Study Abroad in Xi'an

If you're wary of getting smothered by the sheer mass of Beijing or Shanghai, try studying abroad in Xi'an. Heaven for history enthusiasts, this diverse city has prestigious universities, a thriving Muslim quarter and some terracotta warriors you may have heard about.

Study Abroad in Xian - Garden in Xian

photo by Simon Hooks


"Xi'an has a very good atmosphere compared to places like Shanghai or Beijing," says Mark Vranicar, who has lived in Xi'an for three years and blogs at "Xi'an is also a very manageable city. It's big, but not sprawling." Mark further opines, "From the old Muslim men in white kufi skull hats to the Buddhist monks that I occasionally see on my walks to work while passing the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, there is a lot of diversity within Xi'an."


Xi'an Jiaotong University is a research-oriented university with a focus on science and engineering. International students following the Chinese language program have the opportunity to pursue elective courses, including calligraphy, Chinese music, cooking, paper cutting and more.

Northwest University, the oldest university in the region, provides small language courses, usually around 15 people. Supplemental classes, such as ancient literature, martial arts and politics/diplomatic relations, provide insight into Chinese culture.

A night on the town

Catch the Tang Dynasty Dinner Show. It's a little bit of Las Vegas mixed with with a 1,000-year-old tradition--plus you get a dinner of delicious dumplings. If tickets are sold out, stay with the Vegas theme and head to the Big Goose Pagoda's north square for the evening show of Asia's largest light and music fountain.

Study Abroad in Xian - Beautiful Xian at Night

photo by Stefan Schneider

Eat this

You like lamb, right? You'll fit right in Xi'an, where the signature dish is Yang Rou Pao Muo, or lamb soup. The Muslim quarter also has tasty lamb kebabs. But don't worry. You'll still find plenty of noodles and steamed dumplings to be had.

Sites to see

If you study in Xi'an, or even just pass through, you're sure to visit Pit No. 1 and the rows of stunning terracotta warriors who guard the mausoleum of China's first emperor. Notice the faces: each is unique. Together they reflect the diversity of the emperor's subjects--something mirrored in Xi'an even today. The warriors deserve their fame, but the Grand Mosque, an intriguing mix of Islamic and Chinese artistry, is underappreciated. Part of the fun is shopping in the Muslim quarter around the mosque before or after your visit. Don't miss the persimmon pastries ("shizi bing").

Study Abroad in Xian - City Wall in Xian at Night

photo by Stefan Schneider

If you're looking for a little exercise, rent a bike and take a lap around Xi'an on the old city wall. Need fresh air? Hike Hua Shan, one of the five sacred mountains of Taoism. If you're really daring, start the hike at midnight and arrive at the top in time for sunrise. It's not for the faint of heart--or those prone to vertigo--but it is truly beautiful.

Weekend trip

Take the night train to Pingyao, a UNESCO world heritage site. This amazingly intact traditional Han city from the 14th century is touristy, it's true. But step off the main drag and you'll be swept back centuries. The view of the city from the south gate wall is especially nice.

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China Study Abroad (CSA)

China Study Abroad takes the uncertainty and difficulty out of coming to China. We take care of all the necessities before you arrive and continue to provide wide-ranging services after arrival, leaving you to study the language, explore the culture, and have fun interacting with local people and other foreigners living abroad.

Offering Programs In: China