Laurel has just completed an intensive Chinese summer immersion program located at Indiana University. The curriculum of the Flagship Chinese Institute is roughly equivalent to a year’s worth of Chinese packed into 8 weeks, and students must maintain a language pledge to use only Chinese at all times. 

Laurel with her class. Can you spot her? Hint: She is the only one with curly hair!

Laurel with her class. Can you spot her? Hint: She is the only one with curly hair!

To summarize my experience at FCI in a short, sweet way, I want to start by saying that I’m more than glad I participated, not only because of the improvement of my Chinese skills, but because of the wonderful friends I’ve made. The program truly is an experience for those who are willing to meet new people and give their best effort and, although it isn’t easy, I never once felt that I couldn’t meet the challenges put before me.

I can also say that the FCI I imagined and the FCI I participated in were two different things; it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I imagined it would be and I felt right at home in the classroom. Despite the fact that there were a few situational difficulties during our time at the program, I think the staff did a great job of making the experience as enjoyable as possible, and the students who didn’t enjoy themselves were those who remained unwilling to think positively during our time together. I have full confidence that next year’s program will be even better, and I strongly recommend that anyone with a desire to learn participates for the sake of bettering their Chinese. If you’re anything like I am, you’ll be crying when you leave and spend the next few weeks trying to keep yourself from using inside jokes in Chinese around family members who can’t understand you.