We’re finally here!

After long, long journies to the gateway city of Guangzhou, the 2017 SPI China students were met by Program Directors Aubrey Groves and Susan Pan. Everyone did their best to adjust to the time difference through the first delicious meal of Chinese food before getting a good night’s rest.

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Following a traditional Chinese breakfast of noodles, dim sum and congee and some western dishes, the group hit the road to catch our bullet train to Guilin! Our students were in awe of the size of the train station and enjoyed their snacks on the scenic smooth ride of the train through the mountains of Guangdong and Guangxi provinces.

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The karst mountains shrouded in forests of bamboo inspired brush paintings of yore and Instagram photos of today. Upon arrival in Guilin, we made our way to the Chinese Language Institute, our partner school, and had an orientation meeting before eating a delicious dinner with the teachers at the Shuimofang (Waterfall) Restaurant.

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We sampled such delicacies as freshly made tofu, roasted chicken, mantou (steamed buns), spicy beeg soup with sweet potato noodles, and pumpkin with cheese. The meal was a hit and the Chinese conversation began to flow!

Monday was our first day of classes! The students were both excited and nervous to start the speaking, reading, and writing classes, but were put at ease since they had already met their teachers the night before. After a brief evaluation, the classes will be finalized and students will dive in to learn at their particular level in small classes with expert teachers. Not only will the students be learning more colloquial Chinese, but they will also be learning to sing Chinese songs for the KTV (karaoke) outing later on in the trip. We have challenged them to wear the CLI red bracelets that read: 今天我只说中文 (Jin tian wo zhi shuo zhongwen), which means, “Today I will only speak in Chinese.”

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After classes, the students visited another Chinese restaurant and begin learning how to order food on their own before we explore downtown Guilin by completing a scavenger hunt! Stay tuned for more updates in the coming days!

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