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Keats School, Kunming - A Query


Barb in Maryland

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imron

They're all valid reasons, I just wanted to point out that the price difference wasn't nearly as big as you made it out to be. Anyway, good luck with your studies, I hope you remember to let us all know how Keats works out for you once the 3 months is up.

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  • 2 months later...
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Imron (or anyone who can help),

I'm attending Keat's School in June (it's coming up fast) and I'm at a loss as to how to get cash over to pay the school.

The school wants to be paid in RMB - cash.

I don't want to carry several thousand dollars with me when I travel, but I don't want to be "robbed" by the banks when converting traveler's checks, bank checks, etc.

Can anyone help me out with some information? What is the best way (and cheapest way) to get currency into China?

I was thinking of transferring the money to the school's bank just before I leave, but the secretary told me that besides paying my bank's fee for wiring the money, I'll have to pay a fee from the Chinese bank too.

Please help if you can.

Bruce

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imron

Personally, I think the best and most convenient way is just to use a bank card (visa debit or credit), however some people have reported problems, both with ATMs not accepting the cards, and others debiting the money from your foreign account but then not giving out any money.

Traveller's cheques are probably the safest way if you're worried about carrying that much cash, and don't feel that ATMs are an acceptable solution. Whatever you do though, the banks are going to get money from you somehow.

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abcdefg

Two ancient Chinese proverbs come to mind:

1. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

2. Don't make a mountain out of a molehill.

I sincerely hope this is the largest problem you face in your upcoming time abroad. Check these links then just make a choice. China is mostly a cash economy. That's just the way it works.At least for folks like you and me.

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/14722-accessing-cash-wire-transfers-travelers-cheques-and-atms

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/2050-mcdull-prince-de-la-bun-%e9%ba%a5%e5%85%9c%ef%bc%8e%e8%8f%a0%e8%98%bf%e6%b2%b9%e7%8e%8b%e5%ad%909

abcdefg

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abcdefg

They got a new chef in May. His food looked good and got favorable reviews from some of my classmates who tried it. I opted to eat my meals outside to practice the associated vocabulary three times a day.

I didn't try the tai chi, but sort of wish I had. Maybe next time I will.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi All.

I just returned from a VERY SHORT visit with Keats School.

The reason I returned so soon was I fell I'll as soon as I got there and then fell in the room when I got up duiring the night to use the restroom. The fall caused a couple of minor cuts, but:...The next morning, Mandy (the secretary) and her mother came to see me. Basically, they explained to me that my health was a concern to them and felt I would be a liability and wished for me to return home. (The illness I had when I first arrived was a hypoglycemic episode (from Diabetes).) The fall in the room was from walking on the tile floors I guess My legs felt a little weak when I arrived in Kunming. I don't know if the altitude had anything to do with it, but nevertheless, I was a little unsteady on my feet.

They returned my entire course fee and paid for the change fee by Cathey Pacific. The mother drove me to the Kunming airport to start my flight back home (which was a NIGHTMARE, but through no fault of keat's School.)

I did not want to go back home, but did not argue the fact. Staying where I was not wanted would have only caused tension.

Mandy and her mother (and for that matter) all the workers of the school were helpfful and made my short stay very pleasant. I'm sorry that I couldn't complete the course (my teacher, Ocean, was wonderful).

Now I'n back home. For those of you thinking of attending Keat's School, all I have for them is praise. I realize they felt I was a liability - and perhaps I thought I was In better health than I am. Although I know very little about their teachings, I was impressed with what I saw while I was there.

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  • 6 months later...
wildisland

Our family wants to spend a few weeks in Kunming to allow our 12-yr-old daughter to continue learning chinese. She was in an immersion program for two years in Portland, but we left town. She is losing her chinese so we want to spend a few weeks in china. She doesnt like one-on-one learning. She is fine with a classes full of kids her age. Keats said they would find Chinese friends for her to play with. Do you think I can count on that? I think that is the way a child really learns a language.

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abcdefg

Wildisland – I studied at Keats school as an adult who wanted one-on-one teaching and was very well pleased. The staff always did everything they could to help me and always kept their word. You can definitely count on them to do what they promise. Having said that, if what your daughter really wants is a classroom full of 12-year olds learning Chinese as a second language, I don’t know if she can find that anywhere in China. Possibly Shanghai or Beijing. Even there it may be extremely difficult to only study for a few weeks time.

