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Language Immersion in Southern China

- Kathryn

It has been almost three weeks since I left the comfort of Singapore, land of air-con, taxis, and fabulous food, and set off to China, the land of no Facebook, no Twitter, no Youtube, and pathetically slow Google-everything. (Thank you, Great Firewall.) I think my dorm is 8 square meters. Maybe.

Nevertheless, I’ve had a swell time in this self-prescribed prison cell known as Keats School, Kunming, China. The food at the school is good. The other students are interesting character studies. And, of course, the teachers are just what I expected: knowledgeable, chipper, and patient. By the end of my five weeks here, I will have packed in well over a semester’s worth of material.

“Adorable” police?

This photo was taken on the first Friday, the first day I actually left the building! There is an obsession with cuteness in this city. This little police whatsit looked like a toy! The cuteness extends to odd corporate practices. The workers (including the cooks) at the store across the street congregate every morning at 9:30 outside for an inspiring speech, and synchronized stretching/dancing. The police squads seem to stay clear of the dancing, and opt for morning tai chi or relaxed martial arts.

A new Kunming

Prepare yourselves guys. Kunming is going to be a happening place in two years. Based on what fellow travelers have said, just the past five years have seen drastic development. Many buildings are being torn down to make room for skyscrapers and new apartment complexes are sprouting up. This photo was taken at dusk of the nearest metro-station-to-be. In two years, Kunming will finally have a metro running through the entire city. Hopefully that will clear the streets of all the motorbikes.

Still in between modernity and the past, it is possible to walk into a Louis Vuitton store across the street from where you bought your local, $2 lunch.

Who should come to Keats

Keats School is for anyone who is serious about learning Mandarin, but wants to stay away from major city centers such as Beijing and Shanghai. You look out for yourself over here, so I don’t suggest anyone under 17 traveling here by themselves! That said, I’ve now met three families who traveled from the US together.

You can check out the school’s website here: keatsschool.org

PS: I’m now on day 18 with no Facebook, Youtube, or Twitter.

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