Vacation on a Budget Past Review

By (Global Studies, San Jose State University) - abroad from 06/06/2015 to 08/12/2015 with

LTL Mandarin School: Learn Chinese in China

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The trip was more than worthwhile! I have a greater appreciation for the lives of people around the world who everyday have to work hard to make ends meet or simply get ahead in an extremely competitive society. I have a greater appreciation for the United States despite it's many many flaws, I have a greater appreciation of cheese which may seem ridiculous until you've been with out it for an extended period of time. I also have a better understanding of what it means to be a student in a society where foreigners who come in to the country leap over you because of their ability to speak a language that you were never even taught. For anyone traveling to China I urge you to make friends and listen to their stories of growing up here it is truly eye opening and will show you that it isn't so bad where you are.

Review Photos

LTL Mandarin School: Learn Chinese in China Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

It is a given that learning Chinese will be intense but I am giving LTL a 5 out of 5 because they made learning the language enjoyable and the teachers use real world experiences to teach you the material.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The only issue I had with my living arrangement was the bathroom not because it wasn't clean but because there was only one. After adjusting to the schedules of my flatmates it gradually became more and more bearable

* Food:

Food is extremely cheap and delicious in Beijing, for about $1.50 you can get a filling delicious and nutritious meal. As always be aware of street vendors that do not look sanitary also, when purchasing fruit from fruit stands make sure to ask for the freshest one to avoid spoiled produce.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had zero health issues while in Beijing.

* Safety:

Much safer than any U.S. city I have been to, the people are friendly and will give directions if asked just be sure you understand correctly. If you are traveling in Beijing and get lost look for a subway station as there is always staff on hand that can point you in the right direction and there is also a large map of the city with corresponding trains.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

It's not Europe prepared to feel like a millionaire but don't get carried away.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $25-$50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? To be honest you can easily survive in China off of $33 which equals ~ 204 人民币 (aka China currency) tips I have avoid foreign anything as it is extremely overpriced. As I stated previously a good meal will cost you anywhere between 5-10(人民币)depending on where you go now a meal from a Western place will cost you between 50-120(人民币) depending on where you go. So you can easily see how pricing can escalate really quickly. As far as toiletries and what not go to Walmart, yes even in China it is still the cheapest place to buy toiletries this should cost you about 100(人民币) for everything including tissue, toilet paper, snacks etc etc.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

There are lots of times where I get away with speaking English outside of the classroom but during class my teachers encourage myself and fellow classmates to speak only in Chinese to improve comprehension.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Elementary Chinese
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? FIND A LANGUAGE PARTNER! I recommend that anyone who comes to China to study the language makes friend with Chinese person that is willing to speak fractured Chinese with them. This will not only improve your listening and speaking skills but also help you to pick up on some of the local slang and pronunciation of certain words.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
  • Other
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The food, the people, the weather constantly changing reminded me of the Bay Area, the Great Wall.
  • The nightlife in Beijing is something to see its unlike anything I ever would have dreamed of.
* What could be improved?
  • There is no point in listing improvements because it is not in my or the schools ability to improve.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I would have known that Chinese people are so generous I would have packed more gifts. I also wish I would have known that the nightlife in Beijing is so amazingly diverse I would have packed more clothes and saved more money.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!