The Chinese Language Institute (CLI) in Guilin is truly a hidden treasure. While I would like it to remain hidden (for purely selfish reasons), when asked if I’d write a few paragraphs for them about my stay last year I couldn’t possibly say no.
When I first signed up for a 2-month stint I did have my doubts. Was Guilin the right city for me? Would one on one lessons mean a life of solitude? Was CLI a scam? All of these doubts however, quickly faded the instant my plane touched down in Guilin, almost three hours late. There was someone waiting at the airport ready to pick me up and I was quickly passed a mobile phone, an information pack and swept away. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t swept away into a dark alley to have my organs harvested, but to the warm and welcoming family that is CLI.
As soon as I arrived I was made to feel right at home. The staff, teachers and other students quickly became my adopted family. One on one lessons were not a life of solitude, but a fantastic way to learn at your own pace and ensure you learnt what you want to learn. For me, that was the ability to be able to speak and read, which meant that those lessons that were dedicated to writing were turned into extra speaking and comprehension practice. And with all the extra activities CLI organises, including trips to regional villages, swimming and badminton, dinners, and my personal favourite Sunday soccer (thank you Tristan!) there was no chance for solitude.
Guilin is an amazing city, nestled in amongst breathtaking limestone mountains, and a short bus trip to Yang Shuo or Long Ji rice terraces will allow you to take in spectacular scenery and see traditional villages, farms and Chinese life. However, it’s not the amazing location, the first-class lessons or the magnificent events and outings that make CLI the treasure it is. That is reserved for the staff and teachers, all of whom are some of the most friendly and warm hearted people you’ll ever be lucky enough to encounter. They will make sure your stay is the wonderful experience you want it to be.
I honestly, could not praise CLI highly enough and would definitely recommend it to anyone out there that is interested in not just learning Chinese, but having a once in a lifetime adventure and making some of the best friends you’ll ever meet. For me, I hope to be back soon and make it a twice in a lifetime adventure.
The AO Team
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