Danna is both a native Mandarin speaker, a Chinese national, and has lived in Beijing before. It is extremely unlikely that future exchange students will have such a valuable resource at their disposal. Hopefully this document will answer many of the questions you have, but it is unlikely that your first few days on the ground in China will go as smoothly as ours did.
This was no trouble at all. The magic word to remember is "Tsinghua". All Chinese know it and combined with your student Visa will speed you through customs. I as a non-Chinese national actually got through immigration faster than Danna, as they have separate lines for non-residents. Customs was also a breeze for both of us. The Chinese laws are pretty standard, one bottle of booze, one case of cigarettes, etc. I didn't bring anything at all to declare. The only rule you might have to worry about is the maximum amount of cash you are allowed to bring which is $5000 US Dollars worth.Leaving the airport
If you have lots of luggage, you will need a cab. Otherwise you can take the bus from the airport which is cheap and safe.
Plan in advance, it is really hard to find a good, short-term apartment after Aug 15. And impossible to find a one-bedroom apartment as they are in short supply. But the dorms are nice and safe if you do not mind living in a small room.Dormitories
Muskie ultimately stayed in the foreign student dorms after he completed his MBA studies to futher his Chinese language studies. The rooms are small and clean the two biggest problems are the hardness of the bed and the location of the dormitories, which is in the back corner of campus near the North East Gate. This means a longer walk, bike ride, or cab ride to get to Wu Dao Kou. We also got one of our classmates to give us his account of living in dorms for an entire term:
Current prices 100 Yuan per night 80 Yuan per night if more than a month is paid for in advance 65 Yuan per night if more than three month are paid for in advance 500 Yuan deposit. The dorms are convenient and in good shape, the buildings are new, yet there are a few issues with water in the walls, and the general water supply, especially hot water has been switched off a few times during my 3 months stay. The room provides air conditioning, a shower, toilet, a very hard bed, a computer desk, a TV, a water heater, a small kitchen sink and a closet, all within the approximately 12m^2. One fear was that the heating would not be sufficient in the winter, but the in room heater proved plenty sufficient to keep it as hot as you want it. There is neither a kitchen nor a refrigerator in the dorms. But the dining hall is only about 300 meters away, here they have a great selection, and a meal including a soda is about 7-9 Yuan. The rooms are cleaned everyday and there are always receptionist on duty, the only issue is that they do not speak English, but can often call someone who can translate over the phone. The Dorms are located about 2km from the subway, and 1.5 km from the teaching buildings. There are always drivers in front of the buildings that will take you to the station (8-10 Yuan) or to any other place you might want to go. Activities within 300 meters of the dorms there are basketball, tennis, volleyball and badminton courts, there is an indoor swimming pool, and an area for roller-skating, a bit further, about 800meter there is a gym and indoor courts for basketball, badminton, etc. and martial arts classes, fencing, also takes place there.Off-campus housing
Almost all the students who live off campus live in the same housing complexes in Wu Dao Kou which are called: Hua Qing Jia Yuan, Dong Sheng Yuan or Shui Qing Mu Hua Yuan.Registering as an alien
If you live off-campus, after finding your apartment, negotiating an agreement, you must register with the local bureaucracy so the Chinese government can keep track of were all the aliens are living. This is a relatively painless process, your agency and landlord will likely accompany you, all you have to do is be patient and bring your passport.
This is a slightly time consuming process. It also requires over 500 Yuan in cash so be sure to bring enough money when you register. Registration takes place on the second floor of one of the dormitories. These are located in one extreme corner of campus. It is a considerable walk from the dorms to the MBA Office. The campus, like Beijing itself, is constantly under construction, but the campus is much cleaner and nicer the nearer you get to the East gate. The area around the dormitories is dull and dusty and can provide a bad first impression if you arrive to register by taxi then walk across campus to the MBA Office like we did.Food Card
Even if you do not stay in dormitories it may be worth your while to buy a food card. This allows you to buy food at the cafeterias and saves you from carrying cash. There are vending machines, which accept 5 Yuan and 10 Yuan bills as well as coins. You can purchase sodas and snacks at these vending machines on your breaks.MBA Office
The MBA Office staff is quite friendly and helpful. Their office is located on the second floor of the School of Economics and Management Building. This building is also referred to as the Weilun building.