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General Program FAQ

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General program questions

Q: Are Lotus programs only open to U.S. citizens?
A: Our programs are open to people of all nationalities.

Q: If my program dates are, for example, June 18 to July 15, on what days should I plan to arrive and depart from Beijing?
A: You should plan to arrive in Beijing the day before your program start date, and depart the day after your program concludes.

Q: Can you give me references of past participants of your program?
A: We are happy to put you in contact with past participants who have agreed to serve as a reference. Please email us directly for contact information, or watch one of our participant video reviews.

Q: Will I have any opportunities to travel outside of Beijing?
A: For students of BLCU, Lotus holds various travel excursions in the Beijing area, such as the Great Wall and Summer Palace. If you want to travel outside of Beijing, you will have to plan this on your own, but our Beijing staff will happily provide you with travel information and tips.

Q: Can you give me the contact information of students from my home city who will also participate in my program?
A: If the other parties agree to share their contact information, we are happy to put you in touch with participants in your home city who will also be attending your program.

Q: How many people are in my host family? What are their ages?
A: This varies by host family. Lotus tries to match students according to their specific interests and requests, so be sure to provide details in your application form! You will receive information about your host family 1-2 weeks before your arrival date. High school students will be matched with a Chinese host sibling of a similar age and same gender.

Q: Why can't I receive host family information earlier?
A: We understand that students want their host family information as soon as possible. However, often times the families that we match with a particular student are unable to confirm if they are able to host until a few weeks beforehand. In order to avoid giving our students information about a host family only to have that information change multiple times before arrival, it is our policy not to give out information until the family is certain they can host a Lotus student, usually 1-2 weeks before the program begins.

Q: How safe is it for me to explore the city on my own? What about at night?
A: China continues to be one of the safest places to travel in Asia. Most of the country's major cities such as Beijing have very low rates of violent crime. The most common type of crime experienced by travelers is petty economic crimes such as pick-pocketing. We advise our students to pay close attention to their wallets and valuable belongings, especially when they are in-transit on buses, trains or subways. At night, it is also advisable to travel with at least one other friend.

Q: How many of your students come from English-speaking countries?
A: About 95% of our students come from English-speaking countries such as the United States, Canada, England, and Australia.

About Beijing Language and Culture University

Q: How many students will be in one class?
A: On average, there are 15 students per class.

Q: What will my class schedule be like?
A: Classes are held from 8am-12 noon for regular students, with hourly breaks. For intensive students, classes are from 8am-12 noon, and 1pm-3pm, with hourly breaks. Your courses will likely consist of listening comprehension, spoken Chinese, and integrated Chinese (all skills combined, including reading).

Q: I am an absolute beginner in Chinese; am I eligible to apply for your program?
A: 50% of our applicants are beginners in Chinese. Our Chinese learning programs are open for students at all levels - beginner to advanced, no minimum language ability required.

Q: Can I receive university or college credit for course work conducted in your program?
A: All the universities in Lotus' programs are preeminent in their fields, and have cooperative arrangements with numerous universities and research institutions around the world. You will obtain an official certificate and transcript issued by each university after completing our program. How many credits you are able to transfer depends on the requirements of the university in your home country.

Q: Do you offer any afternoon classes?
A: Our programs at universities have some afternoon activities such as Wushu (Chinese Martial Art), Chinese painting, Chinese character calligraphy, etc. We also have One-on-One afternoon tutoring available which is very helpful to improve your Chinese language skills within short time. The tutor can help you with homework or customize a study plan based on your Chinese level. Please consult our onsite staff after you arrive in Beijing if you would like to arrange the afternoon tutoring.

Q: What is the difference between 'Spring Semester' and 'Spring Semester Intensive' program at BLCU?
A: The class hours for the Spring Semester program is 20 hours/week, while the intensive program has 30 class hours each week.