Edited by abcdefg
clarity
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It's not impossible, although there might be practical issues during term time. I'd be careful to stress though that you want your daughter to be using Chinese, other it may get presented to other parents as a chance for their kids to practice English

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  • 2 months later...
Charles Barkley

I found these forums looking for reviews of the school before I came and am just about to finish four weeks of studying at the school. To answer the obligatory "street cred" questions, no I was not asked by the school to post and yes I plan to continue posting here. Once I am done with this post I am hoping to find recommendations for a good, easy to understand grammar book.

Anyway, though the price is relatively high (if you wanted, you could rent an apartment in the city and find your own, albeit less qualified teachers, from yunnan university, for a fraction of the price) living in the city is dirt cheap so that makes up for it. You eat out like a king for 20 kuai (5 kuai still gets you a decent meal). And if don't have the chinese language skills, personal flexible, or mental fortitude to arrange your own program/accommodation, it isn't that expensive to let them do it for you.

Seems like all kinds of people study here--those inbetween jobs, gap-year high school graduates, retirees, graduate students from Japan who have 2 months off during the winter and want to escape the cold (the last was me if you couldn't guess--and yes, one of the main, and best reasons, many people have for coming here is the weather. Yunnan is awesome in that department. And in the food department).

My teacher is amazing (fluent in English with a degree in teaching Chinese to foreigners) and all the other teachers I have interacted with during breaks in class and class outings have seemed equally competent.

The accommodations are great and they excel in the details. Everything you know you will need and even things you don't yet know you will need but do in fact need await your arrival. Also they go out of their way to accommodate you--two anecdotes: both my flight to kunming and my flight out were after midnight and this proved no problem; I thought I lost my keys while away during the weekend and the owner of the school waited all night for my return to let me into my room).

Though a lot of people here eat the food and it looks decent, I personally opted to eat out since A) it gives you a chance to go out exploring and use your chinese and B) the food in kunming's markets and backstreets is just amazing.

Anyway, I can't recommend the school enough and will possibly be returning next winter to escape the cold in Tokyo.

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thailiving

Here is my belated review of our visits to Keats.

I have taken my teenagers to Keats in Kunming three times: in May, July and October of 2008. We stayed for two weeks each time. The first two visits we organized our own food but we ate at Keats on the third visit. The food was delicious and plentiful, and it was easier than going out to a restaurant each night. They only provide food Monday to Friday so we were able to eat at different restaurants on the weekends.

I have been very happy on each visit. The owner and her daughter went out of their way to help us settle in - especially on the first visit when out bags didn't arrive with us!

My children have liked their teachers and while they are usually tired after speaking Mandarin for four hours, they have certainly benefited from the experience.

On our last visit, my kids had lessons for four hours in the morning and then went out with another teacher for four hours in the afternoon.

Kunming is easy to get around and has a great climate.

In general, we had a very positive experience at Keats.

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  • 4 weeks later...
putonghua73

I plan to study Chinese for a year in Kunming in 2011. I'm starting my research and am extremely interested in Keats. Yes, it is expensive at first, even second glance - but comfortable accommodation, meals and most of all 4 hours per day 1-2-1 personal tuition is extremely compelling.

I need to research to compare Keats against other options, as well as setting it all up myself (apartment, personal tutor, yada yada yada) but I must admit that I don't think I can contemplate a standard group class at a university compared to 4 hours per day of 1-2-1 personal tuition.

I have studied Chinese in London (home-town) at different colleges [international House & SOAS] in class-sizes up to 10, once a week for 2 hours and whilst the teaching methods were good, actual time I spent speaking Chinese in class must be under 15 minutes. Whilst I will be studying everyday and living in China in 2011, my Chinese would be immeasurably better via 1-2-1 personal tuition from a qualified teacher (who can help organise and personalise my lessons) compared to standard group teaching.

Of course, the factor is cost - which would still be well within my budget (unless I make any more dumb investments - currently 89% down).

My only concerns would be:

1. Would it be possible to attend Keats and rent a private or shared apartment? If I am single by the time I leave for China, then there may be the odd occasion where I may wish to bring back a date / girlfriend(s). Would this be possible if I stayed at Keats?

