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Designed for all levels of Mandarin speakers, on this program you can choose between private tutoring or group instruction. Based at a university in Shanghai, you’ll experience the student lifestyle and learn from native Mandarin speakers. Outside of class, take part in cultural activities such as learning kung fu, calligraphy, cooking local dishes, and visiting the Great Wall.

Take your language study to the next level and choose the “Chinese Language Immersion (Private Instruction)” option on the enrollment form to receive private classroom instruction. With private instruction, this program costs $4,295.

Dates listed reflect travel time departing from and returning to the USA. International clients click here.

With our No-Stress Travel Policy, you cancel for any reason up until the day of travel, and escrow 100% of the program fees for up to two years from the cancellation date.

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Program Profile

Community Service Component
Get to Know
The Language, The Sights
Live Like a Local
Travel Component
Stationary Program

  • Day 1

    Los Angeles to Beijing

    After meeting and greeting your flight leader and the other students joining the Chinese Language Immersion, it’s off to Beijing! This is an easy, non-stop ride across the Pacific – and most students find that after dinner and a movie, they’re able to manage dozing off to sleep for a while. So sit back, have a chat with your new friends, and enjoy the flight!

  • Day 2


    Arrive at Beijing Capital International Airport, where you will meet up with your program managers. Catch a chartered bus through downtown. 
Take in your first glimpses of China as you’re carried through the streets, especially Beijing’s distinctive old-meets-new architectural character. This multicultural metropolis is home to some 20 million people – one of the largest cities in the world. While Mandarin Chinese is the official national language here, nearly 300 other distinct languages are also spoken throughout the country’s 23 provinces. Welcome to China!

  • Day 3

    Explore the University

    Today we settle into your home for the next two weeks, so unpack, and get settled into your room. Participate in a quick orientation around the university campus. Meet your Chinese instructor and take a placement test to determine your skill level.

  • Day 4

    Start Class

    Today is your first day of classes. You will have your class assignments based on the placement test you took yesterday. Dive right into language learning! After a full morning of classes, break for lunch before heading out for an afternoon activity. This could include calligraphy or taiji classes.

  • Day 5 - 12

    The schedule will be structured primarily the same for each day. See the sample schedule below.

Each morning you will be in class for four hours (divided into four periods, which allow you ample time for a rest and a chance to get snacks or water.) 

 Meals will normally be taken together as a group at in the student cafeteria on campus. Being in Shanghai, you will have access to all of the great diversity of Chinese food. You may occasionally venture off campus to visit a restaurant with a distinct local specialty. Vegetarians need not worry, China is known for its savory vegetarian and tofu dishes. Also spiciness can be added or left out at request.

    Themed Activities:
 After a short rest in the afternoon, spend the rest of the day away from the classroom engaged in culture-based activities that will allow you to test out your Chinese lessons in the real world.

    These activities may include:

    • Chinese calligraphy classes: 
In order to be fluent in Chinese, many people consider knowledge of 2,000 characters sufficient. Begin to understand the complexity and beauty of this character set by practicing calligraphy.
    • Chinese Kung Fu or Tai Chi lessons: 
Learn the art of yin and yang by practicing these ancient forms, then take in a classic Bruce Lee movie, “Enter the Dragon.”
    • Market Challenge and Scavenger Hunt: 
Once you have a couple of days under your belt, it’s time to learn how to shop and see where your food really comes from.
    • Trip to Clothing and Fabric Markets: 
A critical step in language learning is to begin trying out tasks you do every day at home in your new language. By visiting fabric or flower markets, you will have the chance to talk a tailor about having a dress or jacket made.
    • Free Time on Campus:
 There is a lot to see on a campus this large. To make sure you have time to experience everything, you will have at least one afternoon free to spend on the campus each week. Join a pick-up soccer game or find a nice café to study.
  • Day 13

    Return to Beijing

    Catch an early train as you set off on your final adventure back to Beijing. After a train journey, explore the hutongs that Beijingers call home. Enjoy the land that boasts that it has the perfect Mandarin as you explore local streets.

