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Guilin: Our First Days in China (7/2 – 7/5)

It’s been a fabulous first few days for our Guilin students! Check out what we’ve been up to…

We spent most of our first day traveling to Guangdong, our gateway city. After we arrived, we celebrate Leah’s birthday with a cheesecake at dinner. Everyone learned how to sing Happy Birthday in Chinese to wish the birthday girl well!

The next day, we rode the bullet train to our host city, Guilin. We enjoyed the scenery along the way — particularly the beautiful green pointy peaks that make Guangxi Province’s landscape so distinctive.

07-03-2016 Guangdong Train View 3
Upon arrival at CLI, we met our teachers, got a tour of the school, and then went to our host family’s house or dorm to freshen up for the welcome dinner. We feasted on sour beef soup, roasted chicken, cabbage, steamed buns, and fresh fruit. Everyone is excited for our first day of class tomorrow!

07-03-2016 Guilin Welcome Dinner 3

On the 4th of July, we attended our first day of classes. Each student was evaluated and placed in a class appropriate to his or her skill level. Afterwards, we ate a delicious lunch of more traditional food and got tons of practice saying the names of what we were eating in Chinese. We then had a traditional calligraphy and painting class with a local calligraphy master! Afterwards, we had dinner in the city center before walking around the illuminated pagodas and bridges of the Two Rivers, Four Lakes site.

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Tuesday was quite the busy day! We started out the morning with class time in the new levels (3 classes of 2 students — great for personal attention and participation). We’ve already been able to see a drastic improvement in language skills! After class and a yummy lunch filled with colorful food (purple baozi!), we went to tour a local high school. There, we had conversations with teachers and students about the differences between the Chinese education system and education systems in other parts of the world. These dialogues were followed by a game of volleyball with the students, as well as a traditional team work exercise using boards similar to a three-legged race (except six-legged in this case!). After so much running around, the students got to experience their first Chinese foot massage; we also tried cupping, a traditional Chinese treatment that uses glass cups and fire to create a vacuum against the skin to release toxins in the body. We concluded our day’s activities by having dinner at a restaurant in one of the many caves in Guilin’s mountains, where the lively conversation focused on the many cultural differences we’ve witnessed so far.
*Stay tuned for more adventures from the SPI Guilin crew — and for regular daily updates, don’t forget to check out our Facebook!

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ABOUT SPI HIGH SCHOOL STUDY ABROAD

Since 1996, SPI High School Study Abroad offers intensive FrenchItalian and Spanish language immersion, cultural leadership and volunteer service summer programs in Spain, France, Italy, and Costa Rica.

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SPI Study Abroad
11149 Research Blvd. Suite 100
Austin, TX 78759

P: 512-502-7505
[email protected]

Copyright 2017 SPI Study Abroad | All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy & Terms

On-Site Supervision Team Abroad

We hire bilingual high school teachers, university professors, and caring local staff who, as a team, serve as international “moms and dads” throughout the program. Directors actively participate in all aspects of the immersion experience: helping with housing adjustments, checking in on classes, and making sure students are taking advantage of the wonderful excursion and activity opportunities. All SPI staff go through extensive reference checks.

Training & Experience

Directors are selected based on their experience working with teenagers in an international setting, their ability to communicate fluently in the language of study, and their academic & professional background. All on-site staff go through an intensive training process.

Daily Supervision

Students are expected to be respectful of their directors’ guidelines and abide by the SPI standards of conduct at all times. SPI directors and program staff are available 24 hours a day. Directors check in with students on a daily basis in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings; they also frequently monitor all aspects of each student’s progress. Homestays and residence directors are contacted to learn how students are adjusting, and to handle any concerns. Daily curfews are enforced.

Student Behavior Expectations

Since 1996, we have proudly attracted an academically-minded student body focused on improving their language skills and growing from cultural experiences. At SPI, we take our role as teachers seriously — we recognize that we are responsible for guiding students through one of their most life-changing experiences. We expect students not only to abide by our standards of conduct at all times, but also to serve as ambassadors of their local communities, schools, and cities.

No Alcohol Policy

SPI maintains a strict policy against the use of alcohol. Directors check in with students in the evenings; however, parents are expected to review our standards of conduct with their children and set clear family expectations prior to the start of the program with regards to their behavior abroad.

