It is hard to describe with words how interesting and full of wonderful experiences studying in Nanjing University is. Nanjing is a great opportunity for people studying Chinese language to see not only modern China but also old China - Nanjing itself is a beautiful city that once was the capital of China, where architecture from Ming dynasty is right next to modern building and together creates a perfect mixture between what is new and what is old.
Nanjing University is placed conveniently next to Shanghai Road, where you can find anything you might need. University itself has teachers which are experienced with teaching foreigners and the fact, that they don`t speak lot of English will soon be not a problem at all, because they know how to explain things in Chinese simply, so even if you just started to study Chinese language you will not have problems and will soon get used to it and your level of Chinese will improve very quickly.
Nanjing University also has a “Buddy program”, which I mention also below. Buddy is a young student of NJU, that speaks English and with your buddy you can not only avoid unpleasant experiences (being robbed of while bargaining, not being able to find something you need to buy), but also practice your Chinese. They can show you around, take you to meet new people and explain some cultural differences when things become unclear. I quickly became friends with buddies of my friends and we altogether often went for a dinner or had hot pot at our apartment. These memories are very precious and I will remember them for rest of my life. Having such nice and openminded optimistic friends, which are very happy to help you, is priceless and I am very glad that I could, thanks to Nanjing University Buddy program, have such a warmhearted experience.
Registration and getting visa: If you need residence permit, you need to go through various types of registration. Besides getting your papers checked at the registration in school, you need to go to Zhangfuyuan subway station to get your medical papers checked. Prepare at least 500 yuan and a pack of patience. If your HIV tests do not specifically say that they are for “HIV1 and HIV2” they will not be accepted. Stamp on them needs to be red and all (of course) in English or Chinese. Lung x-ray needs to have a picture on CD and most of the people I met there did not get away with EKG test either. Easiest way is just to give up, stand in the queue, and pay. All together should be lower than 500 yuan. You will also probably need to go to the police station to register where you live, but that differs.
School registration is just crazy. You can either get up really really early to get to the queue on time, but if you oversleep, you should leave it either for before they close or another day. Going to registration around 10am makes no sense, because they have lunch break and you will not make it on time.
Accommodation: In case your scholarship does not include your accommodations, you might run into trouble with getting dormitories. NJU will not book a room for you in their dormitories in advance, because they are waiting for the students, that get accommodation with their scholarship to arrive. My advice is that you contact Nanjing University before you come to Nanjing and they might provide you with a buddy, that can help you to take care of things, for example to look for an apartment. We were lucky and got our buddy as soon as we arrived and she helped us to get an apartment, wifi, SIM cards and everything we needed. Apartments are usually cheaper than dormitories, so no need to worry about the price. Another possibility is to live with a Chinese family. Some of our friends lived with Chinese family and not only they saved money but also their Chinese improved a lot. I suggest not to try to find a place by yourself as you probably do not have enough experience with bargaining and landlords might set the price higher for you. In the area around NJU you can also contact a guy called Bamboo (15895869241). For 500 yuan he can show you apartments for rent around NJU and also sometimes knows about people that are looking for roommates. I know the name sounds shady, but everyone knows Bamboo and from personal experience I know that he is trustworthy. NJU`s Zengxiazilou building downstairs (the one that you will have your classes in) also has a cafe, where you can find ads from people looking for roommates.
School subjects: Besides classes that you are gonna take as mandatory (Comprehensive Chinese, Listening, Speaking and Writing, but different levels have different classes) you should also take a look at Wenhua classes. You can find their schedule on the fifth floor along with other schedules. They offer Calligraphy, Chinese painting, Movies, HSK preparation and Taichi. I took Chinese painting and I loved it, so I recommend that one. Calligraphy was unfortunately quite crowded. You will get a Wenhua credit for it, if your home uni recognizes it or not depends on your uni (mine does not).
Finals: Autumn finals are (or at leas were when I studied in NJU) before Christmas. Then you have a bit less than 3 months of free time. If you stay for more than one semester keep on mind, that you unfortunately need to go through the registration in school once again. But because you will be experienced enough from the first one, it will not be as painful as the first time. Finals are okay, if you of course studied well enough through the semester. Spring finals finish one week or slightly more before the end of June.
Canteen card: If you are interested in going to the school canteen, you should apply for a canteen card. Ask the staff of NJU at the registration in the first few days of the semester. They will probably send you to the fifth floor where you can apply for a canteen card. In the end of your studies you don't have to bother to give it back, because they will not give you your deposit back.
Hospital: In case something happens to you, you can try the school hospital. My boyfriend went because of back problems and was satisfied. Just keep in mind that going to the hospital might be a bit pricey, but you usually get money from your insurance company back.
Some useful tips:
Your students card will allow you to get half price for tickets, usually cinema and sights. Bring it whenever you are going somewhere where you need to pay for an entrance ticket.
In case you take subway a lot, you should get a subway card. Saves a lot money.
Buses in Nanjing are 2 yuan.
Skyways bakery on Shanghai Road has a free muffin or croissant with your coffee/tea before 12am.
I hope my review was at least a bit helpful for you. I enjoyed my stay in Nanjing and studying in NJU very much :) (Adela)