As foreign students return to Beijing for the autumn semester, the Exit and Entry Administration Division has been kind enough to inform them of the rules for living in the city. For instance, people planning a parade or demonstration must submit a written application. It doesn't specify whether you'll be allowed, for instance, to call for an independent Taiwan or preach the benefits of your homemade spiritual philosophy. Want a dog? You've got to register it at the local police station. It will cost you 1,000 yuan, with an annual fee of 200 yuan. Note that 'large dogs are banned within the 3rd ring road'. Meanwhile, if you stay with Chinese friends in their home village, you'll have to register at the police station within 24 hours of arriving. Want to ride around on your motorbike? According to the department, motorcycle licences are limited. If you get an A licence you can go into the city as far as the 3rd ring road. With a B licence you can go only as far as the 4th. Every city has its rules for foreigners, and it's helpful when they actually make them known. But, for the 23,000 foreign students going for degrees in China - the majority being South Koreans - and the thousands doing a study-abroad semester, reading laws aren't usually on the top of their list. 'I haven't heard of many rules,' said Canadian student Nick DiCastri, 22, who has been in and out of China for five years and is fluent in Putonghua. 'I had some hassles dealing with the medical check-ups, but that's about it.' City officials aren't all about enforcing rules; they also want to make students comfortable in Beijing. In the city's English-language newspaper, two officials warn foreign students about dangers: avoid scams involving people selling you faulty goods at exorbitant rates; and don't take rides in unmarked cabs or rent flats from shady agents. There are also certain western 'cultural' habits to tone down. For instance, if you manage to get a Chinese driving licence, you should keep to the speed limit to avoid causing 'panic among pedestrians'. Despite all these rules, students have a pretty good set-up in Beijing. As China hand John Pomfret writes in his book Chinese Lessons, students often have more freedom to get to know the real China than journalists, diplomats or businesspeople. The reason is that 'the Chinese government didn't much care about us foreign college kids. We could move around more freely, have closer contact with the locals and, as a result, get a better idea of what it was like to be Chinese'. Mr DiCastri seems to agree. He enjoys life in China and never worries about breaking the law. 'I just know what not to do,' he says. As for the rule against bringing large dogs within the 3rd ring road, his sense of diplomacy is strained: 'That's crazy, man.'