2. I'm vegetarian. Would Keats be able to provide vegetarian options? Not a biggie, as I could also cook for myself and/or eat out.

At this early stage of my research, the convenience, 1-2-1 tutoring with personalised lesson schedules (4 hours a day will initially kill me!) and all the testimonials, is weighing me towards the Keats option. I'll be free to focus on Chinese, finding dates and exploring and enjoying Kunming and Yunnan.

2011 just cannot come quickly enough (or I need to place my faith in astronomically improbable statistical odds such as the Lottery).

Cheers!

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abcdefg
My only concerns would be:

1. Would it be possible to attend Keats and rent a private or shared apartment? If I am single by the time I leave for China, then there may be the odd occasion where I may wish to bring back a date / girlfriend(s). Would this be possible if I stayed at Keats?

2. I'm vegetarian. Would Keats be able to provide vegetarian options? Not a biggie, as I could also cook for myself and/or eat out.

I studied and lived at Keats several months last year and was quite pleased. I knew one classmate who rented his own apartment and only studied at the school during the day. As to the meals, just ask them. They are responsive by e-mail. Use the link posted on their website. One of my classmates was vegetarian, but I don't know exactly what eating arrangements he made.

Give some thought to starting out at Keats until you get more familiar with Kunming (and China) and re-evaluating at that point. I't probably not smart to commit to (and pay up front for) an entire year at Keats or anywhere else all at once.

Edited by abcdefg
typo
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putonghua73
Give some thought to starting out at Keats until you get more familiar with Kunming (and China) and re-evaluating at that point. I't probably not smart to commit to (and pay up front for) an entire year at Keats or anywhere else all at once.

Good points!

An initial month at Keats would allow me to determine if it fits my needs or not, and will allow me time to get adjusted and settled. As you say, at that point I could re-evaluate my options. If I do like the 1-2-1 personalised tuition and school, I could continue to study on a 3 month basis each time, and find my own apartment and/or apartment share with someone else after that initial month.

The option of being able to study at Keats, whilst living away from the school (after the initial month adjustment period - as I need to be independent) sounds like it does meet my requirements. Of course, I shall need to perform more research and consider and evaluate all the options to determine the costs, but also their respective value.

Cheers abcdefg!

Post-script: from exploring the other options, I'm almost certain to spend an initial 3 months learning Mandarin at Keats in 2011 (eat-in option). If all goes well - sounds like it should from the testimonials - I'll continue to study at Keats for a further 9 months (split into 3 quarters - to allow me to take a few weeks each time to travel) and find a shared apartment.

2011 cannot come soon enough .. especially as I have 10 exams, full-time work and dating - like the English summer - is elusive and proving to be a damp squib.

Edited by putonghua73
post-script
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abcdefg
An initial month at Keats would allow me to determine if it fits my needs or not, and will allow me time to get adjusted and settled.

An intial 3 months is probably more reasonable unless you are already an Old China Hand or a really speedy guy.

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  • 1 month later...
glindog

Hi all, I will be studying at keats this summer for 2 months. For those who have studied there, how have you paid for tuition, room, and board? I don't want to be carrying the equivalent of 20,000 RMB or so around (travelling around korea a week before china) with me, and Traveler's checks seems like a hassle for that big an amount. Has anybody paid via wire transfer? I would do this, but I am not sure how much money the Chinese bank will deduct.

Thanks!

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abcdefg

Large denomination traveler’s checks ($100) are not really much of a hassle. You also can ask Keats about a wire transfer. They usually answer e-mail promptly.

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  • 2 months later...

Having just finished my 2nd short stint at Keats I can fully recommend the School. They will modify the teaching to your exact needs, allow you to change teachers if you are not initially happy. If you want a lot of homework/oral/aural/writing/stories/culture/history/etc they will give it. Feedback on teaching methodologies is actually reviewed and actions taken (may seem harsh) to keep the teaching standard high.

Kunming is a 'friendly' city and offers all the modern conveniences of a modern city without the frantic pace. i have been to a lot of Chinese city's and Kunming is near the top in terms of ease of lving. With so many top class tourist destinations nearby with fantastic weather it really is a great place to base yourself for a few weeks. Also you don't pick-up a Beijing brogue.

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