Student life in Yangshuo in 2020 was not what I expected. It was supposed to be only a couple of weeks of learning Chinese at Omeida Chinese Academy. Instead, it turned out to be an amazing year (and still counting) of precious memories, beautiful discoveries and personal achievements. We all come from different parts of the world. And we all decided to come to China for a reason. Perhaps we share the same goal of learning Chinese. Or maybe it was to explore this vast country step by step. Either way, we can’t deny that recent times have been incredibly tough for many. However, last year has been a blessing in disguise for some.
Student Life in Yangshuo in 2020
Take our student’s story as an example. Hannah was a fresh university graduate and a new member of expats in China. She had planned to learn Chinese in Yangshuo before starting her job in a bigger city. She told us that she did research before traveling by searching for images and videos about Yangshuo. It looked like a relatively small, magical and picturesque town in Southern China, and she was excited to visit.
Well, that excitement didn’t last for long. The day she arrived here (end of January last year) was the first day of lockdown in Yangshuo. As she was greeting “hi” to the other students, they were rushing out with their luggage waving goodbye. Hannah was the only new student for a couple of months. This was not what Hannah had in mind. Everything was closed and there were no people on the streets.
Nonetheless, she attended the online classes until Omeida was allowed to operate again. Her Mandarin Chinese level was that of a total beginner. She had never learned Chinese before, so it was good she could have one-on-one classes in March. According to Hannah her stay in Yangshuo wasn’t disappointing. On the contrary, she’s truly thankful and lucky to have this opportunity. Learning Chinese in a tranquil town surrounded by magnificent mountains and radiant rivers. She would often rent a bike or a scooter and drive to Yulong River to take pictures. Other days, she would climb up the TV Tower to catch the sunrise or sunset. All while drinking milk tea whenever possible.
Omeida Chinese Academy in 2021
Omeida Chinese Academy relocated to a brand new building earlier this year! It’s taller and more spacious than the previous one. With five floors plus a rooftop with an amazing view, more than a dozen classrooms, a sports room, a lounge area with a big flatscreen TV, there’s enough space for everyone. During break time, some of us sit in the lounge area to do self-study, read books or chat.
Some of us were lucky to be able to study here in the new building. We know many past students hold the previous building dear to their hearts. But don’t worry. A familiar face has moved in and turned it into a cozy, modern restaurant and café: Simple Peach. It’s now even closer, so if you are a returning or a new student be sure to check it out!
We’ve heard quite a few Omeida students describe their stay in Yangshuo as an “enriching and educational holiday”. I myself try to attend all the weekly student activities. I believe that is one of the best ways to immerse myself in the Chinese culture.
One of my favorite activities is the culture class that’s held every Wednesday. I’ve stayed here for about a year and the teachers still haven’t run out of topics to teach. They can range from Chinese public holidays, the art of Chinese calligraphy, and all the way to how to make dumplings. The culture classes that Omeida offers are definitely worth attending. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn more about China.
Although I love learning about Chinese culture inside the school, I love to spend time outdoors exploring new parts of Yangshuo. Every Saturday a new activity awaits! I am always excited to join my classmates to do something fun and adventurous. We’ve visited ancient villages, tea plantations, rice terraces, caves and mountains, and we’ve gone kayaking and zip lining. Their short but fun-filled trips are definitely worth signing up for.
Whether it’s the culture classes, weekend activities or hanging out with my language partner, I think Omeida over time has managed to bring students from all walks of life together in Yangshuo. I’ve created so many precious memories and lifelong friends during my stay at Omeida.
The accommodation types that Omeida offer range from a twin shared dorm room in which you will share with a student from the English school, a private single dorm room, a luxury single room, to a hotel private room. They’re basic and minimal with A/C, hot water and the best of all, a very short distance to school.
Omeida Chinese Academy has been so helpful with visa assistance, especially during uncertain times. They were always updated on the latest news, so I could rest assured. Prior to the pandemic, they have years of experience assisting students from all around the world with their visas. They are more than happy to answer your questions.
Let’s move on to the question you might be wondering about. Their lessons. What kind of courses do they have and what’s my experience? The courses you can take on-site are Standard, Intensive, Part-Time, HSK Program, and Private. Also, you can choose to take classes Online either in private or in a small group. The details of each course can be found here. It might be of help in case you’re not sure which course is the best for you.
Due to the strict regulations during the pandemic, the school offered me two choices. I could take lessons online (which I chose) or wait until the school could resume business as usual. They use ClassIn, a teaching software platform, to conduct their online lessons, which are relatively more affordable and flexible.
At first, I thought it worked pretty well. But as a visual learner, I felt like I needed to be in a classroom in order to learn the Chinese language properly. After about a month of lockdown, the school was given the green light to resume classes. However, we all still had to check our body temperatures, wear masks and not form big gatherings.
The Standard course was just the right amount of time for me. I had three 45-minute lessons in the morning and then I had the afternoon for myself to do homework. During the rest of the day, I would review what I’d learned in class and do my homework. I also went on long hikes listening to Chinese podcasts and songs.
Other Students’ Experience
Different students take different courses depending on their situations. A fellow student here at Omeida wanted to learn as much as possible but had limited time. Therefore he decided to do the Intensive Course for a couple of weeks. According to him, the pace of learning truly lived up to its name. Intensive, yes, but comprehensive and in-depth at the same time. On the other hand, when another student finished her intensive course, she wished for an easier pace of life and learn at her own pace while enjoying the beauty of Yangshuo.
If you have a limited budget, you can choose to do volunteering. This is in exchange for free accommodation and meals from the canteen. Many of our past students have done this.
As mentioned above, you can volunteer for Omeida in exchange for free accommodation and free meals at the canteen. This was a perfect choice for me because I not only wanted to save money but also gain more experience. I’ve
volunteered at the English corner by speaking English for an hour a day with students from the English school. Also, I’ve volunteered in the marketing department doing various tasks such as blog writing and taking photos. Besides
volunteering I had plenty of time to discover and travel around Yangshuo, so I highly recommend you consider this option.
There’s a very popular saying that “Guilin’s landscape is the best under heaven”. However, did you know that this landscape is actually located in Yangshuo? Words can’t explain how breathtakingly beautiful the scenery is. I consider myself extremely lucky to wake up every morning to a view like this. Even those who’ve stayed here for years still get amazed every time they go for a hike. Yangshuo is an ideal place to stay for students who want to escape the busy city life and just relax. Here you can enjoy fresh air and outdoor adventures such as rock climbing and bicycling.
However, rural as it is, Yangshuo’s attraction of visitors world-wide has also bred a lively night scene. During the weekends, we often go together to Marina’s Encounter Bar or Demo Bar to chat and get to know each other better. We also have class dinners in West Street every now and then. There are restaurants with Western cuisine in and around West Street in Yangshuo. I finally realized why so many foreigners call this place their second home. Many expats in China choose Yangshuo as their annual getaway. We have a comprehensive guide of what to do in Yangshuo. Check out our blog post!