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Student life at PKU

Read about student life in China

Life in Beijing is amazing and full of contrast. It goes from modern places like the 2008 Beijing Olympic area, to ancient historical places with the Forbidden City for instance.
Thomas Fedusac, Engineer, Safran, France

Below you will find information which we hope will make your transition into student life in China a little easier. Jump to extracurricular activities, food and shopping, practical information.


About Beijing and Peking University


Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), is under the direct administration of the central government of the PRC. The city is widely considered as the political, cultural and historical centre of China. With a history of more than 3,000 years, Beijing has been the capital city for six dynasties in Chinese history. Due to its historical background, Beijing has conserved many royal palaces and parks of the ancient Chinese emperors, such as the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace. The city is also famous for its cultural heritage. One good example is Beijing Opera, which is a traditional form of artistic performance, and it is regarded as the quintessence of Chinese culture.
With the rapid modernization of China, Beijing has now become one of the most important financial and business centres. In terms of educational development, Beijing is one of the leading cities in China, where numerous prestigious higher education institutions are located. It also has many scientific research institutions, which makes the city an important base for China’s technological development and innovation.

In 2008, Beijing hosted the 29th Olympic Games. Since then, the city accelerated its pace of globalisation. At present, Beijing has developed exchanges with different countries and regions in economy, trade, technology, education and culture at both governmental and social levels.

Peking University

“There is only one Beida” is a phrase often heard in China, referring to the term Chinese use for Peking University. The University is China's oldest and most prestigious, and is internationally recognized as the leading institution of higher education in the country. Established in 1898, the university has a total enrolment of over 46,000 students, with just under 2,000 international students.

Its outstanding international reputation is based on a wide range of achievements, many in the natural and social sciences. In 1965 it synthesized bovine insulin artificially for the first time in the world. In the early 1970s it developed the first MFLOPSIC computer in China, and in the 1990s the atomic weight of indium, measured by a Peking University academic, was adopted by the International Atomic Energy Agency as the international standard.

Peking University is proud of its outstanding faculty, including 53 members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), 7 members of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), and 14 members of the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS).

The Peking University campus is one of the most beautiful in China. The campus, known as "Yan Yuan" (The Gardens of Yan) is situated at the northeast of the Haidian District at the western suburbs of Beijing, with a total area of 2,743,532 square metres (274 hectares). The campus includes many traditional style Chinese buildings, a large lake and several former residences and buildings used in ancient Imperial China. It stands near the Yuan Ming Gardens and the Summer Palace.

The university has effectively combined research on important scientific subjects with the training of personnel with a high level of specialized knowledge and professional skill, as demanded by the country's socialist modernization. It strives not only for improvements in teaching and research work, but also for the promotion of interaction and mutual promotion among various disciplines.

You are welcome to visit the Peking University website to learn more about Peking University.

Facilities at Peking University

Self-study areas - Most self-study areas in the teaching buildings are available during the summer vacation.

Library - The main service areas in the library are open during the Summer School. The library is closed on weekends.LSE-PKU Students are able to read but not borrow books from the library.

Computer and laptop use - Students will be able to access computers and e-resources from the library. However, we strongly recommend that you bring your own laptop or tablet for your convenience, you may also need to bring an adapter. Participants attending MY201 (Big Data) are also required to bring calculators with them.

Printing - There are two main printing stores on campus.

Internet - There is a relatively good Wi-Fi coverage on campus. Students will receive login details and instructions before they arrive.

Sports facilities - Students will have access to PKU's tennis court, Khoo Teck Paut gymnasium (邱德拔体育馆), Kangmeile Fitness Centre (康美乐健身中心) and Wu-si field (五四体育场).


Extracurricular activities

We know that many participants want to experience something of Beijing beyond the classroom, so we arrange social and sightseeing events before and during the LSE-PKU Summer School.

Extracurricular and social events

Formal opening cermony and welcome - The Summer School will officially begin with a formal welcome from the LSE-PKU Summer School Academic Director on Sunday 5 August, followed by a campus tour. In addition we offer the following optional events:

Movie Night - We will be showing a film on the PKU campus. This event is free to all LSE-PKU Summer School participants and normally includes a screening of a classic or contemporary Chinese film (with English subtitles if relevant), along with some popcorn to make the evening even more enjoyable.

