I am actually studying chinese language in Xi'an right now, prepping for LSAT and taking it this feb when I fly home for 6 weeks (DYING to go home, love china but not chinese women). That said it is a pretty cool city, great food and such. A significant muslim population adds to the mix.
I actually specifically chose to come china because 1.) it's cheap 2.) I am in no danger of not graduating in 4 years, even if I got no credits from goign abroad, undergrad is cake and 3.) DIVERSITY being about as white lower-middle middle class as it gets I thought it might give me a leg up (or just decrease my comparative disadvantage) to spend a year over here. SO I will eb here til january and then come back for march-July.
No sh*%. How about that. I'm living in Yulin in the northern part of the province. I've been down to the Muslim quarter in Xian both times I've been there; and so far it has been my favorite part of the city. I was there during Ramadan, which was pretty cool. And how can you not love the Chinese women? Not that I have an Asian fetish or anything but seriously; they're awesome. I doubt you could find more deferential women anywhere in the world haha.
I spent a week or so in Xi'an. Nice place... take a trip down to the bowuguan if you get a chance.
I got a grant from my university to do a survey of nationalist iconography in museum displays, interestingly enough. I was on the road pretty much constantly for four months, and thus went just about everywhere.
The Bowuguan is a really cool museum. I saw it on my first trip to Xian. I was a history major, so Xian was definitely one of the cooler places I've been so far.
Sounds like you had a pretty interesting research topic. I wonder if you got to Yanan? Where the PLA's long march ended. I was just there a couple of weeks ago and I think you'd be hard pressed to find better museums demonstrating nationalist iconography. I even got a picture of me laying in Mao Tse Dong's old bed; priceless.