International Chinese Studies Summer Program

4 weeks at Beijing Normal University in Zhuhai, China

BNUZ Summer Program

This four-week immersion program has been offered every summer since 2012 through the partnership between Saint Mary’s University and Beijing Normal University Zhuhai in Zhuhai, China. Since that time, close to 60 SMU students have taken part in the program and gained a valuable study experience in China. 

During the program, students take a set of three courses which focus on Chinese literature, culture, and contemporary affairs, and those courses are taught in English. Each participant will also be paired with a BNUZ student, and former participants commented that the friendship they formed with their BNUZ partner was one of the highlights of their program experience.

Please review all information in the sections below before completing your application.

The application deadline for the Summer 2018 program was February 20, 2018.
Applications for this program will reopen early in 2019. 

» Program Summary

Location: Beijing Normal University Zhuhai, Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province, China

Dates: May 13 to June 9 2018 (4 weeks)

Courses offered and credits (participants must take all three courses):

1. CHST1013 Chinese Language and Literature Part 1

  • This course will introduce Chinese poetry and literature to students. This course also provides an introduction to the Chinese language. Download syllabus (PDF)

  • Course instructor: Dr Charles Beaupre, Saint Mary's University

  • 3 credit hours

2. CHST2013 Chinese Characters and Chinese Culture

  • This course intends to help students appreciate cultural connotations and characteristics of Chinese history, customs, art and philosophy through an examination of the origin and formation of Chinese characters. Download syllabus (PDF)

  • Course instructor: Dr Cecilia Qiu, Beijing Normal University Zhuhai

  • 3 credit hours

3. CHST4013 Contemporary China: Politics, Law, Culture and Inter-cultural Communication

  • This course involves a number of seminars by local experts in the subjects of Chinese Law, Politics, Folk Customs and Intercultural Communication, and the internships, as well as two academic field trips to local historic and cultural sites. Download syllabus (PDF)

  • Course instructors from BNUZ

  • 3 credit hours

Please note that this program does not teach Chinese as a Second Language.   Conversational Chinese will be offered in some of the evenings by the BNUZ language partners.

You can earn up to 9 credit hours (3 courses) depending on your academic situation — credits earned from this program are applicable to the extent that they fulfill the requirements of your academic program (usually Arts electives). You must request approval to transfer credits via the Letter of Permission Request Form; detailed information on how to complete your LoP will be given after your acceptance is confirmed.

Important: Final grades issued by the host university will not be included in the calculation of your Saint Mary’s GPA. Only the number of transfer credit hours are recorded for courses you complete at a grade of 65% or higher. Once the credits are transferred to your degree, they are treated as SMU credits.

» Pre-requisites and eligibility

No pre-requisite courses are necessary. Knowledge of Chinese language is not required.

To be eligible for this program, the applicant

  • can be in any academic discipline
  • will have completed at least two semesters of study at Saint Mary’s by April 2018
  • should be in good academic standing
  • should preferably have a minimum of 9 credit hours (3 courses) remaining in the degree requirements that can be fulfilled by the three Arts elective courses offered in the ICS Program

The program is best suited to students who:

  • have a genuine interest in Chinese culture

  • are open-minded about new experiences

  • enjoy working/learning in a team-setting

  • have not travelled to or lived in China, as this program is aimed at students as an introductory learning experience to China

» Program participation requirements

Program requirements include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • During the program, you will do your utmost to represent Saint Mary’s University at all times inside and outside of classes.

  • Your attendance is mandatory at a pre-departure orientation at SMU (date to be determined) as well as at an orientation at BNUZ on Sunday May 13.

  • You are responsible for arranging to have adequate travel insurance coverage. This is mandatory.

  • You must complete the Letter of Permission Request Form and receive approval for transfer credits prior to the start of the program.

  • You must pay your tuition, student fees and room fees on time as required.

  • You will be asked to sign the program agreement and submit to the Global Learning and Intercultural Support Office your passport copy, flight itinerary, and emergency contact information prior to departure

  • You are responsible for applying for a Chinese visa as soon as your acceptance documents are received from the host university.

  • If you are an international student on a Canadian Study Permit or a Canadian Permanent Resident, you must ensure that your Canadian immigration documents are in good order for your re-entry to Canada after the program.

  • You will be asked to sign onto a group on the Chinese social platform WeChat, through which you will stay in touch with the host university organizers, your language partners, etc. leading up to and during the program.

  • You will complete the mandatory debriefing questionnaire and a mandatory post-return trip report (due on August 31). You will not receive your transfer credits until both documents are submitted to the Global Learning and Intercultural Support Office.

» Application and selection process

The application deadline is Monday, February 19. If you are interested in applying for this program, please complete the online application form and submit the following supporting documents before the deadline:

  • Letter of Intent (one-page typed, single-spaced), addressed to the Project Manager-International Mobility at the Global Learning and Intercultural Support Office, outlining:
    • reasons for wanting to study in China
    • how this program will contribute to the successful completion of your degree
    • what impact you hope this program will have on your career and personal goals
    • what it means to act as a Saint Mary’s ambassador during the program
    • your commitment to promote international learning opportunities upon return
  • Printout of your grades from the Banner Self Service
  • A current resume
  • A copy of the photo page of your passport, if currently available.

Your application will not be considered complete until the Global Learning and Intercultural Support Office receives your supporting documents. You can submit your documents in person in Atrium 106, or email them to mobility.international@smu.ca.

