master of Arts in International Studies ’20, Cady Deck, Certificate ’19, and Hope Parker, Master of Arts in International Studies ’20, will be sharing their experiences studying and living at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center throughout the year.


Sam Olson, Master of Arts in International Studies ’20 (left) 

Hi everyone! My name is Sam Olson, and I am a first-year master’s student at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center double-concentrating in international politics and Chinese studies.  I graduated from Brock University in Ontario, Canada, where I majored in tourism and environment. I started learning Chinese in middle school and knew from early on that I wanted to pursue a major and career that allowed me to work with China in some way.

I first heard about the Hopkins-Nanjing Center when I attended the Middlebury College Summer Language School. There were several aspects that drew me to apply for the master’s program. First, the degree is jointly granted by both a top-tier American and top-tier Chinese university. Second, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center offers the opportunity to study about China in the country itself, which provides key insights that are hard to replicate when studying about China from a school located outside of China. Finally, studying in Nanjing provides the opportunity for international and Chinese students to live and work together. This unique environment not only increases cross-cultural understanding and learning, but also gives international students the chance to ask their Chinese classmates about their perspectives and experiences on what is taught in the classroom, and vice versa. For example, this semester I am taking a class called Social Issues of China’s Modernization, where we’ve been focusing on topics such as the hukou system and Reform and Opening Up.  I’ve had the opportunity to discuss these topics with my roommate and hear his experience with both issues. Having the opportunity to discuss such issues has broadened my understanding of the course material and given me insights that would be difficult to obtain elsewhere. 

The mission and the caliber of the alumni the Hopkins-Nanjing Center produces deeply inspires me, and I believe that this is truly a place worth sharing with the world. Working with the admissions office this year, I am excited to give you a glimpse of all the unique and amazing aspects! In addition, I hope to provide guidance and insightful tips as you navigate the application process.  Good luck, and I hope to see you at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center next year!

Cady Deck, Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate 19

Hello! My name is Cady Deck and I am a Certificate student at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. I graduated from The George Washington University (GW) last May with a double major in international affairs and political science and a minor in Chinese. I also studied abroad in Beijing, Kunming, and Taiwan. I learned about the Hopkins-Nanjing Center when an admissions representative came to GW last November and immediately knew I had to apply!

This semester I am taking three classes taught in Chinese and one class taught in English. One unique class I am taking this semester is called Chinese and American Thought: Bilingual Perspectives. Half of the students are Chinese and the other half are international students, which has already led to some interesting cultural and intellectual exchanges on a variety of topics as we examine and discuss primary texts in the Western and Chinese cannons in Chinese and English. I do not think I would have the opportunity to take a class like this anywhere else! Additionally, in any US institution I can sit in a library reading about China or take a course about China, but at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center I can discuss the lingering effects of the one child policy in Chinese with people inside China. Of course, I will also spend a fair amount of time in the library as well.

Even though it has only been a few weeks, like many students here, I am already involved in several extracurriculars, including basketball and volunteer teaching. One of the great things about the Hopkins-Nanjing Center is that students are encouraged to venture off campus to engage with the community, whether that be informally, like on the Nanjing University basketball courts, or formally, like teaching English at a local elementary school.

I am excited to blog about my experiences this semester and offer insights into what makes the Hopkins-Nanjing Center such a great place! I look forward to helping prospective students throughout the application process.

Hope Parker, Master of Arts in International Studies 20

Hi all! My name is Hope Parker and I am a first-year student in the Master of Arts in International Studies program at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. I am from the San Francisco Bay area, but I went to Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where I studied international relations, political science, and Chinese language and culture. Studying abroad in Beijing inspired me to continue studying Chinese and Chinese politics.

I first heard about the Hopkins-Nanjing Center while in Beijing as a junior at Wellesley College. I was excited by the opportunity to learn more about China in Chinese and from Chinese professors. In the first few weeks of classes I have already noticed unique opportunities that the Hopkins-Nanjing Center offers. Chinese and International students working and studying together requires us to engage in tough conversations and think critically about each other’s perspectives.

This semester I am taking four courses: International Political Economy, International Relations of East Asia, Transboundary Challenges to Law, and the Master’s Tutorial Course, which helps master’s students prepare for their theses. These courses have given me the chance to hear different perspectives on issues, which I would not have heard or understood in the United States. Additionally, even though the Hopkins-Nanjing Center is not a law school, students have the opportunity to participate in several different moot court teams and compete in China and abroad. This year, I am on the Jessup moot court team, which focuses on international law.

I am excited to help represent the Hopkins-Nanjing Center through the admissions office this year. Before arriving, I knew that it was a unique program. After being here, I am looking forward to helping prospective students understand the opportunities that they could have at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

From the Admissions Team: Tips for Applying to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center

As application season gets underway, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center admissions team has compiled our top tips to keep in mind as you start your application. We hope that these tips will help guide you through the application process. 