  • Day 14

    The Great Wall

    Get up early and head to a remote section of the Great Wall – away from the tourists and the cities. Enjoy hiking along this picturesque section of the Great Wall and your final evening in a local guesthouse.

  • Day 15

    Homeward Bound or Off to New Adventures

    Today it’s a relaxed start. After breakfast it’s time to pack up everything and get ready for the journey onward! Head back to Beijing Capital International Airport and fly back to the U.S., or connect on to another Rustic Pathways program. Say goodbye to the friends you have made, the adventures you have had, and the country you have come to know – China!

An Important Note About Schedule Changes

Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.

The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.

“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.

“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.

For more information, email china@rusticpathways.com

Program-Specific FAQs

  • The direct flight from Los Angeles to Beijing is approximately 13 hours. The return flight to Los Angeles is a bit faster, taking 12 hours.

  • Yes. All flights between Beijing and the USA will have a flight leader starting when the students meet their flight leader in the LAX (Los Angeles) airport.

  • China requires a visa for US citizens which students must obtain themselves before departure. Information about obtaining your visa is provided with your acceptance letter. If your stay in China is longer than 30 days, please contact our office for information regarding additional visa requirements. Students who are not traveling on a US passport should check online for their visa requirements.

  • The city of Shanghai is within the Shanghai Provincial Region of the People’s Republic of China. It is on the Eastern Coast of the Country and is the largest city by population in the country. Beijing is included on this trip and Beijing is in its own municipality.

  • Rustic Pathways does not make recommendations regarding immunizations. We strongly suggest that you consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for medical recommendations based on the area where the student will be traveling (as listed above). You can also check the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov for more information.

  • Throughout mainland Asia, Thursdays are our travel days. This allows you to connect to other programs in China or other countries in mainland Asia easily, quickly, and safely. While students’ flights between programs are unescorted, they will be dropped off at the airport by their previous program leader and met at the arrival airport by their new program leader.

  • Shanghai had 4 distinct climatic seasons throughout the year, but during the Summer the city will have higher temperatures and likely an abundance of rainfall. Between June and August the average temperature will be between 82-99 degrees Farenheit, with the average high being 90 degrees.

    Shanghai can also have high humidity and large periods of rain in the months of June and July, so bringing a raincoat is highly recommended.

  • Yes! Students will receive four hours of formal instruction per day from Chinese University Professors. They will also be staying on the University’s campus which will help them practice their conversational Chinese skills as well as give them an insight into Chinese student life.

  • There are no formal service projects on this program. If you are looking for a community service addition to this program, we recommend considering adding two weeks on our Giant Panda and Wild China program in the Sichuan Province or connecting to one of our other wonderful volunteer projects in Southeast Asia.

  • This trip is not physically exerting. There are a host of optional activities that we encourage you to take part in but if you are not physically able to it will not detract from your trip.

  • The majority of costs associated with the program are included on this trip. Students should have extra allowance money if they wish to buy souvenirs, artwork or handicrafts from local artisans, want to purchase additional snacks or sodas from the local grocery stores, or for personal expenses like laundry or phone calls home.

  • There may be the opportunity for small groups of students to go out and get a foot massage or participate in special activities happening in the city that aren’t mentioned in the itinerary. This would include something such as a festival or music performance that is happening as a unique opportunity to students on a specific week of the program where there are enough students that wish to go and are accompanied by a Rustic Pathways staff member.

  • Since Rustic Pathways program costs include all meals, we prefer to stay with a strictly Chinese food diet. This is often not a hard compromise since it offers some of the best food in the world and each province offer amazing diversity for flavors and cooking methods. In addition, by sticking with the local diet, your body becomes adapted to traveling in a foreign country much easier; however, should a student really crave fast food or some sweets, we allow ample time for students to use their own money to quench this hunger.

  • Contrary to belief, China is not just about rice. In fact, often Chinese people will ask you “Do you prefer noodles or rice?” Better yet, the Chinese cuisine is one of the most suitable for vegetarians. China’s vegetable dishes are plentiful and savory and spiciness can be increased or left out all together at a simple request. One thing we do ask is that students are forthright about their food allergies, often China will use a lot of cooking oil and home spices, thus it’s important for us to know what you can and can not eat. This will not mean you go a day without food; rather the simple ingredient is asked to be left off.