The result of all applications will be finalized by March 1. Up to 15 students may be selected to participate in this program.

» Summer program costs

Tuition & Student Fees: CAD$1895. (due April 13, payable to Saint Mary’s University)

Includes tuition for all three credit courses, all course materials, local field trips, and internship placements. The same amount applies to Canadian citizens, Canadian Permanent Residents, and students on Canadian Study Permits.

Room: CAD$16/night (twin room, double occupancy). For a typical 28 day stay the total is CAD$448 (due April 13, payable to Saint Mary’s University)

Meals: Approx. CAD$360 (paid locally in Chinese yuan)

International Airfare: Approx. CAD$1800-2200

You will book your own tickets after your acceptance and visa are confirmed.

The price of airline tickets can go higher, the longer you wait. If you found good tickets that match the program schedule, you could commit to purchasing them before your visa is secured. In this case, be sure to read the terms and conditions of your tickets and avoid a "seat-sale" type ticket that may not allow for any changes or refunds afterwards. We also recommend that you purchase cancellation and interruption insurance coverage with your airline tickets.

You will depart Halifax (or your port of origin) on May 11 (Fri) to arrive in Hong Kong International Airport on May 12 (Sat) by mid-afternoon. Then you will take the ferry from HK International Airport to Zhuhai in the same afternoon. We do not recommend choosing alternate travel dates for your departure.

June 8 is the last day of the program, and students depart BNUZ on June 9, unless a special arrangement is made ahead of time for a short extension of their stay (provided that housing is available on the BNUZ campus and that you have enough days remaining on your visa).

Local transportation: A 70-minute ferry ride between Hong Kong International Airport and Zhuhai costs around HKD260-350 (approx. CAD$40-60). You will also need money for travels inside and outside Zhuhai during your stay.

Travel Insurance (mandatory for all participants): The fees for this program include basic 30-day emergency medical insurance for travellers. However, we strongly recommend that you independently purchase additional coverage for international travel that includes cancellation & interruption, as well as emergency medical. Check with the SMUSA Health Plan Office or other private insurance providers.

Visa: Application fees (approx. $165 for Canadian citizens, approx. $245 for US citizens, and Approx. $140 for citizens of other countries) plus mailing costs for couriering the visa application and passport.

Other: Passport application, personal expenses, expenses for travels arranged on your own, etc.

» Funding

A bursary valued at CAD$1500 is available for up to 15 participants, and is applied directly towards the payment of the tuition and student fees for this program. There is no separate application process for the bursary, as the scholarship recipients will be chosen amongst those who were selected for the program. This means that those who receive a bursary will pay around CAD$395 for their tuition and student fees instead of CAD$1895.

Bursary recipients are asked not to apply for additional funding through the VPAR International Mobility Awards.

» Travel visa

All participants will need to apply for a visa to enter China. An acceptance/invitation letter will be provided for each successful applicant by the host university for the visa application purposes, but it is the applicants’ responsibility to apply for a visa in a timely manner. The decision to grant or refuse a visa is the sole prerogative of the immigration officer.

For more information about the visas, please visit the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre website at visaforchina.org. For applicants whose residence or work addresses are in Ottawa Region (613 or 343 area code), Gatineau (QC), Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, or Nunavut, choose the Ottawa Visa Centre. The Visa Centre accepts visa applications from Canadian citizens or citizens of other countries staying in Canada with legal residence status (i.e., permanent resident card, work permit or study visa).”

» Health and immunizations

We recommend that you see your family physician and go over any health issues, such as immunizations, prescribed medication, and your overall health. There are also specialized travel medicine clinics. Though it may not be necessary to visit one of those clinics, they would be able to give specific advice related to your destination.

While travelling in China, you are typically advised not to consume tap water.

Health-related information is found on-line as well.

» Advice and reflection from past participants

“As for advice to others encountering a foreign culture for the first time, embrace every moment, life is too short to not take in everything you possibly can from an opportunity like this one”

“Every person can take away something different but what will really make a difference in what they take away is the attitude and mindset that they arrive in China with. In order for this program to be beneficial to anyone you need to leave any preconceived notions about China behind and just be very willing to experience China the way it presents itself to you.”

“I don’t feel that anything could have adequately prepared me for my experience at BNUZ. Firstly, the combination of monsoons and extreme heat/humidity are not something that you can necessarily prepare for. Secondly, the language barrier that exists is every bit as real as any visitor is told going to China. It was not rare to find yourself literally communicating in charades and basic Mandarin phrases with someone who speaks no English whatsoever. But ultimately, these sorts of challenges were some of the main, defining parts of my experience in China.”

“Some advice I have to some future students would be to experience new things and don’t be afraid because so many people are in the same boat. Some new experiences may include new foods, exploring the city with some friends, taking the transit without someone that speaks the language.”

“Future participants can benefit by this experience as it is a one of a kind, once in a lifetime experience that you cannot get in Canada. Just the experience of going to school in China is enough. But much of the education comes outside of the classroom. You will learn a lot about yourself. I think it is an experience that definitely isn’t for everyone but for those who embrace it, it’s priceless.”


If you have questions about the application process, please contact the Global Learning and Intercultural Support team. Visit their office in Atrium 106, email mobility.international@smu.ca or call 902-496-8725.