John Kurth is an Ambassador who studied abroad in China
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study on this program for a number of reasons. I wanted to set myself apart from everyone else studying abroad and China seemed like a great way to achieve this. Also, every faculty member and alumni I spoke to, raved about China and the study abroad program. I kept hearing about how amazing China was and how China would blow my mind. I also knew China would challenge me personally so I was really wanting to challenge myself so I could get the most out of my abroad experience.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
There are so many experiences I had the opportunity to experience. I can recall just walking down the street in Beibei and seeing things that made me stop and say "what just happened?" Seeing little kids playing and running around with barely nothing. Seeing a woman walking down the street with a live duck in a bag. I also took a weekend to travel to parts of China by myself or in a relatively small group. I was planning a lot of the trip so I had to figure out plan the trip for myself and the group. This was definitely an experience as I was not fluent in Mandarin.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Honestly, my study abroad experience has not completely soaked in yet. There are so many things I am just beginning to realize or things which are just beginning to sink in from my trip. The trip was amazing and definitely opened my eyes to tons of things. I learned to appreciate things in America and Minnesota but I also learned about a different style of thinking. I learned a lot about myself as a person. I met people from across the world and am staying in touch with them. It was a terrific experience, which I will never forget and this study abroad experience with stick with me forever.
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
The biggest benefit for me was learning about myself. Studying abroad really gave me time for personal reflection about my own beliefs, values, and principals. China is so different from America that you begin to think about everything differently. Academically, I am becoming more global. I have decided to now double minor, with one of my minors being Asian Studies. Professionally, I met some contacts while in China and I also expanded my views for my own entrepreneurial goals. Since, I am also an E-Scholar I was looking for ways to develop entrepreneurial ideas and China definitely helped in all these regards.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
My advice is to take advantage of everything you can. You might think you have all this time abroad but in all actuality you don't so do and see as much as you can. The experiences you get abroad will stay will you for a really long time, if not forever so make the most of the experiences and your time abroad.
Do you have any questions about study abroad in China or want to have access to my blog? Email John at email@example.com