Minds Abroad

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7.7 / 10 after 3 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings
Program website: www.mindsabroad.com

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Dissapointing experience / Maybe good for young teenagers (18-24) for volunteering/internships but for mandarin classes, go elsewhere !

After searching for some mandarin class around China online and reading a good article into my city newspaper concerning a ''school'' calls Minds Abroad, I decided to go ahead and book with them to learn mandarin (Weekly Morning Class Program) for 12 weeks (1 week = 299$ low season price) / 3 months / 16h per weeks / 4 hours per day including accommodation (1 week private apart =149$) + food 3 times a day + mobile during my stay + Kunming bus card + airport pickup + others fees for a total of 5900 US$.

First, let me tell you straight, this company is not a ''school'', it's a company who wants to make money, that's all ! They just manage your money, you need an internship, sure we can help you, you need volunteering, sure we can help with you, you need mandarin class, sure we can help you, you need an furnished shared apart, sure we can help you... Now, you can read between the lines.

In my case, well, it started in May when I sent them an email concerning my interest for their school. Finally, the whole process to join the program + transferring the money last at least 2 months....I had sometimes to check with them because I was not having answers, concerning some details (Chinese visa, apart,....) After all, I finally arrived in Kunming where someone from the staff came to pick me up at the airport on a Sunday, I received some informations/ documents, a city map, my mobile and my bus card. It was a good start and I said to myself, cool, a professional company. I was supposed to start my class the next day, Monday morning but my teacher couldn't attempt.... During my 3 months there, my class was located into a building on the old campus of Yunnan Arts University. From the outside, it looks modern and new but once inside, I can't say I was expecting this and it didn't worth the money I invested with them class #1 (http://lookpic.com/O/i2/819/Zlpj27ev.jpeg). Where was the modern classroom, the new China that I was expecting ? Forget it, old building, high school students, running everywhere and using this campus as a second school, smelly classroom, sometimes I had to move into another classroom (class #2 http://lookpic.com/O/i2/1842/ldGkco8x.jpeg) where the roof was leaking and the floor full of garbages, into that classroom, I felt like I was somewhere in Africa..., unacceptable! But Minds Abroad didn't care, they just want your money...The only good thing, was my teacher. She was professional and friendly. Knowing, she was only earning 10$ for 4 hours of class while I was paying 75$ for 4 hours, that's means that Minds Abroad takes 65$, WoW ! What a rip off !!!

Now, concerning the food, you have to know that the lunch and dinner are served at their office in downtown Kunming into a office tower. So everyday, you have to go there to eat Chinese food cocked by a Chinese ''mama'' into their office, an apart located on the 22 floor. The 4/5 young Chinese staff (around 25 years old) were ok, actually not too friendly, they didn't really care about us (the students) too much. I met only 1 time the boss, Carl, he was away in the US for some business for the 3 months while I was there, so I guess the Chinese staff was free to do whatever they wanted. When I was asking some questions, I felt like I was bothering the staff most of the time, not too professional at all and not customer friendly as well into my opinion. It might be the Chinese culture....They were more ''busy'' preparing next year calendar + activities for the future students for 2014 than caring about the only ''4 current students'' that we were during this time, which was low season...Read between the lines !

Now, concerning the apart, I finally declined the private apart who was located too far away (45minutes bus ride) from the University and their office and decided to stay into the Minds Abroad shared apart/shared room/shared bathroom (99$ per week/instead of 149$ private room) with the other students. They didn't want me to give me back the money, I had to fight to get the difference and they wanted to give me back the money, only 2 weeks after I leave Kunming, unacceptable! After arguing with the staff + sending emails to their boss, I finally had my money back. This shared apart was located about 25 minutes walk from their office or 5 minutes bus ride. Many times, I had to run after the staff and repeat them to buy water and food (yogurt/bread/fruits) for us for the morning because they never thought about checking the fridge, very annoying... As well, one of the cock who was as well the ''official maid'' for our apart, resigned and for 3 weeks ...our apart was dirty, garbage full, nobody cared ! On the website, it says twice a week that a maid comes to clean,..... ! I had to clean a bit and throw garbage myself sometimes even if some staff of Minds Abroad was staying with us, they didn't even clean too much.... Nobody cared! By staying with young teenagers, sometimes it's difficult because they don't clean after themselves too....Once, Minds Abroad forgot to pay for the wifi, so for 2 days, no wifi, we had to go to coffee shops.... Another thing, it took them 2 weeks after I told them to have an hairdyer, because the one into the apart was broken....During my 3 months with them, only one time, someone from the staff asked me, ''how's your class'' and ''how's your teacher'', nobody cared actually ! On my last day, no ''Thank you for chosing us for your 3 months'' or no ''Goodbye'', no nothing ! Read between the lines !

Conclusion, very disappointing experience with this company, expensive as well for what it was, not customer friendly at all, false publicity on their website, they only care about your money, I'm sorry but I do not recommend this company ! Don't make the same mistake as me, I'm sure, you can find a ''real school'' if you want to learn mandarin in Kunming or somewhere else in China !

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 19, 2013
Overall:
5
Support:
3
Value:
4
By: Julien
Age:
33

My adventures in Kunming, China

Last summer, as a way to explore China, I enrolled in Minds Abroad study program in Kunming. Of all places, I chose to come to this city because I knew it would be very unique, unlike the busy hustling cities in Shanghai and Beijing. Although I came here not knowing much about its culture, I learned an incredible amount about this place through my teacher whom Minds Abroad arranged for me, and by immersing myself with all the people here in this place. I was so grateful for my teacher--it was a 2 way blessing--she had valuable first hand experiences to share and a real heart for teaching, and I wanted to soak up everything I could learn during class. Because my teacher did her graduate studies on the culture of minority people, I had the privilege of learning valuable things about this subject, so much that it inspired me to return again this year (which I will share later). Of the 55 minority groups in China, at least 25 of them live here in Yunnan alone! This is what makes this place so diverse and beautiful. I applied my learning on a day trip to the Minority Village, south of Kunming. Inside the village I got a birds eye glimpse of all minority cultures-- I tried their food and drinks, and enjoyed their songs and dances. I even had photo shoots wearing a Bai minority outfit to keep for memory.
My stay was very pleasant - Minds Abroad friends made me feel at ease being in a foreign country, and made me feel supportive and offered to help in any way.I met friends from the program, as well as local friends.Initially I was afraid of getting lost on my own, but very soon did I find myself on my own.

During my time in Kunming last year, one of the favorite moments was in the classroom. As I learned about Yunnan culture, a passion for the minority people grew in me. The people are special and their culture is so unique. Although their socioeconomic level may not be superior, I still regard them as innocent, talented, and full of potential. As a community health nurse and a lover of music, I wanted to return this summer to work among minority groups and to connect with them however I can, because they deserve love. It is not easy living out of my comfort zone, across the world in an unfamiliar culture and lifestyle, away from friends and family, but a part of me gives me the courage to do so.

Program:
Location:
Posted: April 21, 2012
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9
By: ruth929
Age:
32