Camilo Collados Valenzuela, from Chile, joined Lotus 5 weeks Winter program at BLCU in 2004.

I arrived to China knowing a little bit of Chinese; in fact I had been taking lessons in my home country for more than a year. I had decided that it was time to see how much could I speak and the only way of doing it was going to China and live with Chinese people. I believed the home stay program was a good way to practice what you learned at university and also to be part of a Chinese family, get to experience their daily life, costumes, fascinating food and a really warm and helping atmosphere.

When you get to china everything is new and interesting but when you arrive to your Chinese family everything feels like home, I never felt uncomfortable, always received with a friendly smile. Both Niu Niu and Li qiang where very helping and understood that I could barely speak mandarin in the beginning. I only knew how to speak a little bit of Chinese but I couldn't write or read very well so Niu Niu helped me a lot during the course, she said I could ask her anything at anytime, it is something I appreciated very much. My house was about 25 minutes from BLCU, every morning I took the bus, it was clearly one of the most interesting things of my day in the beginning, you could get to see how ordinary people live each day and mix with them, interact and learn how to get to places in Chinese. The lessons started early in the morning and finished around 12pm, after that you had lunch with other classmates and probably go home after. The fact that you had to speak Chinese after you finish your regular lessons was one of the best things of the program. University was very good for learning new words and something about grammar but after that you need to practice and that was given at home.

The apartment where I lived was located near the campus, inside they had everything you have at home, computer, TV, DVD, washing machine and a nice and comfortable room for my own. My family was very respectful and understanding. I did everything they did if I wanted to join them. Everyday she cooked for us magnificent food, the taste of real Chinese food it's awesome. I was included as a member of their family, we could go out, drink some tea, go to a restaurant and have something to eat or drink.

It was an amazing experience I'll never forget.