Hello. I'm only reviewing Rustic Pathway's High School Language-Learning program in China because this is the only trip I have been on but I would assume that other programs have similar qualities. I want to start off by saying that this program was so amazing, I didn't have high expectations going into this trip and so the trip was so much more than anything I could have expected. This program is great for first-time travelers, it is very structured and the guides make sure that you have everything that you need. That said, you do need to know how to be flexible and independent.
Usually, each day went like this:
8:30-11:30: Chinese Class
11:30 - 12:15: Free Time
12:15 - 9:00: Scheduled and Guide-Lead Activity (including lunch & dinner)
And after the first couple of days, you need to be able to get yourself to and from the classes and and be able to handle yourselves in the morning and past 9:00pm.
Now for the actual review of the program.
There are three things I loved about this program:
- improving my Chinese
- supportive guides
- making friends
There is honestly very little that I would want to change about this particular program. The Chinese classes in the morning were very small, effective and fast-paced. People don't use Chinese outside of class as much as I would have liked, but you still need to talk to waiters, hotel staff, cashier ect in Chinese. Throughout this trip I got significantly better in actually speaking Chinese and communicating as opposed to just translating sentences on a piece of paper.
The guides were also amazing on my program, they truly seemed as if they cared about the kids on the program and really worked hard so that we could have a fun time. Also, since it is a rather small group there is a lot of individualized attention (kinda). For example, I got bitten by a bug that caused my feet to start blistering (I was the only one who this happened to, no need to worry about it) and they immediately helped me; allowing me to sit out of certain activities, giving us more free-time and they took me to the doctors while the other kids were in Chinese class. This type of support definitely made the trip more enjoyable and made me more relaxed because I felt that I was safe.
Now, I know that people won't believe me when I say this (I never believed other people when they do) but you really do make good friends on this trip. I am usually the loner in a group of people and that's what I expected when I went on this trip. But I ended up making two very close friends who I got along great with. A majority of the people on this trip were open-minded and friendly and wanted to make new friends as well. You get really close with the others on the trip and is a great way to make friends from all over the USA. Don't worry about if you aren't going with a friend, most people aren't either, as long as you are nice and willing to make friends, you are sure to find friends on this trip.