Once you are accustomed to the relentless crowds, noise and pollution, Beijing offers an enormous eye-opener of a year-abroad experience. The Great Wall is the best, most obvious starting point, before trawling Wangfujing and Xidan for some accessory shopping and some tasty fried scorpion kebabs (go on, dare you). Culture vultures will want to secure tickets to a Beijing Opera show at the National Opera Theatre, and exercise enthusiasts will want to join in with the early morning tai-qi classes down the local park. Foodies will think they have died and gone to heaven: what the Chinese can’t do with any ingredient you throw at them isn’t worth trying! Try the Beijing specialities of jiaozi and baozi - dumplings with countless fillings - or if it’s spicy you’re after, go for some Sichuan style noodles. You can find it all in Beijing.
One thing language-wise: Beijingers speak Chinese with an accent that to some sounds like they are swashbuckling pirates. Namely due to erhuayin, if you choose to study in Beijing you will no doubt come out with a strong Northern accent, which is so much fun!
All in all, should you select the Northern Capital as your destination, you will leave feeling you could never top that year with a better experience. And your belly will agree.