Alexa. IBCE Program- Batch 4 @ the University of South Carolina.

Perfect day at the Great Wall


PRINCH or “Pragmatic Internship in China” is a 12 day intensive language program that takes place in different cities in China each year (last year Xi’an, this year Beijing) and an IBCE requirement. To be completely honest, I wasn’t even sure what this was until I got here. I know that it is a relatively expensive program that can charge so much because it is “for credit” even though us IBCErs actually get no credit at all for it. From the outset it sounded like USC administration wanted to build better relations with CUHK and decided our wallets could be sacrificed in the process. It sounded like we got scammed. And maybe this was the purpose behind IBCE picking up this program, but only three full days into PRINCH & I already see massive results.

So what exactly is PRINCH? As I learned at the hotel the day before the beginning of the program, each day we start with studying/bao gao and then head off to some type of tourist attraction in the afternoon that relates to the vocabulary we learn in the morning. We are split into groups of 4-5 with one teacher, and there are three “head teachers”, if you will, that bump around the groups to make sure we’re on task. To give you a better idea, a “typical day” would look like this:


9-10:30 am: Meet teacher at hotel, walk to university (in this case, Minzu Uni). Edit your speech regarding the tourist attraction you visited the evening before. Then one by one, recite your 3 minute speech (or in my group’s case, 2 minutes including long pauses) to your teacher . She records one person per day in the group. Then read about the tourist attraction you’ll visit the coming evening and learn new vocab regarding this attraction.

10:30-11 am: Wait in agony as Liu laoshi aka “that head PRINCH lady” chooses 4 students from all the groups to give their speech to the entire body of students and teachers. Then cry a little inside when you’re chosen.

11-1 pm: Lunch break! But don’t think you’re off yet. You stay with your groups and teacher- actually not too bad though. Your teacher is probably a post grad student at the university and knows loads of local restaurants or nei cha places around. Practice reading menus in Mandarin and eat Beijing cuisine, keeping in mind that you’re still required to speak Mandarin during lunch. Sounds terrible, but your teachers are close to your age and aren’t really looking to interrogate you at lunch either. It’s very relaxed and you also learn a lot from them about conversational Putonghua.

1- 5/6 pm: Head off to whatever tourist attraction you’re presumed to attend that day. This could include the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, cultural museum, Great Wall, large shopping centers & street food places, etc. Your tour guide is your teacher and again, this is all in Mandarin. Reinforce vocabulary you learned in the morning.

5/6-7 pm: The expectation is that you grab dinner with your teacher (See 11-1 pm lunch break).

Evening: Work on your presentation/speech/report for the following morning.


Yeah it’s a lot.

First semester at CUHK I took a writing class. Spring semester I was supposed to take the speaking cohort, but my Mandarin class didn’t have enough students and they dropped the section. The only other section conflicted with my required business courses, so I really haven’t taken a speaking class since last summer. This, of course, set me way behind the other IBCE students. PRINCH, while insanely intense (hence intensive program), immediately immerses you in the language and culture. There’s no other way I would have been able to pick up where I left off so quickly. By the end of the week I think I’ll be there. And then, I can only improve. As far as the other students, it depends on who you talk to. Some people LOVE this program, and others are just really homesick and counting down the days to our June, month-long, summer break. Regardless of where your info comes from, there’s absolutely no denying the tremendous language progress. In my opinion this is just a really fantastic way to transition into BLCU in July. We’ll spend 9 weeks continuing our language studies there, before returning to the estranged, vaguely familiar, USC.

And a photo from our trip to the Forbidden City with PRINCH

And a photo from our trip to the Forbidden City with PRINCH

See ya Hong Kong- On to Beijing!

So this week I said goodbye to Hong Kong and made the incredibly difficult move to Beijing (physically difficult -*cough* 3 suitcases- not emotionally btw haha)-

As much as I’m excited for my senior year back in Hong Kong, it was time to go. I’m still absolutely in love with Hong Kong (especially with my recent discovery of all the brunch places! LILY&BLOOM <3 ), but being all the way out in Shatin has a way of making you incredibly talented at creating excuses to not get out of bed. I can’t sit still for more than a few hours, but with friends at the top of the mountain on our campus, they honed these talents and I rarely saw them towards the end of the semester COUGH EMILY REARDON COUGH. My insanely expensive PURE gym membership made it impossible to go more than a day or two without heading to Mong Kok, or riding an enormous guilt trip. Also, lezbehonest, Spring semester could in no way compare to the Fall semester madness. Fall semester boasted 300+ ivy leaguers ready to de-stress and blow cash, which obviously worked in our favor. I didn’t learn much but gained some of that good-old “life experience”? Uhm, “Memories”? Yeah…

Anyways- Spring semester wasn’t boring. If Hong Kong is boring, you’re doing something wrong. Just a lot of breaks at the beginning for the New Year/other random holidays, so less opportunity to meet people & new exchange students. Also started taking classes for my major, less students in general, and of course just the new-ness of it all wearing off. Still took some fun trips and had a blast though. I think the main problem was that finals dragged out over a month, so while we IBCErs were stuck with some of the last exams (second week of May), our friends were mostly gone by mid-April which left us nothing much to look forward to except Beijing. ENTER BEIJING.

The general consensus from everyone I talked to was that I would HATE Beijing/cry myself to sleep every night, and I will honestly admit I complained on a daily basis the entire month leading up to said move. For the time being, however, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. I was led to believe (or led into certain assumptions) that people are rude, the city is nasty, the pollution would all but kill my sickly, asthma-ridden body, and the list goes on.. While I’ve only been here a week, I have actually really enjoyed my time so far. Chaoyang district is awesome (duh!) and Camille, my fellow IBCE Batch 4 gal, is living there now in an apartment for the duration of her internship. This of course offers easy access and a constant excuse to head over to the endless clean malls, walk around in the expat areas, try some new restaurants, grab some GongCha or dumplings, xing ba ke my life away on the outdoor patios (Starbucks), or spend all day in the sun at Chaoyang Park if I’d like. The people are really nice by the way and the weather has been sunny and not too hazy thus far. Obviously you have the large amounts of traffic, but to be expected. To be honest, it’s far less crowded than I thought it would be. In that respect I think Hong Kong takes the cake. While Beijing hosts a far larger population, the city is very well spread out, with shopping centers, restaurants, universities, jiubas, etc. very well dispersed. Hong Kong is all crammed together, but obviously makes transportation times less of an issue. Oh, also HOLLAHHH- 2 yuan to get to any stop on the metro in Beijing. Roughly 6 yuan to the dollar so you can understand my excitement.

Our PRINCH language program just started and we’re hitting up the Great Wall on Friday. Lots of exciting things to do and descriptions to provide. I’m feeling more productive so (once again) I’ll promise to try and post something at least once a week!

This video is great!

Exams start in two weeks?? Noooooo.
Here’s a look back at 11 incredible months of living in Hong Kong and traveling throughout the East. We’ll be back- just not soon enough.