Courses & Admissions

1. What are CLI's admission requirements?

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.

2. Can I earn university credit that will count toward my degree? (For students still in college.)
Yes. University-level credit is awarded to all China Study Abroad students upon satisfactory completion of CLI coursework. At the end of each Study Abroad session/semester, Guangxi Normal University (GXNU) awards official transcripts that are transferable to most colleges and universities. If interested in earning university credit for the Immersion Program, please contact CLI’s Admissions Manager.
3. Does CLI require prior Chinese language study?
No. Students of all levels are welcome to apply.
4. What do I do once I’m accepted to CLI?
After receiving notification of acceptance into a CLI program, you will receive a link to CLI's Pre-Departure To-Do List. This checklist includes comprehensive information detailing the enrollment process and important considerations about studying in China.
5. Should I begin studying Chinese before I arrive in Guilin?

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.

6. Can I arrive before my courses start?
Yes, but housing will not be provided until two days before orientation begins. CLI will provide airport pick-up and drop-off service even if you wish to arrive early, and can also provide housing in the CLI dorms at a daily rate of 100 RMB per night upon availability. Please contact us for more information.
7. Can I begin CLI's Immersion Program on any date of my choosing?
As your Chinese Immersion Program coursework is entirely one-on-one, your session can begin on any Monday of your choosing (with the exception of February, due to the Chinese New Year. All other programs (Study Abroad, China Seminars, and Teach in China) have pre-specified start dates.
8. How long will it take me to become fluent in Chinese?

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.

Daily Life

1. What is the weather like in Guilin?

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.

2. What sort of clothing should I bring?

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.

3. What type of personal toiletries are available in China?

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.

4. How will I do my laundry?
Every CLI apartment is equipped with a washing machine, but no dryer. Throughout all of China, hanging clothes in the sun and soft breeze remains the method of drying clothes. There are four washing machines and one dryer at the CLI Center.
5. Can I have my clothes professionally dry cleaned in Guilin?
Yes. There are several dry cleaners throughout the city, and one of them is only a five minute walk from the CLI Center.
6. What voltage is used in China? Should I bring a converter?

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.

7. Can I buy Western products in Guilin?

The majority of commonly used Western products can be found in Guilin.

8. Does Guilin have an international community?

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.

9. Do I need to bring evening wear to Guilin?

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.

10. Does CLI housing have free Internet access?

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.

11. Are some websites blocked in China? What is the "Great Firewall"?

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.

12. Does CLI maintain Standards of Conduct within its community?

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.

Health & Safety

1. Are English speaking doctors available in China?

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.

2. I have pre-existing health conditions. Should I notify CLI of these prior to my arrival?

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.

3. Do I need vaccinations before coming to China?

Some students choose to receive certain vaccinations before coming to China. Please consult your family doctor concerning pre-departure health checks and vaccinations.

4. Can I brush my teeth using tap water in China?

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.

5. Is Guilin a safe city?

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.

6. Does CLI recommend international health insurance coverage for its students?
All CLI students are strongly encouraged to have international health insurance coverage during their stay in China. If you would like insurance recommendations, please contact CLI’s Admissions Manager for more information.
7. What if I need to buy medicine in Guilin?

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.

Eating & Drinking

1. Can I drink tap water?

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.

2. I’m a vegetarian/vegan. Will I be OK in Guilin?
One of CLI’s co-founders has been a vegan in Guilin for over a decade. There are several vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the city. When at non-vegetarian/vegan restaurants and dining halls, students must sometimes insist that they do not eat meat. All beginner students who are vegetarian/vegan will be immediately taught the basic vocabulary needed to make sure they are able to order a vegetarian/vegan meal.
3. Is it safe to eat street food in China?
While many students choose to eat street food, CLI does not encourage students to do so. Because many street food vendors are unlicensed, and sanitary practices and food quality cannot be guaranteed, eating street food is not advised.
4. I have allergies to certain foods. Will it be a problem avoiding such food products in China?
Please note that CLI must be made aware of any allergies or health conditions prior to your arrival in order to best accommodate your needs. All beginner students with allergies will be immediately taught the basic vocabulary needed to communicate this information in Chinese. Students with food allergies can easily avoid problems by communicating well and paying careful attention to what they eat, as they would in their home country.

Travel & Arrival

1. There are no international flights directly to Guilin. How will I make travel arrangements?
The three main international airports in China are in Beijing (PEK), Shanghai (PVG), and Hong Kong (HKG). From each of these airports there are daily flights to Guilin’s airport (KWL). If you book your ticket through an international service, you can purchase your entire travel arrangements from your home location to your destination in Guilin. A CLI representative will greet you at the airport, and CLI will provide you free transportation to the city.
2. Does CLI provide airport pick-up and drop-off?

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.

3. How do I get around in Guilin? Are there taxis and public transportation?
Guilin’s public bus system is very convenient, with stops close to the CLI Center. In addition, Guilin’s taxis are very inexpensive relative to the US dollar. You can travel to most places within the city for less than 5 USD, and a ride downtown costs only about 2 USD.
4. I would like to travel to other parts of China and/or Asia while I’m studying. Can CLI help?

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 GuideYangshuo Travel GuideHainan Travel GuideNanjing Travel GuideXi'an Travel Guide, and Harbin Travel Guide.

Cost of Living

1. What is the cost of living in Guilin?

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.

2. How much spending money should I bring?

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.

3. Can I use ATMs in Guilin?

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.

4. How does money exchange work in China?

As of this writing in summer 2024, the exchange rate is 1 EUR to 7.82 RMB, or 1 USD to 7.23 RMB. The majority of Chinese banks provide currency exchange free of charge. Students must present their passport to the bank teller for this service.

Teach English in China

1. What requirements are there for CLI's Teach in China program?
In order to qualify for CLI’s Teach in China program, applicants must be at least 24 years old and must hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a four-year university. In accordance with standards set by CLI and its partners, as well as the Chinese government, preference is given to applicants with TEFL or TESL certification. There is a range of TEFL/TESL certification options, and we do not prefer any particular method of certification over another.
2. Does CLI provide work (Z) visas?
Your host school provides your work (Z) visa. Teachers should travel to China on a short-term tourist (L) visa, which will be exchanged for a six-month or one-year work visa upon arrival.
3. Does CLI offer teaching positions in other cities besides Guilin?
CLI currently only offers Teach in China positions in Guilin.
4. What are the exact steps to signing up for Teach in China?
To apply for CLI’s Teach in China program, please complete CLI’s online application. Accepted students will receive a Pre-Departure Checklist outlining next steps.
5. What will my first week in Guilin be like?

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.

Passport & Visa

1. Does CLI provide its students with a student visa?

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.

2. Do I need a passport and visa to study in China?

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.