Q: What is the minimum age requirement for your programs?
A: The minimum age requirement at BLCU is 17 years old, while Beijing Normal University requires a minimum age of 18. If you are above 60 years, please provide us with the following additional documents:
鈥?A letter from your doctor stating that you are in good health to travel and study in China
鈥?Report of your physical examination
Our One-on-One tutoring program has no age requirement. We can customize a package for you based on your individual goals.

Q: How can I get a visa?
A: The Admission Letter and JW202 form are required to obtain a visa. These documents are provided by Lotus when enrollment has been completed and total program fees paid. Participants attending our short-term programs, up to 20 weeks, or the semester programs, require an F (Visitor) visa. Academic year students are required to have an X (Student) visa.

Q: Do I need to go physically to apply for my visa?
A: Please consult your nearest Chinese consulate for detailed info about application for student visas. There are also many visa processing services which require that you mail your passport and supporting materials. You can also apply for the student visa through your travel agent.

Q: I do wish to study Chinese with Lotus, but my budget is tight. Do you offer scholarships?
A: We do not offer scholarships; however, our "Special Teach & Stay Exchange" package and "Teach in China" programs are very helpful to reduce your budget and expenses. See specific sections on our website for more information.

Q: What are the requirements to apply for Teach & Stay Exchange package?
A: You must be a native English speaker and willing to work as an English tutor for family members for one hour each day.

Q: Can I apply for Stay & Teach Exchange package if I am not a native English speaker?

A: Our host families in Stay & Teach Exchange listing prefer students who are native English speakers or have an educational background in an English speaking country. Please provide relative info when you apply for our Stay & Teach Exchange package.

Q: Is medical and accidental insurance required?
A: Yes. Please check with your current insurance (family plan) to see if it will cover you while overseas. If not, please purchase medical and accidental insurance before starting the program and send proof of your insurance: either a letter or a copy of your insurance card. You may also buy the insurance after arrival in Beijing, which costs US$80 for an academic year.

About Small Class

Q: How many students are in one class?
A: There will be no more than 5 students per class.

Q: Where are my classmates from?
A: Lotus participants come from all over the world, but mostly from the United States.

Q: Where are the Small Classes located?
A: The Small Classes are held in our spacious Beijing office close to the city's university district. We have four separate classrooms in our clean and air-conditioned space. Students who join our Small Class Program enjoy the benefits of daily interaction with our helpful staff and other Lotus participants. During class breaks we provide fresh fruit, tea, and purified water for. In addition, students may choose to eat an organic vegetarian buffet-style lunch inside our office, which we provide daily for a cost of 30RMB.

About Study and Travel Programs

Q: Where can I find detailed information about the itinerary, accommodations, and flight information for the various Study and Travel Programs?
A: After registration and payment is completed we will provide you with the details of your Study and Travel program.

Q: How many people will I be traveling with?
A: This depends on how many people decide to choose one of our travel options. The maximum group size is 30 students.

Q: Will I have any free time during the travel program?
A: Depending on which travel option you choose, you will have a few afternoons free for exploration. Most evenings will also be free (high school students will have a curfew).

About Homestay

Q: Should I bring my host family a gift? Should I give it to them when I arrive or when I leave?
A: Though it is not necessary, you might want to bring a small gift from your home country or town to give to your host family. It is best to give the gift to them when you arrive.

Q: Is it safe to do a homestay with us?
A: Yes. Each family undergoes a rigorous screening including personal interviews by our staff, and a security check is completed before a family is accepted. Housing units are usually owned (not rented) by the host families, and most hosts have professional careers. Besides, many families are located in a nice community where there is 24 hours security service.

Q: Will I have my own room?
A: Yes. Every family has at least one spare room.

Q: What items will be in my room?
A: Your room is fully furnished with a bed, desk, wardrobe (or closet) and air-conditioning.