Happy Hour - Join your fellow students at the end of the first week, providing a chance to unwind together and reflect over your first week with refreshments and good company.

Roundtable - During the LSE-PKU Summer School we organise an evening roundtable event to which all summer school participants are invited. The event begins with a panel session where some of our faculty debate an interdisciplinary topic, and we then invite questions from the audience to generate additional thought-provoking discussions.  This is normally one of the educational highlights of the programme as it brings together attendees and experts from across multiple courses.

Gala Dinner - We invite all participants to attend a gala dinner on the final evening of the LSE-PKU Summer School, along with faculty and administrative staff from the programme. The event takes place at a local hotel and is a wonderful occasion to celebrate the unique experience the LSE-PKU Summer School offers. The dinner is also a final opportunity to network with the fascinating faculty, staff and students who participated in this programme before saying goodbye to the great friends you have made - or preferably - "see you again next year!"

Cultural event

Excursion- There will be a one-day visit to the Great Wall of China (the section at Mutianyu) - one of China's most iconic images and a hugely important historical and cultural attraction. Return transport is arranged from the PKU campus via air-conditioned coaches, and visitors have the opportunity to walk along the Great Wall, take photographs, have something to eat and look inside some of the watchtowers. As one might imagine, this trip is very popular with our participants, and the vast majority of LSE-PKU Summer School students attend, including those who are from Beijing and/or China. Trips to other places of interest may also be available, and this will be confirmed closer to the beginning of the programme. All LSE-PKU Summer School social events are optional and can be booked during registration in Beijing (additional charges are payable).

Top Tip: Beijing is also full of other attractions, including the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, the Lama Temple, the Hall of Great Harmony, the Gate of Heavenly Peace, Tiananmen Square, the 'Birds Nest' stadium (Niaochao) and many others. If you don't have time to see them all during the LSE-PKU Summer School, you may wish to consider extending your trip and staying slightly longer after the LSE-PKU Summer School to make the most of your time in China.

"Try to stay a bit longer than the programme takes so that you can utilise this time to explore more of Beijing and China, possibly with the new friends that you have met. There is simply so much to do and see, and since the study load is relatively heavy, you really want some extra time to explore the city." Maxim Roben, Vrije University, Netherlands


The Peking University Centennial Lecture Hall, which is called “Bai Zhou Nian Ji Nian Jiang Tang” (百周年纪念讲堂) in Chinese, regularly holds exhibitions and performances for students. The Peking University Centennial Lecture Hall was built for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Peking University. Now it has become a famous landmark on campus and an important venue for academic, cultural and artistic activities.


Food and shopping

With the exception of Beijing’s best-known culinary export, Peking Duck, most of the city’s most famous dishes have been adopted from surrounding areas; Hebei, Shandong, Inner Mongolia, and Xinjiang.


On-campus - There are many cafeterias on campus offering low cost options, further details will be provided in the pre-arrival guide.

Off-campus - Outside the Southwest Gate of PKU and across the street, you will find the Changchunyuan Food Street (畅春园食街). There are plenty of affordable Chinese and Western restaurants.

About a 10-15-minute walk from the PKU Global Village  (Zhongguanxinyuan 中关新园), there is a street of restaurants that provides a variety of choices. You can take a bus from Zhongguanyuan Station (中关园站) and get off at LanqiyingStation (蓝旗 营) (only one stop), and you will find many restaurants on the south side of Chengfu Road (成府路).

A bit further away in Wudaokou (五道口), Zhongguancun(中关村) and Haidianhuangzhuang (海淀黄庄), there are Pizza Hut, Mr. Pizza, Korean and Japanese restaurants, as well as other foreign cuisines. You can get there either by bus or by subway.


On campus - There is a Family Mart, a Guoan Community store, and a fruit store located at Building No.29. There is also a Guoan convenient store at the New Sun Student Centre (underground).

Off campus - Convenience and fruit shops are found on the 2nd Floor of Building 4 in PKU Global Village. Wudaokou (五道口) is a popular area with supermarkets including Lotus Yichulianhua (易初莲花), Chaoshifa (超市发), Watsons (屈臣氏 Quchenshi), shopping stores, restaurants, cafes, and book stores. You may also take buses to Carrefour/Jialefu (家乐福), a French franchise supermarket. Carrefour, together with an array of boutiques, restaurants and other shops, are located at Zhongguancun Square (中关村广场).


