Monday, December 10, 2018
The In-Depth Guide to Traveling Abroad with CHI
The purpose of the World Explorers program by Cultural Homestay International (CHI) is to help adults who wish to travel abroad explore new places, exchange their language and culture, and experience life abroad. CHI has been helping adults travel to top destinations in Europe, Asia, South America, Latin America, and Africa since 1980. The World Explorers program is offered in 25 countries
My roommate and I decided that the best way we could spend our winter break was to commit to a program that would be sending us over 1,000 miles away from home for a month. Without much resistance, my roommate and I signed up to travel abroad two days after the spring semester would end. And to top it off, we were going to be spending over a day traveling to reach our destination—Beijing, China.
The requirements to be a participant in the World Explorers program is to be fluent in English, to teach Conversational English with the host family for 15 hours a week, and to have fun. The last part is the most important. Getting to know the culture and meeting new people are what will stick with most people. Living with a host family will be a life changing experience that will change how people view the world. Suddenly, the world isn’t as large as it once was.
After the first week with my host family, I noticed that my English lessons were going to be far more interesting than I had imagined. Every lesson involved exploring the neighborhood—Fengtai District, southwest Beijing—while playing and practicing our English with nearly every person we saw. Through the many conversations my host sister and I had, we learned that we were a great team that effectively helped others with their English. We both concluded that we weren’t that different from each other and that we would be lifelong friends (sisters).
All participants who wish to become a World Explorer should apply at least three months before arriving in one of the 25 countries. Once the initial application process is finished, all participants are interviewed by a professional staff member at CHI. The interview assists participants in understand the requirements of the World Explorers program and what to expect once they’re in a new and exciting country. CHI staff is available for anyone who needs assistance in purchasing travel and medical insurance.
On another cold, blustery winter day in January, my roommate and I signed up for an opportunity of a lifetime. Since we applied for the World Explorers program together, we were given a discount. As new travelers, we both sought to be as ready as possible and applied for our trip to China exactly four months before we arrived. This gave us ample time to apply for our visa, purchase plane tickets, and meet our host families through WeChat, purchase travel and medical insurance, and ask as many questions as possible so we would be as ready as we could be when we arrived.
CHI immediately starts the process of finding host families for participants once the interview process finishes. This takes time. Some locations offer the opportunity to pick the city a participants would like to be placed. Be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of picking a city outside the normal location. Some participants may have an option between several host families. If this is an option, read over the host family’s information carefully and notice what the family’s hobbies are. Match interests, hobbies, and sports to make the most out of the experience.
I was on edge all February as I waited to see who my host family was. As I impatiently checked my email every day, twice, I slowly watched the snowy landscape disappear. Spring was on the way for Wisconsin. Or I thought. In the earliest part of the morning in the first week of March, I was emailed with two separate host families. The decision wasn’t easy, but as school was cancelled because of the impending snow apocalypse, I picked a host family familiar with Americans. The snow apocalypse didn’t come in March as expected but on the third week of April with an inch of ice and 26-30 inches of snow on top.
The World Explorers program is offered in over 20 countries with options to stay in one of the countries for 1 to 3 months. Recently, there are opportunities for World Explorers to take a GAPYear where participants can stay in different countries for 3 months each (twelve months total). The World Explorers Program is available year-round. The World Explorers program is great for anyone traveling on a budget. Some of the 20 countries in the World Explorers program cost less than $10 a day.
Silently, I contemplated my options. I didn’t have much to do otherwise, the doors to the dorms were snowed shut and the RA’s warned all students to stay indoors until after the snowplow and workers made the entrance and exit accessible. My original idea was the stay in China for three months, but since my roommate and I had never left the U.S. before, we opted for a 1 month stay. It wasn’t until after I was about to return home in late June that I wished I had decided on the 3 month stay.
CHI has made the World Explorers program even more accessible for potential and return participants. In 2019, all participants save 10% on the already affordable prices on the program. Make sure to let CHI know that you heard about this program from Heather and enter in the discount code: WETRAVEL19. As an added bonus, all alumni of the World Explorers program will receive a 20% discount on the next World Explorer program they take part in. The point system is available for all locations with some countries only needing 3 or 4 points to earn a free trip. If you wish to learn more about any of these amazing offers, contact CHINET.ORG/WE.
If it wasn’t for all the amazing support from Heidi, the World Explorers Manager, I wouldn’t have been able to have such an amazing time while in the program. My experience in China made such a positive impact in my life that I plan on returning this summer and every summer after to see my host family. Thank you!
The World Explorers program is an opportunity for travelers to experience more than a new culture. Each of the 20+ countries offer life-changing experiences where participants eat local cuisine, learn a new language, can earn college credits, and volunteer in local schools. For anyone interested in ESL or tutoring English, the World Explorers program is a great place to start.
Since freshman year of high school, I was always dreaming about traveling to faraway places hoping for a change in scenery and to learn a new language. My dream came true 8 years later as I arrived in Beijing, China. With my experience in the public school systems in Wisconsin, academic tutoring background since high school, and my passion to work with children, I fit well into the World Explorers program. I learned so much from my experience that I’ve been welcomed to take part in a non-profit that works with North Korean refugees. I know that my career will only continue to grow as I continue to experience new cultures.
The reviews for the World Explorers program is outstanding. On GoAbroad.com Cultural Homestay International has a 9.3 out of 10 stars. Visit GoAbroad.com to read the reviews from past participants of programs offered by CHI. There are many options available for people outside of the U.S. including participating in the World Explorers program and GAP Year.
The application process was easy and I was in contact with someone from CHI right away. I give the World Explorers program a 10 out of 10 stars. Beijing was the best and my host family was very welcoming. I was able to experience many new things, like public transportation, and met new friends from other countries.