Afternoon Elective Activities

Our meaningful afternoon elective activities make local culture, art, architecture, museums, sports, and attractions come to life! Each program offers a variety of engaging activities designed to combine serious fun with truly inspiring “once in a lifetime” experiences. Electives are not included in the program price, and we suggest students budget $100 per week for participation in these incredible learning experiences.

Common Afternoon Electives

CULTURAL: Cooking, Dance, Art & Architecture, Museum & Theater Visits, Local Sporting & Cultural Events

SPORTS: Surfing, Volleyball, Soccer, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Hikes & Walks

ENRICHMENT: Photography, College Prep (Essay Writing, Admissions Prep), Photography, Guest Speakers

Sample Travel Excursions

SPAIN: Bilbao, Pamplona, Santander, San Sebastian, Guernika, Biarritz (France), Comillas, Picos de Europa

FRANCE: Bordeaux, Bayonne, Anglet, San Sebastian (Spain), St. Jean de Luz, Pyrenees Mountains

COSTA RICA: Liberia, Cloud Forest, Puntarenas, Rincon de la Vieja, Tamarindo Beach

ITALY: Florence, Orvieto, San Gimignano, San Vincezo, Castiglione della Pescaia

Our Screening & Selection Process

Students live with roommates in a local homestay or student residence that is experienced in hosting foreign students. SPI has worked with most participating homestays and student residences for a number of years, and they understand students are there to learn the language and experience the culture. SPI diligently screens each homestay and student residence facility with the following in mind: safety, location, cleanliness, and previous experience hosting students.

HOMESTAY EXPECTATIONS

Most homestays have hosted students for many years and take their jobs and duties as cultural ambassadors very seriously. Our foreign schools also work with each family on a year-round basis to ensure a positive experience is had by each student. It is critical to understand that most homestays come from humble means and different dynamics.

Location of Housing

All housing options are located within a 10-30 minute commute from the school. Students will walk or take the local bus, which is a safe and normal way for students their age to get around in our host cities. The majority of our housing options are located in the same areas where students will be close to each other.

Evening Curfews

Student curfews are set based on what a culturally appropriate weekday and weekend curfew would be for teenagers in the country of study. This is normally between 10 PM – 11 PM on weekdays and a little later on the weekends depending on location and group dynamic. As an important safety measure, program staff diligently monitor student curfews. Specific curfews are listed on each program page for your reference. 

Typical Housing Dynamics

Students are well supported in all housing options and are provided with: meals, a living and study space, laundry service or facilities, linens and towels. It is fundamental that students have an open mind to trying new foods and living in an environment different than “home” to benefit from this transformative experience!

HOMESTAY EXPECTATIONS
Although SPI homestays come in all shapes and sizes, the majority are older couples or single/widowed women in their 50s – 60s who have extra room in their home and are eager to host students. We have found this dynamic provides the best support, the most interaction, and the most culturally rich experience. Some homestays do have children, but students should keep in mind that homestays with children are busier and often offer less interaction — much like a busy American family.

Language Course Overview

The language courses focus on developing communication skills by simulating real-life situations through interactive class activities that include writing, oral expression, film, music, food, and literature.

> 2 Hours – Grammatical Concepts

> 1-2 Hours – Conversation, Culture, Literature, Film, etc.

> Small class sizes with levels 1 through AP/IB

College Credit Opportunity

SPI uses foreign universities and accredited language institutes for coursework abroad. These institutions provide high school students, upon successful completion of their courses, with an official transcript that they may use to petition college credit from their future university or college. Official transcripts are first sent to SPI in September, and then we will mail an official copy of the transcript in a sealed envelope to each participant. You will mail the official transcript packet directly to your U.S. university once you are enrolled.

Credit Hours vs. Credit Granted

Most SPI language immersion programs give 30-80 contact hours, or classroom hours, enabling for a potential of up to 1-6 semester college credit hours by your university. Contact hours are treated differently at every school. Some schools will grant specific class credit for the hours (e.g., Spanish), although most give a general foreign language or elective credit. Normally, 15 Contact/Class Hours = 1 College Credit Hour.

IMPORTANT:  Due to the nature of college credit granting by each individual U.S. university, it is impossible for SPI to guarantee credit for any student.