Obies Using Languages: Natina Gilbert ’18

Natina is a third-year double major in English and East Asian Studies. Natina spent part of this past summer in Beijing studying Mandarin.

This summer I studied with the Princeton in Beijing program. It’s an eight-week language intensive meant to cover two semesters worth of language study in that time – so it truly is very intense. Students from all over the United States to learn from Professors from various parts of China. The number of Professors is huge, so that leads to small student-teacher ratios, which is great for such intense study. Class meets five days a week with weekends off, but filled with excursions to landmarks like the Great Wall.

The program is completely immersive. Everyone takes a language pledge and studies Mandarin. Because of this immersive, intense nature of the program, there are no 100-level classes, but there are four different skill levels among us; I studied at the 300-level. It was very similarly structured to Oberlin as Oberlin’s Professors do tend to model their department after Princeton’s and strongly recommend the summer program to Oberlin students. Princeton has one of the best Chinese programs in the country and was one of the first colleges to teach Chinese at all, so it’s easy to understand the major influence they have.

The best part about the immersive nature of the program is honestly the country and language itself. Since it’s such a large country everyone speaks slightly different, so it was cool to hear all the teachers from all over China or even just go to different stores daily and interact with so many different styles. It really heightened our comprehension of the language. Overall it’s a really great program and definitely lives up to it’s name. It’s very intense, but it prepares you immensely for whatever you’re going into next. I would recommend it to anybody.

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