I've read through some of the threads that come close to my questions but most are either kind of old or have few responses.
I'm an elementary level Mandarin student in America (meaning I know some pinyin but can't speak much) and trying to play a trip in April 2020 for a month studying intensively. I'm also in my early 60's, so the bar scene isn't what I'm looking for at this point. Just culture and studies. I visited Beijing last summer so spending a month someplace new, and smaller, is appealing, which puts Kunming high on my list based on location... but language is the top priority and I am very anxious about the dialect of locals.
Many of my Chinese friends here tell me to NOT study in Kunming because they say the dialect of locals will be too hard for me at my level and will make it harder for me to learn. This includes one person who grew up in Kunming.
Instead most encourage me to study in the north. Since only one said it didnt matter where I learn, that most people know standard Mandarin, I am pretty anxious about trying to speak with locals to practice if I study in Kunming.
My northern choice is a program with 2 weeks of classes in Beijing followed by 2 weeks of complete immersion in Chengde. Live with a family and study 20-30 hours a week with tutor.
I do like the idea of homestay to augment class studies, although it is scary, especially considering I'm older than most students.
The schools I know of in Kunming are Keats, which was referred to me by a friend of a friend, TenWest and Huayang. I've read all their websites and reviews on gokunming but cannot tell which is best. I do know that Keats emailed me that they no longer offer a homestay option, which was a little disappointing. But they stated the families tended to want their students to teach the family English vs. the other way around.
Please tell me your thoughts about the dialect and local schools, and how homestay work IYO.
Any and all feedback will be appreciated!