Q: Will I get meals?
A: Breakfast and dinner are included in the regular homestay. If you apply for Teach & Stay Exchange, some families may offer breakfast and dinner, some may not. It depends on each family's conditions.

Q: May I make my own food?
A: Yes, with the host family's permission.

Q: I am a vegetarian, is that a problem?
A: Don't worry. We have a few host families who are vegetarians, too. Please specify thison your application and we can arrange either a vegetarian family or a vegetarian friendly family for you.

Q: Can I use the host family's telephone?
A: You may make local telephone calls for short conversation from the homestay. All long distance calls should be made using a calling card. If you would like to have your own telephone number, you can register for one at a cost of RMB 235 (about US $28). Your host family will assist you in doing this.

Q: May I use the family computer to get access to the Internet?
A: Yes. Each family has a home computer. If there is DSL, it will be free for you to access the internet. If you need to log on to the internet, you will need to get your family's permission first.

Q: Can I do laundry in the Homestay?
A: Yes. The host family will show you where the laundry facilities are.

Q: Will I be able to watch television?
A: Yes. All the living facilities in the public area of the home will be available to you.

Q: Will I have a curfew (time that I need to return to the Homestay each night)?
A: You will not have a curfew. However, it is customary that you notify your host family if you will miss dinner or will return after 10pm. For other rules you should obey in homestay, please read Rules of the homestay

Q: Can I have guests come to the homestay?
A: Yes, with the host family's permission.

Q: Can I join the family's activities?
A: Yes, the hosts treat you as a family member and welcome you to join their activities.

Q: Is a married couple eligible to apply for your homestay program?
A: Yes, married couples are welcome to join our program as most of our families are open to couples. Please note that the homestay fee for couples is 50% more than for a single person.

Q: What is the communication language at my host family?
A: Your host family understands that your purpose to come to China is for Chinese language learning, therefore, they will communicate with you in Chinese at home. If you apply for a Teach & Stay Exchange, you have the responsibility of teaching the family English for one hour a day. The rest of the time you can speak Mandarin to the family. Many families will be happy to tutor you in Chinese and help you improve your conversation skills.

Q: What if my Chinese is not good enough to communicate with the family?
A: Don't worry. Most of our families can speak a little English. If you can't understand what they are saying in Chinese, ask them to explain it in English.

Q: How many hours of social time can I expect to have with my host family?
A: It depends on the type of family you stay with. A young couple's family is usually only available after working hours and on weekends. If the family is senior retired people or the hostess is a housewife, you can expect more time to communicate with them. A lot of families will want to invite you to join their activities during the weekends, which is a good way to socialize with the family.

Q: Can I get assistance and help from my host family?
A: Absolutely. Your host family will be happy to provide all the necessary info and first hand help during your stay.

Q: What if I can't get along well with my host family?
A: if you are not happy with your host family after arrival in China, we can change your family once (If you apply for Homestay Only and wish to change to another family, $100 extra application fee is required). If you can't get along with the new family, it's your responsibility to make a decision about your accommodation. In our experience, this does rarely happens. Most of our students and host families get along very well and often forge life-long friendships.

Q: How far will the homestay be from school?
A: The families are located within 60 minutes by public transportation in non-peak traffic to the school.

Q: Can I choose a host family before I arrive in China?
A: Yes. You may choose a preferred family from the sample families published on our website. While individual family placement is based on first come, first served basis, we have enough capacity to arrange a host family for you.
Please also note that we only post a small sample of our host families. We would recommend for you to give us detailed information about your needs and requirements on the online application form. We will arrange a family which suits you best.

Q: What do I need to bring with me?
A: Upon your arrival, our on-site staff will provide you the following items:

  • Chinese-English, English-Chinese dictionary
  • Map of Beijing
  • Mobile SIM card

The host family will prepare all the bedding in your room, soap, tissues and a towel in the bathroom. You can bring additional items not mentioned. Please keep in mind that today in Beijing you can easily get almost any product or brand that you would find at home.

