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Kunming or Yuxi for 1 year (uni) language course?


AntonOfTheWoods
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I spent 4 months teaching English in Fuzhou a loooong time ago and was planning to go back to spend a year there learning Chinese at a university. The universities are all out of town now though, the weather is horrible there (super hot in summer and very cloudy) and my understanding is it has got much more expensive. I initially thought I might learn a bit of Min Hua, but in a year that will be a challenge.

 

So I went looking and Kunming turned up - nice weather, mainly Mandarin spoken (with a strong accent if a friend is to be believed :-)), and probably slightly less "international". There are a few posts here about Yuxi also, which sounded even better - smaller, cheaper and fewer foreigners. I would be happy if there were very few indeed, and I certainly don't need any foreign bars/clubs.

 

Has anyone studied in Yuxi in the last couple of years? What is the Normal University like?

 

Cheers,

Anton

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On ‎1‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 6:48 AM, AntonOfTheWoods said:

Has anyone studied in Yuxi in the last couple of years? What is the Normal University like?

 

I haven't studied there, but I seriously thought about it and even went there to have a look. It's a beautiful campus, relatively new, spacious, nicely landscaped and clean. Makes a good first impression. (I know nothing first-hand about the academic strengths or weaknesses of the university.) It's my understanding that they have been endowed by the Hongta Group, a diversified company that got its start there as a tobacco factory and manufacturer of cigarettes. 

 

Yuxi is a nice smaller city, someplace I wouldn't mind living. Been there two or three times, but not in about a year except to pass through. About an hour south of Kunming, less by private car. Public transportation was made easier by a rail link completed a couple years ago. Also plenty of busses run between the two cities, every few minutes during peak times.

 

One of the attractions in Yuxi is some first rate hot springs, some of which are even outdoors. One of the negatives of Yuxi is that two large chemical factories have opened plants there in recent years and they are said to be harming the environment. They are on the other side of the city and shouldn't impact someone living on the university campus.

 

I'll bet your Chinese would get really good there since there would be little to no temptation to try and exist in a "foreigner bubble." You would be using what Chinese you know 24/7. Hope you decide to go for it!

 

---------------------------------

 

Edited to add: Looks like I need to qualify my comment above about Yuxi being a nice smaller city. Got to wondering about its population, and Baidu says it is over 2 million. Nevertheless, parts of it do still have somewhat of a "small town" feel.  

Edited by abcdefg
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Thanks for the advice abcdeg!

17 hours ago, abcdefg said:

Looks like I need to qualify my comment above about Yuxi being a nice smaller city. Got to wondering about its population, and Baidu says it is over 2 million. Nevertheless, parts of it do still have somewhat of a "small town" feel.

 

I grew up in New Zealand in a "major town" (just under official "city" status) - population 20,000. The capital of NZ has something like 450k residents in the larger "metro area" - that was definitely the big smoke back when I was a kid! I think it's not so much about population but mentality - I'll bet people in Yuxi don't think they're at the centre of things like people in Wellington do! :)

 

At the moment I'm leaning towards spending the summer at Kunming Normal Uni (better teaching and probably slightly easier for organising the summer part of the visa) and then Sept-June in Yuxi. Kunming Normal Uni looks like a good option for the quality of the classes but being in a "university town" outside the city surrounded by kids half my age all wanting to practice their English is a complete non-starter for the year proper!

Thanks again!

Anton

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I would think the logistics of coming to a university in Kunming will be easier than to one in Yuxi, if nothing else by virtue of their having more experience accommodating foreign students. 

 

23 hours ago, AntonOfTheWoods said:

Kunming Normal Uni looks like a good option for the quality of the classes...

 

I'm guessing you mean Yunnan Normal Uni 云南师范大学。(To the best of my knowledge, there is no Kunming Normal University. )

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Hi Anton, 

 

Have you checked out Yunnan University?

I believe the Chinese teaching is situated north of Green Lake ( pretty central )

I also know a few people who did/ are doing their studies there and like it. 

 

If you are studying in the University town it is a little out of the way. 

 

Best of luck with your studies and keep us updated 

Listen to abcdefg he is an expert on Kunming!

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Thanks again abcdefg and Huayang Academy!

 

A friend of a friend is actually a Chinese as a foreign language teacher at Yunnan Normal University (yes, indeed it appears I keep incorrectly calling it Kunming NU!) and I have been exchanging with her. I was talking about Yuxi and she was a bit sceptical... As I intend to arrive early-mid June and spend the summer doing 1-1 classes (or very small group if available) to get a serious boost before starting the university year, she suggested I do June in a private language school in the city, July at YNU (in University Town) and then August in the city at YU, taking a few trips to Yuxi to see whether I like it and to talk to the university.

 

That would be totally wonderful and the best way to do things by far - the only thing is that I have no idea how realistic that is in terms of visas. Would that even be possible? What sort of visa would I need to arrive (so for the summer period)? If I understand correctly, say I arrive on a tourist visa (would that even be legal if I intend to study for short courses? would the authorities care?), to get a study visa I would then need to leave the country and get to a consulate/embassy somewhere and stay until I got the visa changed. Is that correct?

