Before going on a study exchange in China, you’re going to want to learn as much as you can about life and study in China. Youtubers living in China can be one of your first stops for easily digestible, fun snapshots of life and the cultural differences you may encounter. 

Because many people study or work in china short term, while others live there for many years, you will find a few specific types of YouTubers in China: long term ex-pats, short term ex-pats, and locals. The long term ex-pats have a lot of knowledge, but less perspective on what it would be like to move to China today, but short term ex-pats may have already left, or won’t be there forever, so the amount of content they produce is more limited. Unfortunately, there are few channels by locals that are in English, so our recommendations will focus on ex-pats.

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While these are a few of our favorite Youtubers, searching for students in your specific city, or that have similar interests to you (Yogis in China, Foodies in China, etc.) will likely help you find some smaller Youtube channels that you can learn a lot from!

1. Liziqi 

Liziqi’s videos may be the most beautiful videos we’ve seen on YouTube. She is one of the most famous YouTubers in China, with nearly 10 million subscribers. She lives rurally, and her videos show the everyday beauty of her life of farming and cooking. Many videos to center on the lifecycle of specific crops – for example showing the growing and harvesting of ginger, followed by a multitude of methods of cooking it. 

Stunning time lapses, underscored by calming music and the peaceful sounds of farming and cooking, make these videos incredible to watch. I think seeing this side of Chinese life is also incredibly valuable, because travelers in China often stop at local markets for their produce or buy handmade local snacks without any real frame of reference for the hard work and dedication that goes into these processes. Liziqi’s videos have helped us to really appreciate our culinary experiences in China!

2. Shanghai Summer School’s favourite: Mamahuhu

One of the most popular comedy Youtube channels in China, Mamahuhu became famous by telling stories of life in Shanghai and China through cross-cultural sketch comedy. The group is a mix of Chinese locals and foreigners that have been in china for ages. Their content is addressing life situations you are unlikely to encounter in any other place on earth. Channel is funny when you have just arrived to China but after some time, we promise you will know exactly what they are talking about.

3. Miriam in China

Miriam’s videos capture something really beautiful about the life of someone who falls in love in China. Originally from Sweden, she currently lives in Qinghai with her husband and child. Her cinematography is quite elegant, and each video feels like a mini documentary, focusing on an aspect of Chinese food or culture, with short interviews of her mother-in-law and other friends and family. All videos are generally subtitled in both English and Mandarin.

Miriam’s rural lifestyle shows something many expats don’t get to experience, as it’s really common to study or work in big cities. If you want a taste of what the less visible side of China is like, from the perspective of a loving family, Miriam’s videos will teach you a lot.

4. Blondie in China

Amy, an Australian who has lived and travelled in China for 5 years, is a fun, approachable vlogger who is also really informative. While her content varies from a standard day in her life to awesome travel and food adventures, she manages to keep it all grounded in really valuable information.

While many travel vloggers focus on the visual aspects of travel, Amy does an excellent job of adding insight and education about a certain destination, food, or cultural norm. If you’re looking for a virtual culture and history tour of various destinations in China, her videos tend to be an easy way to get some insight without being an overload of information.

5. Strange parts – the iPhone guy

Strange Parts is a great Youtube channel for all geeks at heart. Scotty Allen, author of the Youtube channel Strange is an American living in a hardware capital of the world – Shenzhen.  He is probably best known as the iPhone guy. In his first Youtube vlog, he assembled an iPhone from parts he bought at Huaqiangbei, a well-known electronics market in Shenzhen. His achievements do not end there.  He later managed to create an iPhone with a socket for a headphone jack. Quite amazing, right? All in all a very interesting Youtube channel for all of you who enjoy dismantling and assembling electronics.

6. The original China Youtubers: Serpentza, laowhy86, Austin in China

These are some of the original “China Youtubers”, and have been uploading about their life and experiences as ex-pats in China for nearly 10 years. This means they have essentially endless content, and you can see how their understanding of China has changed over time and their perspectives on living in different areas of China. 

One downside is that as long time ex-pats, some of their Youtube videos can be critical of how to approach being a newcomer in China (spending too much time with ex-pats, not learning the language quick enough, etc.), and since they came in a different technological era, their advice for arriving in China today isn’t as robust. 

Also, these are all white guys, and so in some ways, the perspective is very specific. Keep reading for more diversity!

Also, these are all white guys, and so in some ways, the perspective is very specific. Keep reading for more diversity!

7. Kevin in Shanghai and 杰里德Jared

We’ve grouped the two of these Youtubers together because they make similar content, and are friends that show up in each other’s videos a lot! (They may even produce them together, I’m not sure!) Less about education, more about laughs, their videos cover topics like “Chinese vs. Western Study Habits” and “Living in China for 10 Days vs. 10 Years”, which will give you a taste of the culture you’re about to experience, from the perspective of a local (Kevin) and a long time ex-pat (Jared). Plus, they speak both English and Chinese in most videos, and usually include both subtitles! Meaning you can follow along with them no matter where you are in your language learning journey.

8. Jen Tomski

Another smaller YouTuber, Jen, has only been posting for about a year, but you can follow her journey from an exchange student to now a teacher in China! Seeing how study can turn into a future career in China is so interesting, and her food videos (from making dumplings to Chinese KFC) are great!

Find out more about Shanghai Summer School’s summer programs.

Shanghai Summer School strives to provide you with a summer experience unlike any other. The summer school is primarily about learning the Chinese language in an immersive way, but it’s also about going out and discovering a new culture and making meaningful connections with its people. We would even go as far as to say that delving headfirst into the bustling metropolis of Shanghai will allow one to adopt a new and expanded worldview, and a deeper understanding of cultures different than our own.

The knowledge of new languages combined with heightened cultural sensitivity and awareness has become ever more important in the global world we live in today.

Click here to find out more about our programs.