CLI welcomes students of all ages, backgrounds, and language levels to apply for admission. While CLI has no minimum GPA requirement, the GPA of students currently attending or recently graduated from college will be considered. The majority of college-level students at CLI have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.
Although not required, beginning your Chinese language study prior to your arrival at CLI is a great way to hit the ground running. There are many Chinese language learning resources available online, including both free and paid services.
We encourage students who would like to pursue online study to enroll in CLI’s Online one-on-one courses for a seamless transition to other CLI programs upon arrival. We also recommend learning the basics of the pinyin system.
The truth is, it depends. Many students reach advanced proficiency within a year; others progress more slowly. The road to fluency depends on the focus each individual dedicates to learning and using Chinese every day and his/her knack for languages. Every student is different.
Moreover, defining fluency is not a straightforward endeavor. One can be conversationally fluent in Chinese, but unable to read or write. And even within literacy, the ability to recognize characters is significantly simpler than recalling and writing those same 汉字 by hand. Fortunately computers and smartphones make this task much easier.
The Chinese Ministry of Education has devised and refined a Chinese proficiency testing system, called HSK (Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì), that presents nine levels. HSK 1 requires knowledge of 150 characters; HSK 2 – 300; HSK 3 – 600; HSK 4 – 1200; HSK 5 – 2500; and HSK 6 – 5000 Chinese characters. While the system can be useful for goal setting and measuring progress, it primarily tests written and listening ability, and can’t fully capture the stages required to achieve the fluidity in conversation. Note that the HSK exam was revamped in March 2022.
Learning the Chinese language can be thought of as progressing up an inverted pyramid. At the first level, the range of everyday words is actually quite limited. Picking up beginner Chinese is straightforward and achievable. Learn the pronouns, numbers, question words, key nouns, verbs, and adjectives, and memorize and often practice a few key grammatical structures, and you’ll move on to the second level in no time. As you move up the inverted pyramid, the height between levels is always constant, yet the breadth of vocabulary and topics continues to expand.
Each year, CLI welcomes many students who start from 零基础 and surpass HSK 3 in 3-4 months and HSK 5 in 8-12 months. HSK 6 generally takes two or more years of focused study.
The spectrum of learning speeds and aims is broad, and each student must find and walk their own path. CLI’s mission is to provide the best guidance, resources, and environment possible for you to achieve your highest goals.
Aside from snow, Guilin’s weather covers most of the spectrum. Fall is the most moderate season, winter can be very chilly (but rarely below freezing), spring receives a good amount of rain, and summer is hot. Guilin offers all four seasons.
Because Guilin’s temperature and weather patterns cover a wide range, it is advised that you bring clothing to fit most weather possibilities. No clothing for snow will be needed, although Guilin can get quite cold in the winter.
Many students enjoy having clothing custom made by one of the many excellent and affordable tailors in Guilin. There are fabric markets throughout the city, and a suit or dress can be custom made for as little as 100 USD.
For specific packing information, please also reference CLI’s Pre-Departure Packet.
Students are advised to carry a pack of tissues at all times while in China, as many public restrooms do not provide toilet paper. A wide variety of common sanitation products (e.g. toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc.) can be bought at Guilin’s supermarkets. These include a variety of Western brands.
The voltage in China is 220, while in the US it is only 110. Most computer and smartphone chargers have built-in converters on their power adapters, but electric shavers and hair dryers often do not.
Check the voltage range on your device prior to your arrival – many electronics range from 110–240V, making them safe for use in most countries, including China. Not all plugs are compatible with Chinese outlets. If needed, a converter can be purchased in Guilin.
The majority of commonly used Western products can be found in Guilin.
Yes. Guilin’s international community includes people from the United States, England, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Holland, Poland, Switzerland, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Estonia, Nigeria, Algeria, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, and a variety of other countries.
That being said, Guilin is a great place to avoid contact with foreigners if so desired. It would be easy to spend an entire semester in Guilin without ever encountering a situation in which you need to speak English.
Guilin is very laid-back and virtually nowhere in town has a dress code (including restaurants and dance clubs). Most people go to weddings in jeans and a collared shirt.
That being said, people in Guilin do sometimes like to dress up when out on the town, and construction workers even wear suits and wingtip shoes on the job.
Guilin has several fabric markets and local tailors. A suit or dress can be custom made for as little as 50 USD. Bring fashion magazines, pictures, or the actual item with you if you want something replicated.
Yes, all CLI apartments and the CLI Center provide high speed wireless Internet, and many cafes and restaurants in Guilin have free WiFi. Internet speed in Guilin may not be at the same standard as your home country, but high speed 4G Internet is available in many places (including at the CLI Center).
If you do not want to bring your own computer to China, there are computer labs at GXNU and numerous 24-hour Internet cafes throughout Guilin. In addition, there are three public computers at the CLI Center available for student use.
According to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Chinese government blocks access to numerous websites in an effort to limit Chinese citizens' access to information out of step with government narratives.
Facebook, YouTube, Blogspot, Twitter, and other social networking and blogging sites cannot be accessed in China. In addition, some news and social and political advocacy sites, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, are also blocked in China.
