Guilin Summer 2 — 1st Week At A Glance

Week 1 is a wrap but we have had so many incredible adventures! See below to follow along with our journey


Day 1:
Flights had scattered arrival times into the host city of Guilin but by the combined efforts of SPI and CLI, all of the students were welcomed to Guilin.

Day Two:
After a good night’s sleep the group began the day with breakfast before we went over to CLI (Chinese Language Institute) to have our orientation. Students got a tour of the building, Chinese cell phones and learned how to use WeChat so that they could communicate with the program supervisors whenever they needed. The first lunch in China was an exercise in using and mastering chopsticks. Regardless of what skills students had with chopsticks before, they will be pros by the time they leave!

Following lunch, the orientation process continued with a scavenger hunt to get the students bearings in the city. They were tasked to find a list of unique Chinese sights and take a photo with them (a lucky haircut, Engrish signs, 4 people on a scooter, etc). The group who got the most points would win a free massage! The students were assisted by the CLI interns as they went on their quest. When they returned they were laughing and smiling!

That night everyone in a homestay met their local family hosts at dinner. The food was delicious and consisted of fresh tofu, sour and spicy noodles, man tou and other yummy dishes.
Day 3:

Students began classes with a placement test to distribute the students to their appropriate level. Classes are anywhere from one on one to three students per teacher so students get the maximum amount of participation and personalized instruction.

After class and another delicious lunch we went to a newly opened trampoline park to jump around, do flips, jump high enough to slam dunk and stick to a Velcro wall. Jumping around was hard work though so some rest happened as well.

The next challenge was to then climb to the top of Chuan Shan, a local mountain with a gorgeous view of Guilin and the surrounding area. While the hike was all stairs up the side of the mountain, the view was worth it. Combining a trampoline park and a short but steep mountain hike definitely made for the ultimate “leg day”, as the students said. After exercising so much, the students enjoyed a dinner in a cave where people bottle and store their own bai jiu, a Chinese style rice wine). While we did not drink any, it was fun to learn about the culture. What a day!

Day 4:
The morning began with classes again, followed by lunch on the Cultural Walking Street, where students began to order on their own. Then the students got to have a special Taijiquan (known as Tai Chi in the West) with a local master. The point of Taiji is to try and return your inner self to “zero” a neutral and peaceful place where a practitioner is focused in the moment and not about the perfection of the forms. The students all practiced in a focused manner, even in the heat. After so many slow moving forms, however, a quick round of ultimate frisbee was played before dinner at a local Xinjiang restaurant, which has food representing the Chinese Muslim minority called Uyghurs.

In their free time, many of the students play ping pong or Mah Jong together in the CLI student activity room. Occasionally they play other sports like soccer, pool, ultimate frisbee or games like Cards Against Humanity. Whatever they end up doing they seem to be having a good time, especially playing ping pong!

Day 5:

During class, students have started to prepare Chinese songs for our karaoke (KTV) outing later this week. Once class and lunch were done, the students were bussed our to the Guilin Tea Research Institute. While wearing traditional hats, students harvested their own tea leaves and learned what distinguishes the 6 different types of tea (basically what part and how early you harvest different parts of a tea plant – the sprouts make white tea, sprouts with two young leaves make green tea, etc). The harvest done, the guides taught the group the other steps in the process to make tea. Following this introduction, students were able to sample tea in a traditional tea ceremony.

Dinner was a slightly less traditional Chinese fare: pizza, but the students enjoyed the comfort food.
Day 6:
Classes continued today, followed by a trip to the market place. Students were given tips on how to haggle – the walk away tactic, the vocabulary, and estimated prices of products – and then set loose! They came back with belts, T-shirts, bags, shoes, and stuffed animals. Good haul!

Dinner was at a beef hot pot restaurant where students cooked their own meat, noodles and vegetables in large boiling pots of broth. Once they had eaten their fill (and the rain stopped), students toured the Two Rivers, Four Lakes Scenic Area, known for its beautifully illuminated Sun and Moon  

Day 7:

Once classes wrapped up for the day, students enjoyed a delicious lunch at our favorite local restaurant He Tian Park. After some free time and errands, the group made a trip to a local Buddhist temple by CLI. While there, students learned about the Cultural Revolution and how temples like this were torn down because of their connections with old feudal ideals. Shrines and other cultural establishments have been rebuilt since they are now no longer deemed bad for society.

The temple visited, students then went onto dinner, shopping and everyone’s favorite Chinese activity: Karaoke! KTV, as it is known locally, is the best way to do karaoke because people rent their own rooms with friends to sing instead of singing in public spaces. Everyone had a wonderful time singing Chinese and American songs. Students requested that we do it again soon!

Day 8:

Students spent the day with their homestay families and those in the dorm had daystay families for the day. Some students made their own dumplings, went to exotic historical sites, and talked in Chinese with their hosts, to name a few of the activities.

A Life-changing Experience!

Get ready to experience and SPI Abroad program yourself. Learn more about our programs or request more information today.

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Request Your Catalog Today.

Fill out the form below and we will send you a catalog and get in touch. Please note all fields are required.

A Life-changing Experience!

Get ready to experience and SPI Abroad program yourself. Learn more about our programs or request more information today.

Request Your Catalog Today.

Fill out the form below and we will send you a catalog and get in touch. Please note all fields are required.

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.


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!

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.