Middlebury School in China: Kunming

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The Middlebury program in Kunming, run in conjunction with CET Academic Programs, offers cultural and linguistic immersion through a rigorous curriculum and adherence to the Middlebury Language Pledge. By pledging to speak only the target language while abroad, students will have the best chance of acquiring fluency and actively engaging in the local environment. Participants take an area studies course, a one-on-one content-based tutorial, and two electives. They live with Chinese roommates on the campus of Yunnan University and may take part in excursions, volunteer work, and campus clubs and activities.

Students looking for more advanced language preparation prior to the start of the spring semester or who want to apply their enhanced language skills after the fall semester may be interested in the January term option in Beijing.

  • All course work is conducted entirely in Mandarin
  • Students adhere to the Middlebury College Language Pledge
  • Curriculum designed for high intermediate and advanced Chinese language students, featuring one-on-one, and small elective classes
  • Housing with a Chinese roommate in dormitories
  • Cocurricular activities: cooking, ping pong, martial arts, hip hop, bamboo flute, watercolor, etc.

Questions & Answers


based on 5 reviews
  • Academics 9.4
  • Support 8.6
  • Fun 8
  • Housing 7.6
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 5 of 5
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Cool Experience, Academically Challenging

As a language intensive, Middlebury China is probably one of the most challenging college level programs out there. Many of my peers felt the workload was often a little overwhelming, as we had to study a new Chinese lesson every two days. Although it says you are eligible to go on this program with two years of college level Chinese, it is strongly recommended that you partake in a summer intensive beforehand. The language pledge is taken quite seriously by most people, and everyone in the program my semester improved their Chinese greatly.
The teachers and staff on site are all friendly and extremely helpful, especially Lili, one of the main program coordinators.
The college is located in the cultural center of Kunming, and has many places you can walk or take a bus to quite easily.

How can this program be improved?
One of the classes you must take is a one-on-one with a Chinese graduate/PhD student who helps you write a 5000 word essay about a certain topic. I honestly didn't think this class was as helpful to the students that were on the lower levels, and the teachers don't have much experience teaching to foriegn students making the process more frustrating. I wish they would make this component an opt-out, and rather have a supplementary speaking/writing class.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Middlebury in Kunming

I would recommend this program to people dedicated to improving their Chinese language skills, and/or interested in carrying out an individual research project in Chinese. The academics are manageable but perhaps relatively rigorous compared to other study abroad programs. Kunming is a great city, and the province of Yunnan is beautiful: mountainous, good air quality, amazing rice fields. I loved that the program offered lots of opportunity for and encouraged travel, which was relatively easy and affordable to do within and around China. Something special about my experience was that I joined a pick-up ultimate frisbee team based out of Kunming that was composed of some American ex-pats and some locals. I played with them once a week and even went to a few tournaments with them around the country. It was a really unique and fun experience for me to be introduced to the frisbee culture in China! It also helped with my language skills to spend so much time with locals.

How can this program be improved?
I think the program could benefit from maybe hiring someone to work with the AD in doing whatever that job entails. Our AD seemed to have been really busy, often even traveling to meetings away from Kunming, and so wasn't always around to be a presence or offer support to the students.
Yes, I recommend this program
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My Time Abroad at MIC: Kunming

I attended MIC Kunming in the fall of 2016 during my junior year of college. Overall, this program/experience was extremely transformative for me. It was my first time in China, and while culture shock was indeed a real thing for me, I quickly got over it and found myself calling Kunming home within no time. The program is very well-organized, and is truly designed to help you improve your Chinese. The language pledge, which seemed daunting at first, is designed to facilitate this, as well as having a Chinese roommate. In addition, the teachers are all extremely passionate and really want to see you do well. Kunming is a beautiful city, with SO much to do, from hiking, biking, and badminton, to museums, temples, and concerts. The cafeteria food at the university is decent, but the surrounding area has tons of great restaurants. It is worth noting, however, that the program is VERY academically rigorous. Having all four classes in a semester be entirely in Chinese is no doubt a big change from what most college students are used to for a normal course-load, and definitely takes some adjusting to at first. Be prepared to memorize lots of characters each week. With that said, simply being so immersed in Chinese 24/7 for a semester will have an incredible impact on your language skills, and you'll see improvement in no time

How can this program be improved?
At times, I felt a little too bogged down with work, and felt I couldn't go out and do things on the weekend. My exploration of Kunming and all it has to offer was limited by the work-load. Luckily, I was able to spend some time on my own in the city after the program ended, and got some good sight-seeing in.
Yes, I recommend this program
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MIC Kunming

I attended MIC Kunming in Fall 2015 and had an awesome experience. Kunming is a beautiful city and, while not nearly as modern or Westernized as Shanghai or Beijing, really does have a slower pace and greater focus on leisure that made my experience abroad a pleasant one. I had never been to China before coming to Kunming and had only studied Chinese for a few years, so I found the program particularly challenging but fulfilling. Academics were undeniably rigorous; more so than I anticipated and sometimes to the exclusion of being able to do anything but study characters, but my Chinese improved by leaps and bounds.The language pledge was frustrating at times and living in China is by no means easy for the uninitiated Westerner, but it is by all means worth the challenge.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Great Experience during the maiden voyage of Midd-Kunming

I attended the program in Spring 2010 after already living in Kunming for six months. I had been stuck in an English-Chinese world that wasn't allowing my Chinese to progress any further. For me, the Middlebury language pledge was essential for improving my Chinese. I surrounded myself with locals and spent my free (non-study) time dancing and teaching dance in Green Lake Park. The immersion experience helped me to build a community of Han and minority friends in Kunming and I still go back to visit them occasionally.

Yes, I recommend this program

About Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad

The Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad feature 38 sites in 17 countries and are characterized by a focus on integration with the host culture, both linguistically and socially. In addition to taking academically rigorous courses, students are able...