Unobstructed access to the Internet can be attained through the use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that allows users to connect to proxy servers outside of China. These services range from free to over 50 USD per year. If you plan to use the Internet while in China, we highly recommend that you arrange a VPN prior to your arrival. Our recommended China VPN is Astrill, which we've found to be reliable for many years.
CLI fosters a relaxed, welcoming, inclusive learning environment and largely relies on the good faith of our students, teachers, administration, and broader community members to be mutually supportive and to conduct themselves in a respectful and respectable manner.
Our Standards of Conduct document provides insight into the various guidelines we present to our students and teachers at varying points during enrollment, orientation, and your CLI program.
Yes. CLI students will have access to hospitals that have English speaking doctors available. In addition, if needed and/or requested, our bilingual international staff will provide students with language support during hospital visits of any kind.
You are strongly encouraged to inform CLI of any pre-existing health conditions you may have prior to your arrival in Guilin. You will have an opportunity to do so when completing CLI's Dietary & Medical Form during your enrollment process. This will allow us to better assist should any related issues arise.
Some students choose to receive certain vaccinations before coming to China. Please consult your family doctor concerning pre-departure health checks and vaccinations.
While a minority of students choose to brush their teeth with bottled water in China, it is safe to use tap water. However, please note that while tap water in China goes through municipal purification processes, it is not potable. Brushing your teeth with tap water is safe, but drinking tap water is strongly discouraged.
Guilin is a remarkably safe city and a pleasant place to live. It is normal in Guilin for elementary school children to walk home from school in groups of two or more without parental supervision. Foreigners are treated particularly well, as they are viewed as guests in China. Guilin’s local residents are known to go out of their way to assist foreigners with any needs or concerns that may arise.
The majority of Western medicines, as well as many Eastern remedies, are conveniently available in many pharmacies and hospitals throughout Guilin. CLI team members are happy to help students purchase any specific medicines they made need, provided these medicines are available for purchase in China. In addition, CLI team members are available 24/7 to assist students in emergency situations.
We strongly discourage students from drinking tap water in China. Local Chinese do not drink tap water unless it has been boiled first. Bottled water is safe and easily accessible.
Yes. These services are provided free of charge to each CLI student. As soon as you have purchased your flight tickets, please complete CLI’s Guilin Arrival Form so that we can arrange a CLI representative to greet you at the airport.
CLI provides guidance, assistance, and advice for additional travel, but it is up to the student to make final travel and lodging arrangements. Guilin is a great hub to access the greater region, with non-stop flights to many major cities (Hong Kong, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, nearly every major city in mainland China, etc.) as well as bullet train access to many cities throughout China.
In the meantime, check out our in-house travel guides: Guilin Travel Guide, Yangshuo Travel Guide, Hainan Travel Guide, Nanjing Travel Guide, Xi'an Travel Guide, and Harbin Travel Guide.
The cost of living in China is significantly lower than in Europe, the United States, and many other countries. And the cost of living in Guilin is generally lower than in China’s larger cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
One of the luxuries of being a student at CLI is that you can live comfortably on 500–700 USD per month (depending on your lifestyle).
Many services that can be quite expensive elsewhere are amazingly affordable in Guilin; for example, massages (5 USD/hour), maid service (2 USD/hour), a meal at a nice restaurant (6 USD), taxi rides (3 USD almost anywhere in town), and so on.
Individual spending habits can vary greatly, but CLI students typically spend an average of about 70–100 USD per week in Guilin. For semester students, CLI recommends having ATM access to at least 1,500 USD at any given time throughout the semester.
ATMs are conveniently placed throughout the city of Guilin and on the Guangxi Normal University campus. As in the US and Europe, many ATMs charge a fee for each transaction. For long-term students, it is possible to set up an account at a Chinese bank in Guilin, although this process has become increasingly onerous in recent years.
As of this writing in spring 2023, the exchange rate is 6.87 RMB to 1 USD. The majority of Chinese banks provide currency exchange free of charge. Students must present their passport to the bank teller for this service.
Upon arrival, a CLI team member will greet you at the Guilin airport and escort you to your CLI apartment, homestay, or accommodations at the CLI Center. Your housing will be completely ready for you upon arrival.
Before your first day of class, CLI will provide you with a comprehensive Orientation meeting, introducing you to the city of Guilin and the CLI community. CLI will also facilitate a meeting with your host school’s staff to review and sign your teaching contract.
Finally, in conjunction with an English-speaking university staff member, you will be required to undergo a routine health examination. The health check-up is a simple examination that is required in order to secure your work (Z) visa. A CLI team member will accompany you during this process.
CLI provides all Immersion Program and Study Abroad in China students with assistance in obtaining a short-term (X2, ≤ 180 days) or long-term (X1, > 180 days) visa to China. Visa costs are the responsibility of the student and are not included in tuition fees.
Accepted students receive comprehensive visa assistance from CLI’s Director of Admissions. Please explore our Pre-Departure To-Do List and Chinese Visa Application Guide (X2) for further insight.
Yes. A visa represents permission by the government of your host country (in this case China) for you to enter that country and to reside there for a given period of time. All students should travel to Guilin on a tourist visa obtained from their local Chinese consulate.
The process is not difficult, but it can be bureaucratic and certain documents must be obtained before you can apply for your visa. For information on which Chinese Consulate is closest to you, please reference the website of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.