Amanda Wong, from the University of California, Berkley, USA, joined Lotus 4 weeks summer program in 2006.
I have only good words to use to describe my Lotus experience. First, the staff, both in the U.S. and in Beijing, was exceedingly helpful. Any question of mine was always promptly and thoroughly answered. Most important, the staff seemed to genuinely care about even our slightest concerns and offered immediate help when needed.
My host family was also excellent. They made me feel at home right away and always offered me more than generous portions of food. I feel that it would have been difficult for me to get the whole immersion experience by only taking classes at BLCU, as the foreign students normally use their own language once class gets out, but by having a host family to come home to every night, direct application of the lessons learned in class was immediately available. I also had a unique experience of living with a university English teacher, who was able to effectively explain more complicated parts of Chinese usage to me. Also, as we were both interested in the process of learning languages, we had many discussions about language acquisition and the differences between learning English versus Chinese.
Having completed this program I am by no means fluent in Mandarin. But at first barely able to utter basic phrases, I have significantly advanced, now confident enough to converse in any daily situation. This experience, although short, has given me a strong foundation for further Mandarin study.
I hope you are doing well. Thanks again for all your help during my 4 weeks stay.