Why did you decide to study abroad with Omeida Chinese Academy?
Katy: The program was recommended by Lonely Planet and the area is just beautiful. The fact that they conduct a pre-test through Skype gave me confidence in their ability to help me move forward in my language studies.
I wasn't disappointed - the classes pushed me and I felt that I learned a ton. While less intense, this was fairly close to the phenomenal language training I had as a former Peace Corps volunteer.
What made this study abroad experience unique and special?
Katy: Omeida Chinese Academy has a great atmosphere. There are Chinese students from around the country at the English school down the street and students from around the world learning Chinese at the Omedia Chinese Academy. This creates an atmosphere ripe for starting new friendships with both Chinese nationals and foreigners. There is always a group ready to eat a meal together and plenty of people willing to help you practice. It's also a beautiful area of the world with with an unforgettable landscape.
What did Omeida Chinese Academy do for you and what did you need to do on your own?
Katy: Omeida Chinese Academy can organize housing for you in a dorm or you can choose to stay at the hostel down the street. They offer lunch and dinner in a cafeteria, but most people prefer to explore the local options, which are expansive.
Most importantly, I found that the staff was always willing to help me, whether it was to exchange money, rent a bike, or find the best food in town. The other students were also wonderful about helping new students.
Do you feel like you got to see the city from a local's perspective?
Katy: Yes! The school is located outside the tourist area and a ten minute bike ride places you in the country side - which is beautiful and full of surprises from water buffalo to wild flowers. You can easily visit local markets and restaurants and as you make new friends -- the options just expand. Omeida and it's students often organize group trips so you can explore places together.
Did you run into a language barrier? Did you ever think you knew more/less of the language?
Katy: Of course! Foreign languages are an adventure - so it's best to just enjoy the ride - bumps and all. For me it's all about being patient with yourself, practicing and not forgetting to find the humor in your mistakes.
If you ever need to be reminded - I highly recommend the book "Me Talk Pretty One Day" - which includes a chapter where some French students, with very limited vocabulary, try to explain Easter to the non-Christian French students.