Alumni Spotlight: Michael Schuss


I am an English as a 2nd language teacher and was working at Wuzhou University in Guangxi Province, China, when I signed up for a month of Chinese language training at Omeida during my spring break. I have also worked briefly in Spain and am currently teaching online for a company named Cambly.

Why did you choose this program?

Yangshuo (Omeida) is about a 4-hour bus ride from where I was living in Wuzhou. Guilin/Yangshuo is a famous part of China, and I was looking forward to seeing the famous Karst hills there. Omeida is also competitively priced compared to some other Chinese language schools in China. Omeida offers a lot of extra-curricular activities such as spelunking, raft trips, and calligraphy.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I organized the whole trip on my own. I signed up for Omeida online. I asked one of my students to call Omeida, and they were very good about arranging for a taxi to pick me up at the bus drop-off in Yangshuo. Cecily met me at Omeida, and she was very helpful in getting me checked in and acculturated to life in Yangshuo.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

If you ever get the opportunity to visit China, go for it! It is a wonderful country! I remember asking someone for directions, and this person actually walked with me to the building I was looking for. I particularly developed a taste for Luo Si Fen (Guilin noodles) when I was there. You can get them "wei la (not too spicy)" or "chao la (lots of spice)." Make sure you visit Xi Jie (West Street) in Yangshuo. It is an amazing place, and you can find some incredible bargains there.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

I was on the half-day program, so I would study for 3 hours in the morning and then have lunch in the cafeteria. I would then go to Xi Jie or for a bike ride to Moon Hill or walk-in Yangshuo Park. The scenery is breathtaking! It's hard to believe that some of the Karst hill formations actually exist. Omeida also gave us a lot of extra-curricular activities, such as lessons on how to make Chinese dumplings and how to write some Chinese characters.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Well, I was very fortunate in that I was in China, working as an English teacher, so I always seemed to have native Chinese speakers helping me. My language partner at Omeida told me that, when she arrived in China, she was picked up at the airport by a bogus cab driver. He drove her around for a while and then demanded 100 yuan before he would take her back to the airport.

How much did your Chinese improve while you were in China?

I lived in China for five years, and I got to the point where I could buy a bus or train ticket, speak in Chinese, or order food in a restaurant, but as far as having a good conversation with a native Chinese speaker, I never got to that level. 6 of us from Omeida, climbed an old tower in Yangshuo Park, one morning to watch the sunrise. Wow!