China offers a plethora of foreign experiences and classes in which to learn them. If you have a specific interest or are looking for a way to meet friends, taking a class can be an excellent way of expanding your social circle. Colleges, community centers, and forums are the best places to find listings for classes. There is usually an area to post announcements about courses, programs, and items of interest.
Cooking: Learn the art of Chinese cooking! Classes range from everyday cooking to hosting a dinner party. Learn about food, culture, and dining in China.
Instruction in English. 250-350 RMB.
Contact: 3 Black Sesame Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing, PRC 100009. Tel: +86.1369.147.4408
Debate: If you want an intellectual exercise or just to meet people, attend "The Beijing Debate Society" (DBS). DBS is a not-for-profit, non-religious, non-political organization that seeks to improve argument-building skills. DBS is governed by the British Parliamentarian Debates rules. The debating language is English and attending is free.
Contact: RunqiRMB Tea House, 65 Andingmen Dong Dajie.
Traditional Arts: Take this unique chance to learn from master practitioners. Many cities have academies that accept beginners, and not knowing Chinese is usually not a problem as you can learn by example and imitation. Calligraphy (shufa), a term that covers both writing characters and painting scrolls (that is, classical landscapes and the like) remains a popular national hobby. You can also learn to play a traditional Chinese instrument, or learn about performing Beijing Opera (jingju). Fees are usually low.
Martial Arts and Taichi: China's is famed for it's martial arts. Some, such as tai chi can be studied by simply visiting any city park in the early morning and following along. Other martial arts require more in-depth study. Famous martial arts programs include those at the Shaolin Temple on Mount Song and Wu Wei Temple near Dali.
The Expat Learning Center provides even further options and class listings.
See also our article on Language courses.