Sarita Tabor is an Ambassador who studied abroad in China.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
When we were in Hong Kong, at the very end of our semester abroad, I went with a small group of young women across the city to go to the beach. We reached our destination by walking, riding several buses, and riding a ferry. Afterwards, I realized how amazing that was. At the beginning of the trip, we might have been hesitant to travel on our own in the big cities of China, especially as women, but there we were, on our own in a city we barely knew. I hope to take that spirit of confidence and independence with me for the rest of my life.
Why did you choose the program in which you participated?
I wanted to see a world completely different than my own, and I picked China because it has one of the most different, and challenging, cultures offered by CSB/SJU Study Abroad programs. I challenged myself by putting myself way out there and went to China, without any prior knowledge of the Chinese language!
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
It was life-changing. Some days were better than others, and a lot of times I was not comfortable. I pushed myself, and I learned a great deal. I made friends with people from all around the world, not just China, that I still treasure today. If you're thinking about going to a program because it would be a good vacation spot for a semester, you're not in the right mindset for study abroad. Studying abroad is about pushing yourself beyond what's comfortable, and China will certainly do that for you. You will never regret going to China.
How has the trip affected you? How are you different for having completed the experience?
I feel more confident. Coming from a small town, I was nervous to be in such large cities where I would have to hail a cab and explain to the cab driver where I needed to go in a language I barely knew. Now, that seems like a piece of cake. I just know that I can do more now than before when my confidence may have been weaker
What advice do you have for future Study Abroad Students?
Don't apply to a program just because that trip will be the most comfortable! The whole idea behind studying abroad is to learn by pushing your limits and getting out of your comfort zone. Try to go to places where the native language is not English. Once you're there, fully immerse yourself in the people, the food, the music, and the language of the culture. Only when you push yourself, will you come back feeling changed.