Yunnan: An Unforgettable Experiance Past Review

By (Biology, General., The College of William and Mary) for

Minds Abroad: Chinese Language and Culture Study Programs in Yunnan

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My time studying abroad was very worthwhile, I would definitely do it again. For the money put in I got a lot out of the program, met new people and made a huge step in learning a new language. Most importantly I became familiar with a culture that I never before appreciated, and now think the world of because of this program.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

While studying in Yunnan at the host university we focused on basic Chinese language skills as I was just starting out. The teachers were knowledgeable and not to strict. Pronunciation and vocabulary were the most stressed topics and I learned a large amount of information in a short time frame. The American Chinese language course on the other hand was much slower and there was not much personal interaction between the teacher and student like at the host university.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The team coordinating the Yunnan program was very helpful and efficient in coordinating the activities of foreign students. They all had a high mastery of English and knew a lot about America. The program was relatively small when I went but this only improved my experience. The coordinators were not always on top of everything but were there to help when problems arose.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I unfortunately did not stay with a host family but rather a private apartment with all the necessary modern amenities. The apartment was very nice and located in downtown Kunming which is a truly wonderful city and one of my favorite parts of the program. There was plenty to do. According to the students in the program, spending time with their host families was really great as they got to do a lot of activities not available in America.

* Food:

All the food was amazing. I am something of a food connoisseur and was very impressed with all the variety of choices there were. The restaurants that we went to were always high quality and the home cooked lunches were healthy and delicious. Dining is pretty much completely taken care of by the host family and the program so they will show you the best locations to dine out.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

As part of the program I attended, we were taken on weekend side trips to explore the culture. I really liked the trips as we saw ancient Chinese temples and cities that still retained their original style. We even made a short trip to Vietnam which was very fun. The scenery everywhere in China is very beautiful and Kunming especially is wonderful with its constant spring climate.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The city that I stayed in was very safe. I did not get any vaccines before entering the country and was absolutely fine. The program ensures that you are not left alone when going on the weekend excursions but you will have to be independent enough to take public transportation to reach the local university. I lived alone without a host family and never felt in any danger.

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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make sure you have a bank card that can be used in China. Bank of America is one of them. You will need to withdraw money at some point during your stay and having access to an ATM machine is essential. Your host family will take care of most of your meals, so really you only need money for personal expenses. (going out, buying souvenirs)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? None
Language acquisition improvement?

Staying with a host family while attending the program is highly beneficial. Using the language in everyday situations leads to the most overall improvement. Most people did not speak English except for the other students meaning there was ample time for individual practice. Personally I did not improve tremendously but that was only because I did not put in a great amount of effort into studying as I should have, also it is absolutely necessary to continue practicing the language after the program is over to really become adept at speaking.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • N/A

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The cultural experience
  • Making a lot of progress in learning a new language.
  • The people that I met and city that I stayed in.
* What could be improved?
  • Coordination of daily activities
  • More variety of volunteer options.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? A hard working student, committed to learning Chinese will get the most out of this program. But also one that is opened minded and ready to try many new things. Do everything possible while in China and get the most possible out of the program. This is a really once in a lifetime experience.