Exciting and Accomplishing (kind of expensive but worth it) Past Review

By (Chinese Studies, University of Nevada - Reno) - abroad from 05/22/2015 to 08/18/2015 with

LTL Mandarin School: Learn Chinese in China

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My experience abroad was everything I hoped it would be. I met amazing people, made a wide range of friends from all over the world that I hope to see again, and accomplished my goals. I went on this trip very negative about learning Chinese because of the negative experience I've had in the past with university classes and teachers who do not actually teach you the language. I went to LTL in hopes I would be even a little conversationally fluent in Mandarin. I accomplished this and more. The LTL teachers made learning a language fun again and re-ignited my passion for it. I am more excited than ever to continue to improve my Mandarin and plan to return to China in a few years to look for a job.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The academic environment was great. I never experienced stress from too much homework or pressure to get every aspect of the language correct immediately, something that I often experienced in my University Chinese class and hindered my ability to truly take in the knowledge needed. My LTL classes were hands on and allowed students to learn at their own pace. Just by living in the country you are getting exposure to the language that you would not have in a university class setting. My teachers in Beijing and Chengde (specifically my group teacher Sophia and my one-on-one teacher Helen) were wonderful. They made my classes fun, were willing to answer questions, review material, practiced speaking with me in Chinese, and were very accommodating to all my learning needs .

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The LTL experience is quite independent. They will answer your questions and they will get things done albeit you have to remind them a lot sometimes. Don't expect things to be done for you. About 90% of the official things you have to get done like visa extensions etc. must be accomplished on your own. Depend on yourself is the best way to ensure things go right. I do want to mention one of the staff members who was always willing to help and go the extra mile for students: Sarah. She truly cared about the students and that their lives ran smoothly in China. That type of enthusiasm and care about her job and the students really stood out for me and many others.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Homestay in Chengde was a very interesting experience. I was placed with women only a few years older than myself and I had an amazing time I will definitely be returning to Chengde specifically to see them. I liked the shared apartments in Beijing best because it gave me the freedom to come and go as I pleased.

* Food:

Food was cheap, easy to find, and tasted good. All I can say is be a little careful of some street food as it may make you sick.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Be open minded! Chinese culture is much different than western culture. You will make mistakes, but don't be too hard on yourself for not understanding the first few times around. If your homestay or people laugh at you about something try to laugh with them. It is part of what makes the learning experience fun. People around you are trying to figure you out just as much as you are trying to figure out them. It becomes easier the longer you're in the environment.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not really experience too many health issues but I had a few friends who did have problems. My advice would be to plan ahead for this trip. Bring a first aid kit! I was prone to catch a lot of colds in China so bring medicine if possible. Allergy pills too if you have problems. Better to have it then to find yourself in China without it. Before you leave do research on some international clinics and hospitals in Beijing that cater to foreigners. Email them to find out if they accept your insurance just in case something does go very wrong. Some of my friends had international insurance which is a huge help and takes away much of the cost.

* Safety:

I would never go so far to say Beijing is the safest city ever, but it is much safer than many places. As always though you must be street smart when you go anywhere in the world. As a woman I did not find myself glancing around at night all the time in Beijing. I felt much safer than I do in the U.S.. For an adult this city is very safe. I do have to criticize one aspect of this. While I was at LTL a 12 year old girl was accepted into the program. She was pretty much on her own and not much was done to watch out for her. LTL insisted that Beijing was "safe." Yes. While the city is fairly safe for older teens and adults I would be wary to call it safe for such a young girl on her own in an international city as trafficking does occur in China. It seemed reckless on LTL's part to be so cavalier in this and dare I say a little money hungry. I am not so quick to just criticize LTL, but also to parents who wish to send their kids abroad. I am a huge supporter of seeing the world early. My first trip to Asia was when I was 7 years old, BUT I went with the supervision of my parents. If parents are not willing to accompany their children to a foreign country to ensure they are safe and also help them if something happens then they should wait until their child is at least 15. Travelling is a wonderful experience, but there is also some maturity that must come with it.

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 was very easy to live on a budget. If you're not constantly buying internationally imported items then it is extremely manageable. Food is cheap and most basic items you need to live are as well/


* 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

All our teachers encouraged us to speak in Chinese inside and outside of class. It was a ton of fun to try to put together conversations that were not formal. Definitely much different that most university language classes and much more useful to learning the language.

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? I accomplished HSK 3 by the time I left
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? My advice would be to just practice. Don't be afraid to speak out loud with locals. That is where your speech will sky rocket in improvement. Speak to your teachers if you're having trouble understanding concepts. Ask questions even if they seem repetitive or silly.

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

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
* 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 community that was created
  • The teachers
  • The learning environment
* What could be improved?
  • I believe some of the costs for things could be cut down. Many things that I was originally told were going to cost a lot ended up only costing half or less.
  • More directness in the planning of the trip. At times it was hard to get an exact number for what the cost of each thing would be
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Before going to China I wish I had known that planning trips yourself is far more cost efficient since you know where the money is going. If you have some connections over in Beijing or can speak some Mandarin or know someone who can you can find/arrange for an apartment that is cheaper and often much nicer than the shared apartments in Communication University. For the Great Wall Trip wait until you are there and settled in the school before paying for it. It is cheaper and easier to plan it once you are there

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.