Spending an entire month in a foreign country with a group of strangers can be daunting, but it was by far and away one of the best decisions I've ever made. I spent a total of four weeks in china, traveling all the way from Shanghai to Qinghai in the greater Tibetan area. During our travels, we lived in a variety of housing spaces, from hostels to the homestays. Throughout the entire trip, we threw ourselves into the culture, experiencing the foods and aspects that regular locals would go through on a day to day basis.
We had the opportunity to learn about the things ranging from Mandarin to the Bang Bang army, a group of people who carry loads up and down the hills of Chongqing, one of the biggest and hilliest cities in china. We had the opportunity to plant rice in rice paddies and learn card games that locals play often. We observed park-goers playing competitive games of Chinese chess, surrounded by crows of spectators all chiming in on what they believe the correct move would have been. We really got the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the world around us, detaching ourselves from the daily stresses that we often have to endure during school to experience a life changing journey.
Overall, the entire trip was great. The amazing instructors were all well qualified, and they all brought a unique experience and perspective to the trip. They gave the group an enormous amount of independence, allowing us to plan entire expedition days out into streets of Chongqing or onto the Three Gorges Dam. They also had safety as a top priority and kept our families up to date with the things that went on in our month long trip through the "Yak board."
I would highly recommend Where There be Dragons as an amazing organization that works year round to give amazing educational experiences to students of all backgrounds. If you are taking a gap year or just jumping into your Sophomore year in high school, Dragons is a great way to spend your summer.