Practical information


Travel and personal - The LSE-PKU Summer School provides no insurance cover for you during your stay. Prior to leaving your home (country), you need to make a decision about the level of insurance cover appropriate to the possessions you will bring with you. Although you will be able to take simple steps to protect your possessions, electronic equipment (such as laptops, iPods and digital cameras) are highly sought after by petty thieves and, therefore, should be considered ‘at risk’. You should also consider luggage insurance, in case your bags are lost in transit.

Medical - Please ensure you have personal medical insurance. Beijing has excellent hospitals and emergency rooms, and we will provide details of these when you arrive. It is also imperative that you have your medical insurance details with you at all times.

Chinese doctors’ prescriptions can be easily filled in one of the nearby pharmacies. We recommend, however, that if at all possible you bring an adequate, labelled supply of any prescription medicines you regularly take as ingredients in medications sometimes vary from one country to another (remember to keep them in their original containers). Also, please note that medication names vary from country to country, so consult a pharmacist if you are unsure. We also ask that you declare any known illnesses/allergies, in confidence, to the staff at PKU during or before registration so that we have access to this information should an emergency arise.


Beijing’s weather can be hot and humid with occasional thunderstorms during August. The average temperature range is from 21°C to 30°C (70°F to 86°F) although temperatures can reach over 35°C (95°F). It is therefore important to pack suitable clothing (cotton and linen are especially good since these fabrics are breathable and can help to take perspiration away from the body and keep you dry) and an umbrella can also be useful for rainy periods or indeed periods of high sun. Sunglasses are also advised. It is also a good idea to dress in light layers and to take a good waterproof, light-weight jacket.


China runs on 220V/50HZ power. The main power outlet type is ‘I’ type but ‘C’ type plugs work with an adaptor. Please ensure you bring the correct adaptors with you and that any electrical appliances are suitable for use in a 220V system. You can use your electric appliances in China if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220V - 240V (as in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa).


The currency in China is the Renminbi (abbreviated to RMB) and also sometimes referred to as ‘yuan’. The sign for this is ‘¥’ and each yuan is subdivided into 10 jiǎo (角), which in turn are subdivided into 10 fēn (分). If you have not already arranged to exchange currency in advance, you can exchange money at the airport on arrival in Beijing. Many banks and ATMs that accept foreign cards can be found on or near the campus, where you can withdraw money in RMB.

Credit Cards - Foreign credit cards can be used in large hotels, the most upmarket restaurants, and to buy aeroplane tickets, but for virtually nothing else. Visa, Mastercard, JCB and AmEx are the most widely accepted. Cash advances on foreign credit cards are available at the Bank of China, but usually only from the main branch in each town. You’ll need to bring a passport have to withdraw at least 1200¥. The commision is 4%, but AmEx users don’t have to pay it. Don’t be fooled by the visa sign outside other Chinese banks and in hotels – it refers to Chinese Visa.

Mobile Payment - Alipay and WeChatPay are China’s two biggest mobile payment services.

Mobiles/cell phones

Most international mobile phones work in Beijing. However, you are still advised to check with your phone operator on the costs for making and receiving calls, texts, internet data use etc. before departure.

Data roaming can be very expensive, so 3G or 4G users may want to buy a local SIM card. There are 3 main telecommunication providers in China, each with their own SIM contract packages and telephone system requirements. China Unicom is usually recommended. You can find such telecommunication vendors near campus.

Please note - You will need your passport in order to purchase a SIM card and sign a real name registration contract.

Language and useful phrases

While the LSE-PKU Summer School is fully taught and assessed in English, the official language in Beijing is Mandarin. Part of the enjoyment of attending the Summer School is experiencing a new country and culture beyond the classroom, which includes its language. 

For those who do not already speak Mandarin or who are not attending our two week Pre-sessional Chinese Language Course, it may be useful to learn a few basic phrases to help when you are out and about in the city or elsewhere. It may also be a good idea to purchase a bilingual English-Chinese visual dictionary which includes images which you can point to when trying to make yourself understood. There are many websites which also include free online introductory courses, here are a few:

BBC Languages - Chinese

Radio Lingua Network - Chinese

The Open University - Chinese


Gaia Ginevra 16.9"LSE-PKU Summer School has been an amazing experience!" Gaia Ginevra, The University of Manchester, UK