  • With all of your meals and activities in China, Rustic Pathways buys bottled water for the students. Drinking tea made with boiled water presents no problems and the students can use tap water

  • Students will be staying in the dormitory housing provided by the school for a true academic and collegiate experience. The students will be partnered into pairs for their stay in the dorms. A Rustic Pathways staff member will be staying on the same floor with them.

  • Public toilets in China can be a bit unclean, and If you can avoid going to bathrooms at gas stations or in heavily trafficked locations, there are often no problems. At the dormitory all toilets will be Western-style and when eating in restaurants, the “squatters” are often clean and well-maintained. The bathroom issue is a sensitive one in China since most Chinese people prefer the squatters, believing less contact offers cleaner situations; however, we understand our students’ concerns and often can find suitable toilets throughout the day, especially in metropolitan Shanghai.

  • We expect a good mix between genders, however the exact numbers vary from week to week and usually lean to the side of more girls than boys.

  • Rustic Pathways generally strives to maintain a ratio of approximately 1 guide for every 7 students. There will be a maximum of 4 guides on this program and may vary due to group size; however, there will always be one Mainland Chinese bi-lingual staff and one Western staff with CPR/First Aid Training supervising (In addition, each group will have at least one male and one female leader.) Lastly, our guides go through a rigorous selection process including interviews with our program managers and a full background check.

  • Because we take safety incredibly seriously, all of our programs have staff that is certified with First Aid and CPR training. Many of our guides are also qualified Wilderness First Responders, EMTs, Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.

  • Students should pack reasonably for this program (more than one outfit and less than twenty). The laundry is available in the dorms for about $2 per load.

  • Students will have access to internet throughout the program, although we may take special trips to cafes or places that have wireless access for students. In addition, there are phones everywhere in China (most small, road-side shops have an International-ready line) to call home.

 Parents please remember that we will always send you safe arrival e-mails and should you have any further questions or ask that your child sends an update, please let us know and we’ll be happy to pass on a friendly reminder.


Carry-On Luggage

A small backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.

  • Passport
  • Chinese Visa
  • 2 Photocopies of passport
  • Wallet/money
  • Book and/or journal
  • Pen
  • Phone
  • Chargers
  • Camera
  • Ear plugs
  • Change of clothes
  • Reusable water bottle (Nalgene sized)
  • Medication
  • Snacks
  • Outlet power converter
  • Consent to Travel form
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts

Checked Luggage

A duffel bag or backpack is ideal. A wheeled bag is suitable if it can be carried like a duffel bag over rough terrain.

Clothing Items

  • Clothing Items
  • Underwear (12-14)
  • Socks (7)
  • T-Shirts with sleeves (7-10)
  • Long Shorts (3-4)
  • Lightweight pants/capris (1-2)
  • Jeans (1)
  • Lightweight, waterproof rain jacket
  • Pajamas (1)
  • Sneakers
  • Flip-Flops
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Towel


(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm w/sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Contacts
  • Contact solution
  • Foam earplugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Wet wipes
  • Small packs of tissues
  • Razor/shaving cream


  • Flashlight/Headlamp w/ Extra Batteries
  • Watch or Clock with an Alarm
  • Bag for dirty clothes

Optional Items

  • Chinese phrasebook
  • Portable games (Bananagrams, cards, etc.)
  • Pictures of friends and family
  • Frisbee, Aerobee, football, etc.

Important Reminders

  • Domestic airlines in China have a checked bag weight limit of 20 kilos (about 44 lbs). If your bags weigh more than this, the airline may charge you an excess baggage fee for every kilo over the allowed limit. In past years, we have had students incur SIGNIFICANT charges for excess baggage.
  • You are able to do laundry on this program
  1. a

    This is where your Chinese adventure will begin and end!

  2. b

    After arriving, head to East China Normal University – your home for the next two weeks!