Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Take a year and learn Chinese
Old 10-24-2006, 12:27 PM   #1
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 129
Take a year and learn Chinese

Interesting way to really keep expenses down for a year while taking on a life adventure.

http://www.sxtu.edu.cn/english/costofattendance.htm

Shanxi Normal University offers a yearlong program for about USD $3200, which includes tuition and single occupancy furnished room with private bathroom, telephone, TV, and air conditioner. It's my understanding that additional living expenses are $50-$100 per month depending on how often you eat KFC etc. Throw in a couple grand to be able to travel by train to see the rest of the region during breaks that year and you're still talking 6-7 Gs + airfare to/from Beijing.

Obviously not for everyone and I'm sure accomodations aren't the Ritz Carlton, but I know there are a lot of people who enjoy exposure to foreign culture and/or wish to gain a high level of competency in a foreign language, so it's kinda neat that you can pursue that for so much less than cost of living here.
__________________

__________________
WRBT is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Re: Take a year and learn Chinese
Old 10-24-2006, 09:12 PM   #2
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 228
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese

Sign me up! Oh shoot--I still have a job.

I am studying Russian and I've been looking at the cost of language school plus homestay in St. Petersburg. It costs about the same as taking Spanish in Mexico.
__________________

__________________
LRS is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese
Old 10-24-2006, 11:01 PM   #3
Recycles dryer sheets
Lagniappe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 207
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tawny Dangle

I am studying Russian and I've been looking at the cost of language school plus homestay in St. Petersburg. It costs about the same as taking Spanish in Mexico.
What rates have you found for studying Spanish in Mexico? I've been thinking about studying Spanish in Costa Rica, but haven't started pricing language schools yet.
__________________
Lagniappe is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese
Old 10-25-2006, 01:30 AM   #4
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,152
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese

Hi Val,

I went to Spanish school in Mexico this summer for two weeks. This was a top notch school with a great reputation and outstanding instructors (Baden-Powell in Morelia, Morelia is a colonial city of about 900K in south central Mexico). I paid $17/hour for private instruction. I paid $24/day for homestay (this includes all meals). I took 4 hours per day 5 days per week. This was definitely a "full load" and if I had stayed longer, I would probably have switched to 3 hours per day and perhaps 4 days per week.

7 x 24 = 168
20 x 17 = 340

This is 508 per week. It included free Hi-speed internet and lots of computers. You will probably spend a little more on extracurricular activities. This schedule gave me time for little else except for one weekend daytrip.

If I was doing a long term stay, I would go with a private apartment. They were offering a beautiful 2 bedroom apartment with full kitchen and living room for about $27/day, I think, just one block from school and in great location downtown. They had a smaller, less glamorous furnished one bedroom in the same location for $14/day, I think. This can give you an idea of the short term costs. You could get monthly motel rates even cheaper, probably.

You can rent corporate-quality furnished apartments in Morelia monthly for around $650 (short term OK), I think. This means that if you look around, you can probably find something a lot cheaper from a private party. Either a room or your own apartment (say a room $120, apt $300). So you can just start in school housing and then find something cheaper. Personally, I would look to rent a room with some locals so that I could talk with them in my spare time.

There are cheaper schools available (prices above are probably high end). And group instruction is probably half the price of individual instruction. But my time was limited and I wanted to get the most out of it. I think I saw other schools in the same city with 1-1 instruction for around $13. If you are doing long term, I am sure you can negotiate all of these rates down significantly. Most of these schools teach English and Spanish, so go look at their English rates on their web site (assuming you can read Spanish). You will be shocked just how much cheaper they are. Also, this is a good way to make local friends and learn about life there, talk with the English students.

I was literally amazed at the quality of instruction at Baden-Powell, probably better than anything I had in college or graduate school. You get the most out of your time if you already have the basics of the language down before you go. In general, you need to look carefully at the quality of instruction that you will be receiving.

So if you rented a room, say you could get lodging costs down to $150/month or less. Go to group classes for 15 hours week long term, your costs go down to about $110/week or 12 hours week individual discounted to $14/hour for $168/week. Food might run you $250/month assuming you eat out all the time. Entertainment/travel $250/month. This would really be a luxury budget. Also, many people get living quarters lined up, and take classes on and off. They will go visit somewhere for a week and then return, etc.