 

Also, all the sites I've been looking at with easy information in English (CUCAS, admissions.cn, etc.) say that the cut-off date for registration for year-long courses starting in Sept is March-May - before I arrive. Is that only the official stance and in reality it is much more flexible?

 

Thanks a million for your help and expertise :-).

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  • 1 month later...

Hi sorry for the late reply, don't arrive on a tourist visa and attempt to change, 

there are a number or stories of students being refused, much safer to apply for an X1 in your home country. 

Check out scholarships in the universities you are targeting as they seem to be easy enough to get for serious students. 

 

We have had students with us who then went to university so it should be possible, 

Best bet is get in touch with the University directly and have a chat with them

 

Best of luck with your study and always welcome to visit us for a coffee 

 

 

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Thanks for your reply. Actually I have been in contact with Yuxi Normal and my contact there (the woman who organises everything for foreign students apparently) it very adamant indeed - it will be more difficult and expensive if I don't arrive on a tourist visa. She said that maybe different schools had different situations (and probably different cities do too) but my Chinese friend checked with her something like 5 times - she was very, very clear - at least for Yuxi Normal, arriving on a tourist visa is better (at the current time).

 

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On 1/9/2018 at 11:48 PM, AntonOfTheWoods said:

the weather is horrible there (super hot in summer and very cloudy) and my understanding is it has got much more expensive. I initially thought I might learn a bit of Min Hua, but in a year that will be a challenge

It is my impression that the minhua is less spoken in popular coastal cities like Xiamen. I was pleasantly surprised how many people from other parts of China had moved there. Therefore putonghua seemed to be wider spoken than in Kunming. The university in Xiamen is very famous and is considered one of the most beautiful in China, so my friend told me. She is from Fujian, from Fuzhou. I cannot comment on the summer weather but the weather in winter was really pleasant. I think people in Xiamen said that because the summer weather is so hot it is a must to have airconditioning. I am not sure there are similar solutions in place in Kunming (for example airconditioning in summer and heating in winter)

I have been to  Kunming a few times and the lack of oxygen was a problem for me. It is at high altitude. But you have obviously done your homework. I also thought the temperature in Kunming in winter is fairly cold.

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3 hours ago, Tøsen said:

The university in Xiamen is very famous and is considered one of the most beautiful in China, so my friend told me.

 

I was thinking about going back to Fuzhou mainly to take advantage of my (best) friend's extensive network of friends and family there. To be honest though, I'm really looking for somewhere which mainly speaks Putonghua, has reasonable amounts of sun, not too much pollution, isn't too expensive and has as few foreigners as possible. Yuxi seemed to fit the bill the best. I have been looking at the climate stats and winter in Yuxi seems to average 12-13C in winter with very little rain, up to 25C in summer. I looked the other week when it was a max of 3C here in Paris, and in Yuxi it was 22C. That's fine by me :-).

 

If everything goes to plan I'll try and get a job somewhere like Xiamen, Shanghai or Shenzhen after my year learning the language - I definitely don't want to go somewhere with lots of foreigners and expensive necessities for the initial year though. After that que sera, sera :-).

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4 hours ago, Tøsen said:

I think people in Xiamen said that because the summer weather is so hot it is a must to have airconditioning. I am not sure there are similar solutions in place in Kunming (for example airconditioning in summer and heating in winter)

I have been to  Kunming a few times and the lack of oxygen was a problem for me. It is at high altitude. But you have obviously done your homework. I also thought the temperature in Kunming in winter is fairly cold.

 

It's quite unusual to find air conditioning and central heating furnished as part of the rental of an ordinary, low or mid-priced apartment in Kunming. Some swanky and recently-built high-rise apartment buildings do offer it, but the extra expense is significant. 

 

Kunming always has prided itself on having good weather, but late summer does get hot and late winter does get cold. From the end of December until the end of February we all wear lots of warm sweaters or fleece garments, inside and out. Not really a problem, just requires a different mode of dress from a place in which housing is heated. Windows typically are not double glazed and outside wall insulation is minimal or none. 

 

I've adapted by now, and only miss it a little bit. When it's rainy and almost freezing on a winter day the solar hot water can be barely tepid. Requires a robust constitution to take a shower. And one doesn't linger there to sing Puccini arias or luxuriate in thoughts about the meaning of life. One gets in and out PDQ. 

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19 minutes ago, abcdefg said:

Kunming always has prided itself on having good weather, but late summer does get hot and late winter does get cold. From the end of December until the end of February we all wear lots of warm sweaters or fleece garments, inside and out. Not really a problem, just requires a different mode of dress from a place in which housing is heated. Windows typically are not double glazed and outside wall insulation is minimal or none. 

 

Sounds a lot like where I grew up in New Zealand actually. From what I can tell Yuxi is a degree or two warmer than Kunming in winter too. In any case, the climate sites I've been looking at (like https://www.weather2visit.com/asia/china/yuxi.htm) put it at nicer weather than anywhere else I've ever lived, including the south-west of France and lower North Island of NZ (according to the city pages on that site for everywhere else I've lived). It will be interesting living somewhere where there is a lot more sun in winter in any case!

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