Tip #1: Write a personal statement that clearly addresses your individual academic and career goals and connects them to studying at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. It’s not called a “personal” statement for nothing!
  • Don’t waste this opportunity to tell admissions officers about your interests and career goals by rehashing your resume. Even if you don’t necessarily have a five- year plan, we are looking to see that you have thought out how you see the Hopkins-Nanjing Center as an essential piece of your future plans. In the past, we had one applicant write about lessons learned from playing ping pong with a Chinese classmate. Another applicant wrote about her experience at a Chinese rural hospital. We encourage you to get creative! 
  • Be sure to write your essay entirely in English, as everyone reviewing your application may not have Chinese proficiency. Chinese characters also often do not display correctly on our application system. If there’s a Chinese phrase that you want to reference, write in pinyin and include the English translation. 
  • You can also use the personal statement as an opportunity to address anything in your application that you might be concerned about. For example, if you scored lower than our recommended score on the Chinese proficiency test, let the admissions committee know about your plans to improve your Chinese. If you received lower grades during one semester, consider letting the committee know the reasons why and how you improved. 

Tip #2: Do your research and pay attention to the small details
  • Admissions officers like to see that you have taken the time to become familiar with the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and can articulate how you see yourself and your career goals fitting into our specific programs when writing your statement of purpose. 
  • When writing your essays, be sure to use the correct titles and names for professors, “Hopkins-Nanjing Center,” and “Johns Hopkins SAIS.” While using the incorrect title won’t be the deciding factor in your application, it will reflect your attention to detail to the admissions committee. It’s better to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and researched the institution ahead of time. 

Tip #3: There are more funding opportunities than you think, and external scholarship deadlines may fall before the program application deadline.

Tip #4: Consider completing an admissions interview
  • This year the admissions team is offering optional interviews, conducted in English, as part of the application process. Completing an interview is not required, but it is a good opportunity to let the admissions committee learn who you are beyond your test scores, transcript, and resume. Schedule an in-person or Skype interview by emailing nanjing@jhu.edu.  
  • If you aren’t able to complete an interview, don’t worry! The interviews are optional and it won’t negatively impact your application if you don’t have one. If you have a non-traditional background (for example you’ve never studied Chinese formally or were pursuing a different study/career track), an interview can be a great way to provide additional context to why you are the right fit for the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. 

Tip #5: Go for quality over quantity for your letters of recommendation.
  • You can submit 2-3 letters of recommendation with your application. Only submit a third letter of recommendation if it’s going to provide a new perspective from the other two. A good letter of recommendation should come from a professor, adviser, or work supervisor who knows you well and can speak to your specific strengths. Please note that letters of recommendation are required to be submitted in English. 
  • Be sure to ask your recommender for your letter well in advance of the application deadline. Since many graduate programs share similar deadlines, chances are that you will not be the only student asking your professor for a recommendation. 

Tip #6:  Submit a polished resume.
  • Limit your resume to one page and include specific experience and be personalized for your skills and your experience. 
  • The look and feel of a resume is important. It can make a difference to standardize the formatting and spacing on your resume.  

Tip #7:  If you want to know your admissions decision and financial aid package by the end of December, apply for early notification.
  • If you submit all of your application materials and financial aid application by November 1, you will receive your admissions decision and scholarship information by the end of December. This is does not mean you need to commit at that time – you have until April to confirm your enrollment.  

Tip #8: Proofread, proofread, proofread!
  • The last thing you want is for an admissions officer to have a negative impression on an otherwise great application because of a grammar mistake. It’s always great to have a second pair of eyes (or third or fourth!) on your application. Ask a friend, professor, or colleague to look over your application. 


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Meet Tarela Osuobeni: Student Blogger in DC

Tarela spent a year at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center from 2016 to 2017 and is currently at Johns Hopkins SAIS to complete her Masters of Arts with a concentration in China studies. 

Tarela and her roommate after the HNC graduation ceremony
欢迎你们来到中美中心的博客!  I am excited to share my experiences with you as a Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) certificate graduate and candidate for the Johns Hopkins University SAIS MA. 

My Background: I was born in Nigeria and grew up in Columbus, Ohio. My interest in China began during undergrad at Duke University, where I studied political science and Chinese. During my time at Duke, I studied abroad in Beijing, Kunshan, and Suzhou. My China experiences challenged me to step out of my comfort zone linguistically and culturally. I loved my time abroad and wanted to return after graduation. The Hopkins-Nanjing Center certificate program was perfect because it catered to my academic interests (international relations and Chinese) and adventurous personality. I chose to come to DC for the SAIS MA program because I wanted to round out my experience in China by gaining additional quantitative skills needed for my desired career in political risk analysis geared toward East Asia.