Kramer
__________________
kramer is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese
Old 10-25-2006, 09:21 AM   #5
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 4,005
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese

Here's the school I studied at for 6 weeks back in 1999:

http://www.van-graff.com/cuernavaca/index2.html

Centro Bilingue in Cuernavaca, Mexico (75 km south of Mexico City).

From their website, it says classes are $200/wk plus a one-time $100 registration fee. That gets you 8 hours of intensive instruction per day, 5 days per week (plus hours of homework at the advanced levels). The classes I attended usually had 3-4 students, but often we only had 1-2 students in our classes.

I also did the homestay option which consisted of a private or shared room with shared bathroom in a Mexican family's house. 3 meals per day were included (mmm... Mexican food can't get any more authentic than having your family's mamá or abuela cook!). I don't know what the cost was when I stayed there, but the language school's website has an offering for $28/day at a house for basically the same setup. This was really a great experience - immersion. The mamá and papá where I stayed spoke essentially zero english, so dinnertime was a great time to practice speaking. My "family" also had two teachers from the language school. One of them actually taught at one of the SUNY-system universities on occasion (in NY). One of the teachers would tour us around town, hang out, and drink beer with us. I even went back to mexico a year later and hung out with him again.

The school also had "cultural" classes where they taught cooking or other arts/crafts or dance, and occasionally had folk dancers or musicians come in to perform.

Overall, top notch school, great facilities - highly recommended. My total cost for my study abroad package was ~$2500 in 1999 including air travel, weekend excursions, tuition, room/board, and college transfer fees (I got credit).

__________________
justin is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese
Old 10-25-2006, 09:45 AM   #6
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 65
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese

I am too would rather learn Spanish.

Justin, Thanks for the link.

Mach1
__________________
Dream as if you'll live forever.  Live as if you'll die today.
Mach1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese
Old 10-25-2006, 10:52 AM   #7
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Sheryl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,459
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese

WRBT - thanks for that link. I would LOVE to do that. Don't know if S.O. would be too excited about the "adventure," though.

I studied Chinese for a year at the university here, but couldn't keep up with second-year class and work at the same time. I got pretty good at writing, but my accent was terrible. It is fascinating to study a language that is so completely different from ours. Makes Spanish, French, Itatlian and English just seem like minor variations of each other. The big thing it has going for it IMO is that nouns don't have gender. I HATE that about Spanish!

I investigated going there to teach English, but was a little intimidated by the idea, and wasn't ready to quit my job yet. I wonder if you could get some work teaching English while you were studying Chinese?
__________________
Sheryl is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese
Old 10-25-2006, 03:13 PM   #8
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 129
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese

Yeah I took two years of Mandarin at the local college, couldn't go further since the more advanced classes aren't offered at night and I can't get out of work enough time during the day for a 5 credit course.

I've continued studying on my own, which is far easier these days with all the audio content that comes with modern textbooks and internet help available, but am definitely in a deadzone where the work/reward ratio isn't nearly as high... vocabulary lists with words like "eagle" that you're not going to use (or remember easily) in conversation woohoo.

I believe a year studying full time in China would get me where I want to be... sadly I'm like above poster where not retired yet.
__________________
WRBT is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese
Old 10-25-2006, 04:58 PM   #9
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 228
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese

Good replies from others who have studied in Mexico. This summer I studied briefly at Maress, in Puerto Escondido. It is a small private school. Instruction for my family of 4 for one week was $250/2 hours a day. We did not have time to absorb much Spanish on that trip. I also studied intensive Spanish through my university at a branch of the University of Veracruz in Xalapa, about 25 years ago. I felt that 6 weeks of intensive instruction advanced me from a beginner (with 6 months of instruction at my home university) to intermediate/advanced.

Here are my personal opinions based on my study/travel in Mexico, and based on researching schools and talking to a lot of other people about their experiences:

1. Homestays do not sound very appealing to some, but you will learn more Spanish, by far, in a homestay situation. A homestay is a total immersion situation.

