Samantha is an Ambassador who did an Internship in China
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I knew I wanted a valuable chemistry research experience during the summer months to not only travel, gain time in a new lab, and also immerse myself in a new culture. The China research internship at Southwest University was the perfect fit to do just this! It blended my desire to explore the world as well as not only learn about, but live in another country as if like a local. So, I applied and couldn't have been more excited to get the opportunity to take part in the internship abroad experience in China!
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
In China we had a plethora of cultural experiences! It is often though the ones that are simple and sometimes unexpected that mean the most. Some evenings we would walk around town, down by the riverside and up into the city plaza. On our relaxing walks we would just take in all the sights and sounds of families spending time together, restaurant owners making some of the most amazing food, fishermen pulling in their nets, kids running around and women dancing in the square. This whole experience of people going about their lives was so exciting to us. Everyone in China simply makes time to enjoy life. Time seems to stand still in these moments and the hustle and bustle of the western world goes out of mind. I love this attitude towards life and am grateful that I got the chance to experience these simple moments in the lives of others that make life so very precious.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My summer internship experience was certainly an incredible one! It was amazing to get the chance to not only become incredibly immersed in a totally different culture but to also work in a biochemistry lab in another country for the summer. We worked collaboratively with undergraduate and graduate students in the laboratory on our respective research projects and also got to learn from our lab partners about experiments and their respective science topics. We also attended tutoring daily to learn some basic Chinese. In addition, we met new friends on campus, explored both campus and the nearby town, as well as eat some of the best food I have ever had! My experience was truly incredible in China!
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?
My study abroad experience academically provided me with an amazing research project to expand my biochemical knowledge. I also gained great experience on new experiments and procedures in chemical biology that I have never done before. It was also incredible to gain a wonderful network of fellow chemists and biochemists in China who I am also glad to call my friends. The experience taught me a lot about myself as well. I gained a greater ability to live independently and overcome difficulties when they arose. I also gained experiences that I believe everyone should get the chance to experience in their lives. This would be being completely immersed in a culture. Whether it be going to China not knowing any Chinese or trying to order food in another language, the experiences I gained in China were extremely life enhancing.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Go for it!! It has certainly been one of the greatest experiences in my life! College is also one of the best times to reach a little out of your comfort zone and gain new experiences. It is an incredible learning experience for yourself and will expose you to new perspectives on life. With regard to selecting a location or program, pick some place you are curious about or someplace that excites you. Also, don't be afraid to reach out of your comfort zone. My biggest advice to students would be to be open minded in everything you do! The spontaneous moments when we are open to whatever may happen and are always curious to learn is where the most incredible experiences are built.