My Hopkins-Nanjing Center Academic Experience:  By spending time at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, my ideas about how China sees itself in foreign relations, the global economy, and as a global problem-solver became more robust and holistic. I took courses such as国际法 (international law) where I was challenged to understand the South China Sea, international law, and international cases from China’s perspective. I was humbled by new insights on China’s relations with the rest of the world and was encouraged to step out of my personal experiences to view world events from a nuanced perspective.

Hopkins-Nanjing Center Highlights:  A few months ago, I met up with my Chinese roommate in New York.  During our conversation, we recalled our experiences in Nanjing over a bowl of hot, spicy noodles. In Chinese and English, we talked about the time we went to a Chinese rock concert and the scrumptious dinners we enjoyed at the one Indian place on Nanjing Road. I remembered being at her side when we cheered the basketball team to victories and reporting on the trip I took with other students to the China-Myanmar border. We talked about our friends who had started various student groups, such as the multicultural group, the dance group, the lacrosse interest groups, and many more. She told me about her recent hiking trip with other Hopkins-Nanjing Center alumni to the mountains in the state of Washington. I wasn’t surprised that students still kept in touch! As our conversation ended, I knew that our friendship would last us a lifetime because we had bonded over such unique adventures.


The Journey Continues: My journey continues as I complete the SAIS MA. While I am here, I am excited to share my experiences with you. Stay tuned for future posts on alumni, student experiences, and the transition from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center program to the SAIS MA program! 谢谢大家!

Written By Tarela Osuobeni, HNC Certificate’17/SAIS MA’19

Friday, September 21, 2018

Using Mobile Payments in China

Student blogger Amanda Bogan, MAIS ’18, shares an overview on how mobile payments have changed daily life in China. 

As anyone who has visited China in the past few years knows, mobile payment platforms such as Wechat Money ( 微信钱 ) and Alipay ( 支付宝 ) have dramatically altered payment methods and almost entirely eliminated the need to carry around cash in most parts of China. Though I was somewhat skeptical before I started using mobile payment platforms myself, I now use them every day for most of my regular purchases in Nanjing. Making mobile payments is easy, convenient, and can simplify and expedite a variety of regular transactions, such as buying lunch from local street vendors, making online purchases, or paying back a friend. While most places still accept cash, its use is becoming less and less common and storekeepers will sometimes prefer that customers pay using mobile payments, or will not be able to make change for customers paying with large bills. Below, I’ll go through the basic steps for setting up an account and some perks of using mobile payments.

Different Mobile Payment Platforms
There are two major providers for mobile payments in China: Alipay and WeChat Money, run by Chinese fintech giants Alibaba and Tencent, respectively. Almost all stores and vendors will accept both of these two payment methods, so it is possible to use only one of the two platforms and get by just fine. However, a notable exception is certain online stores and vendors. For example, JD Mall's largest shareholder is Tencent, and therefore only accepts payments via WeChat, whereas JD's top competitor, Taobao, is part of the Alibaba group, and only accepts Alipay. Personally, I only used WeChat for my first year in Nanjing, but eventually set up an Alipay account as well so I could also make purchases on Taobao.

Setting up a mobile payment account
Both Wechat and Alipay now allow registration using international bank cards, however there are some limitations on the kinds of cards that will be accepted, and you may accumulate some fees associated with converting currencies. Generally speaking, most students will set up a Chinese bank account for their time in Nanjing. (ICBC, Bank of China, and China Construction Bank all have branches located near the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.) When setting up a bank account, it is best to confirm with the bank that your account can support mobile payments. Once you have opened an account, linking your account to WeChat or Alipay is fairly simple—both apps have English versions and will walk you through setting up your account. For Alipay you simply download the app and then you will be prompted to enter the necessary personal information (such as your bank account and passport number). To link your account for using WeChat Money, start by opening up WeChat, clicking on the “Me” icon at the bottom of the screen, then select “wallet,” and then select “cards” from the top menu and fill in the necessary information.

Perks to making mobile payments
Besides the obvious perk of never needing to count your change and being able to leave your wallet at home, due to competition between the different mobile payment platforms, there are often special discounts given to users. For example, last week when I took my roommate out for dinner, the restaurant we went to offered a 15% discount if I paid using Alipay. When making regular purchases via WeChat Money or Alipay there will often be a small automatic discount taken at the time of purchases, generally ranging from a few cents to a couple kuai.

There are also popular apps such as 大众点评 and 美团  that will offer specials for local restaurants and other stores, providing you pay using WeChat or Alipay.

Most of what I know about mobile payments and buying things in China I learned from my roommate and other Chinese friends. If you have questions while getting started with mobile payments or online purchases, most Chinese student will be knowledgeable and willing to help!

Written by Amanda Bogan, MAIS ‘18

Please note recommendations on using mobile payment apps and on the specific apps mentioned above are the student’s own. The Hopkins-Nanjing Center does not endorse specific mobile payment apps.