Shannon Elstad

­­­­Shannon is an Ambassador who did research in China

Major: Biology & French

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?

I chose to go to on the China Summer Research Program because first because I wanted to have experience working in a lab. I also love traveling and learning more about other cultures, so this seemed like the perfect way to combine both interests!

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.

One of my favorite cultural experiences was going to a hotpot meal with some of the other lab students. Hotpot is a big local food, where a pot of hot (spicy and temperature-wise) oil is placed in the middle of the table, and various foods are thrown in to cook in the oil before you eat them. It was so much fun to chat with the students as we waited for all the unique foods to cook!

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

I feel like I grew a lot through my experiences in China! We met lots of new people, and they were all very friendly, despite the language barrier. It was really interesting to see how their lab functioned, and the professor we worked with was always very kind!

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?

While in China, we were forced to be very independent and try new things that we were uncomfortable with at first. We learned how to navigate the subway, order food from a menu we didn't understand, and make travel plans in a completely foreign environment. We also gained a lot of good professional experience going through a variety of procedures in our labs.

What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?

Don't let the price tag scare you away from this trip. There are scholarships available, and China is a good place to not spend a ton of money!