Nicole Figley, from Strayer University, USA, joined Lotus Free Homestay program for 12 weeks in 2005

Dear Lotus Study,

I want to thank you for giving myself and others the opportunity to actually live the Chinese culture during our stay in Beijing and study of Mandarin. Before coming, I knew the home stay you offered would allow me to truly experience life in Beijing, but now that my stay is coming to a close I am even more aware of its benefits. After speaking with other foreign students studying Mandarin in China, the difference between living on a campus surrounded by foreign students and living with a Chinese family is extremely evident when comparing the level of Chinese language ability (especially comfort when speaking) and also cultural understanding. They join me in recommending your program to anyone interested in studying Mandarin in the future.

Life in Beijing, interacting with Chinese everyday, has been incredible. Almost everyone I meet wants to talk to me and welcome me to their country. While many of them want to practice English, everyone is so proud of their country's culture and language that they are very eager to teach me everything they can and appreciate my effort to speak Chinese. Everyone has been incredibly hospitable, making sure I am always comfortable, happy, and full!!

My home stay family was a perfect match for me. I am lucky to have been placed with them; I have felt comfortable from the first day when I received a very warm welcome. All anxieties about my first time in China disappeared. While they too wanted to improve their English, they have been extremely helpful in my language study. We have sincerely enjoyed our time together, and made learning English and Chinese a lot of fun. Luckily, they had a cell phone for me upon arrival, and they have not only shared their home, but also their family and friends. I was fortunate enough to go on a trip with their family to the beach, and they were all very caring. My three-year-old ˇ°Chinese nephewˇ± has learned a lot of English and is the best Chinese teacher I have ever met! Their friends also took me in as if we had grown up together, teaching me about their jobs and taking me to different tourist sites around Beijing. I don't doubt that we will always be in touch. I am already planning my returnˇ­it's the only way I can leave with peace of mind! Everyone has been very patient and helpful as I have become acquainted with everything from using chopsticks to finding my way around the city through public transportation. The cultural lessons I have also learned are invaluable.

Lotus Study, your support has exceeded my expectations, and I am very thankful. I was greeted in the airport by very friendly faces that offered to assist me in anything, and you have gone out of your way to ˇ°check-upˇ± on me and remind me that you are there for anything I may need. I had a perfect experience with my family, but I don't doubt immediate response from the Lotus Study Beijing staff had there been any problems. I am also very thankful for the teaching position you found for me. Teaching English part-time has been an amazing experience, and I think I have learned as much as my students. The children are a lot of fun to work with, and have given me yet another reason to return to China. The extra spending money has been very helpful, too!

I look forward to working with you next year! Thank you very much for finding me a wonderful host family, providing me support I can have confidence in, finding me a teaching position, and giving me the opportunity to meet such great people. I have had an unforgettable experience, and I really appreciate all Lotus Study in the U.S. and Beijing have done for me!

Sincerely, Nicole Figley