2. If you study Spanish for a few hours a day but speak English the rest of the time, you will not learn very much Spanish.

3. The little informal schools cost a lot less than the large formally organized ones that offer college credit. The level of instruction can vary from lousy to surperb--you won't know until you start classes. The ambiance of a small school may not live up to your expectations. For instance, you probably won't find airconditioning at the smaller schools, or individual textbooks, computers, etc. The classes may be held in a couple of tiny rooms overlooking a noisy street in the middle of town. If you want more than a blackboard and an earnest young person to teach you, consider a larger school.

4. However, success at any school depends on your willingness to put in the time and sudy. So, if you don't mind a small, informal setting and you expect to work hard, don't bypass the smaller, cheaper schools located in cities off the tourist track. Tuition is cheaper, you may find good teachers and make a lot of progress. Off the tourist track means you will be speaking less English outside of class.

5. For me, 4 hours would be the max, especially if I were staying a few weeks, and I was in a homestay. I like to have time to mosey around and relax. Also, a mix of one-on-one instruction plus group classes and intercambios (discussion groups with native speakers) seems to work well for most people.

6. If you have plenty of time to spend in Mexico, pick out a school before you leave but check it out when you get there, before you sign up or pay any money down. Only pay for a week and see how you like the place. Most schools, even the bigger ones, allow people to sign up and start on any Monday. Switch to another school if you have problems. If you want to travel, ask the director if there is another confederated school in another location. Or just move on and switch. You will learn a lot of Spanish just by traveling in Mexico. Reading newspapers, watching TV, buying stuff in the market and tryiing to figure out the bus schedules is a learning experience.

My experience at Maress was terrific. The teachers were wonderful. The classrooms were small and bare, but that didn't make any difference to me. I also met some Mexicans while doing a language exchange. It was a very positive experience for me.

Try this website, which lists Spanish language schools around the world and gives user reviews:
http://www.123teachme.com
__________________
LRS is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese
Old 10-26-2006, 10:39 AM   #10
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 129
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese

Quote:
Try copy-pasting your user ID and password into the entry boxes.
I was thinking the same thing. Use minibrowser and minimize sensitive keystrokes with copy and paste files.
__________________
WRBT is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese
Old 11-06-2006, 11:39 AM   #11
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,318
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese

Wangluo,
It's interesting to see your original post and see how inexpensively one can live in places like rural China in a program like this. I am sure it is pretty spartan, but still, it opens up ER possibilities or even sabbatical possibilities to people who might think they couldn't afford to ER yet. Besides, a year of Mandarin should improve anyone's ability to find well-paid employment part time or full time should they want to do that.

For people interest in Mexico, I assume you all know about the great mexican guidebook People's Guide to Mexico? Carl Franz and Lorena Havens. Reading the thing 30 years ago fueled my earliest ER dreams, and still provides all necessary fodder for a very comfortable "Plan C" deep backup plan for what we do if the world's financial system ever falls apart and all our nestegg with it.
__________________
ER for 10 years; living off 4.3% of savings (and a few book royalties ;-)
ESRBob is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese
Old 11-06-2006, 08:06 PM   #12
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 228
Re: Take a year and learn Chinese

Carl Franz is my favorite travel author. I read his book before I went to Mexico for the first time, when I was a student. Since then, whenever I need a Mexico "fix", I get the latest edition of the guide. All the stuff in the book is real--weird fiestas, mystery paleta carts, burro trains wandering under your window at 5 am, the works.
__________________

__________________
LRS is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Ready to learn getwet Hi, I am... 3 12-10-2006 01:20 PM
As I learn more about investing, my 401k DOESNT look so great.... thefed FIRE and Money 66 11-02-2005 10:30 AM
This company pays 1% per day 365 days a year! powercash FIRE and Money 3 02-28-2005 04:33 PM
New Year, New Resolution, Same Results Eagle43 Other topics 1 02-02-2005 10:38 AM
Year end 2004 -- what did you learn? johnblake FIRE and Money 23 12-29-2004 01:01 PM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:52 PM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.