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China: Mandarin Language Intensive

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics


  • Living Situation


  • Cultural Immersion


  • Program Administration


  • Health and Safety


  • Social Life


The best summer you could possibly have!

I cannot recommend this program more highly. I had been studying Chinese for a few years, but was feeling discouraged in my Chinese classes at school and wondered why in the world I was memorizing all of this vocabulary- what was it all for? That's when I stumbled upon Dragon! I considered tons of other programs (SYA, etc), but kept coming back to Dragons because it had everything I was looking for- intensive Chinese, tons of rugged travel, homestays, trekking, community service, a small group, really experienced and passionate instructors, and I could go on.

Part of why my experience was so great was because of my group- we were 11 strong (6 guys, 5 girls), and clicked from the beginning! I was worried that everyone would know each other or be from the same schools, but we were from all different areas of the country, and no one knew each other going in, which was perfect! One of the best parts of the group was how different we all were- we all got along, but there was never any cliquey-ness because there were so few of us and we all mixed together. When we did have a few issues with a member of the group, the instructors handled it really well, checking in often with both sides of the issue and monitoring closely, while still giving us freedom and responsibility. The group overall was just amazing though-- looking back, I can honestly say I've never been that happy for such a long period of time as I was while in China, and I think a lot of it was because of our group!

The homestays were another amazing part- it was so great to get to see such disparate areas of the country and really get immersed in the culture- I loved both of my families, but the good news was that if your family was hard to communicate with or something like that, you weren't constantly with your family, and had a lot of other things to do (especially in Kunming). I loooved traveling around as well, seeing rural and urban areas, and planning our trip at the end- I felt like I not only got a great feel for Yunnan, but that I now know so much more about what it take to travel "close to the ground" in China- so empowering!

After being back in the US for a few months now, I can also honestly say that my Chinese has improved SO much. Particularly with my listening and speaking skills, I feel soo much more confident in the classroom (and am making better grades!) and am actually loving learning Chinese now, because I know it'll all be worth it when I go back to China and can communicate even better!

All in all, I honestly wish the program had been 12 weeks rather than 6, because I just loved it so much-- if you're on the fence, just go for it!