Guest Post by: Finance and Human Resource Management student Catherine Yin. She participated in the Foster Exchange at the PKU Guanghua School of Management in China for Fall Semester 2019.
One thing that must be taken advantage of during study abroad is the opportunity to travel and explore places that you might not otherwise have a chance. In the case of studying in China, traveling by train and rail is both cheap and convenient. If you happen to be abroad during fall semester, there is also a generous amount of holiday, allowing for a weeklong trip to wherever you desire (granted you plan ahead).
- Finalize plans and book tickets as early as possible. The thing about traveling during Golden Week is that there will be a lot of people no matter where you’re headed, especially if the weather is nice. Train tickets to popular destinations sell rapidly, and every landmark or scenic destination will be packed, so you definitely need to have accommodation and transportation sorted in place before you leave, the more detailed the better (but also be open to switching things up and being flexible depending on timing and situations)!
- Pick up tickets before the day of your trip whenever possible. The one downside about buying train tickets with a passport is that you can’t get it printed through an automated ticketing machine. You must go to a ticket sales counter every time. You never know when there will be a long line at the counter and you definitely don’t want to risk missing your train because you got caught up in the queue. You can pick up as many tickets at once as you want, so if you have two or three upcoming trips, you can choose a day to pick up all the tickets at once and avoid any hassles later on!
- Travel very light. It goes without saying that traveling with as little luggage as possible is more convenient – especially if you’ll be taking the train, which has limited space for suitcases and carry-on bags. With the crowds at the train and metro stations, any suitcase bigger than carry-on size is too much of a hassle compared to a duffle or backpack. Chances are, you will be able to buy whatever it is you need for very cheap, so stick to packing the bare minimum.
- Bring your passport wherever you go. By wherever, I mean everywhere. While the only official instance you would need it is for security check at the train station or airport, there are many other situations in which you will need some sort of government-issued ID verification. The majority of museums, parks, and scenic areas in China offer discounted tickets or free admission for students. Some places are fine with only seeing your school-issued ID, but most require that you have a second, official form of identification, in order to verify your name and age. While you can try to explain that you are an undergrad student and hence, are qualified to receive the discount, it is 100% simpler to just show them your other document. If you are visiting places in Beijing around the national celebration, security will be tighter as well – for example, Tiananmen required passport ID for foreigners in the two weeks prior, whereas they usually do not.