Q: I have my own arrangement for Chinese lessons, can I apply for your homestay program?
A: Yes. We also offer a Homestay Only service. This allows students to take advantage of our homestay program to better understand Chinese culture during their Chinese learning.

About Registration and Payment

Q: How long does it normally take for the Lotus registration process to be completed from start to finish?
A: It normally takes 3 weeks for the registration for our college programs and 2 weeks for our high school programs.

Q: Does Lotus help arrange my flight schedule and payment?
A: Lotus participants are responsible for their own flight scheduling and payment. You should plan to arrive no later than one day before your program starts, and depart the day after your program ends. If you choose to stay with your host family beyond the day after your program ends, there is a $30/day extra Homestay fee. Try to arrive in Beijing before 9pm for the convenience of your host family.

Q: How early should I register?
A: Please see the schedule & fees for information about the application deadline. We would suggest you apply as early as possible, as some courses are offered on a first come, first served basis.

Q: What if I have missed the deadline?
A: Please contact Lotus and see if space is still available.

About One-on-One Tutoring

Q: How many hours of tutoring are included per day?
A: 4 hours. The times of your tutoring sessions can be arranged individually with your tutor.

Q: Where will my tutoring sessions be held?
A: At your home or any other location you prefer (caf茅, museum, park, shopping center). Please discuss this individually with your tutor.

Q: How can I ensure that I am satisfied with my tutor's teaching methods?
A: Although your tutor is a professional with at least 2 years of experience teaching Chinese to foreign students, his or her teaching method is flexible, and can be tailored depending on how you prefer to learn and study the Chinese language.

Q: What if I'm not satisfied with my tutor?
A: You can contact our Beijing office and we can arrange a new tutor for you. You may only change your tutor once without incurring an extra fee.

Q: I am attending the One-on-One Tutoring program and I would like to receive college credit at my university for independent language study. Can my tutor provide me with a 鈥渃ourse鈥?syllabus to show my university?
A: Upon your arrival in Beijing, your tutor will give you a test to determine your Chinese level. After the results are in, he/she can prepare a general syllabus for you.


Q: What are other costs I should be aware of?
A: Our program fee includes registration, tuition, homestay with breakfast & dinner. There are not too many other costs. Minor costs include lunch, transportation and so on. It costs about RMB10 (US$1.20) to have lunch on the campus and no more than RMB10/day for bus fare between your homestay to the campus.

Q: What is the weather like in Beijing?
A: Winter (December - March) in Beijing is dry and windy. The capital experiences perhaps one or two snowfalls per winter, and the temperature hovers around 0 degrees Celsius for most of the season. Down jackets are recommended. Spring (April - May) is brief, but temperatures are pleasant (13 - 18 degrees Celsius). Sand and grit from the Gobi Desert to the north bring occasional dust storms. Summer (June - August) is hot with sticky humidity and afternoon thundershowers. The average temperature is 26 degrees Celsius. Fall (September - November) temperatures range from 5 degrees to the mid-teens. Evenings may turn unexpectedly cold. Light jackets or sweaters are needed.

Q: What if I have a problem while on the program?
A: Students arrange visa, insurance and airfare in their home country and Lotus takes care of all other details while students are in China. Our on-site director and staff will help you with any problem or concern that you may have.

Q: Do you offer Chinese language courses in other cities of China?
A: Our Chinese language programs are only available in Beijing while we have host families in other cities. We would recommend you to study Chinese in Beijing as it's the first destination for overseas students to learn Chinese. Most of China's top universities are located there. Besides, the other cities have strong accents in Mandarin, which can make it difficult for the foreigners to understand.

Q: What is the best way to bring money with me?
A: You can take a little cash or travelers checks. You can also open an account in China and wire transfer money from your home country. Additionally, those with Bank of America accounts can withdraw cash directly from China Construction Bank ATMs, using their debit cards.

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