Shoua is an Ambassador who studied abroad in China
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I have always planned to study abroad when I am in college. One thing that caught my attention about CSB/SJU was the high percentage of students who study abroad. Everyone tells me that studying abroad is one of their favorite memories about college, and no matter what you experience, you would not regret doing it. I have always wanted to go to China some day because I love watching their historical dramas, love the look of their traditional buildings, I have always wanted to learn Chinese, I love lights and China is known for their night life, I wanted to see my favorite animal (pandas!), the program provided classes that fulfils some credits that I need to graduate, to trace back to my ancestor’s roots, and because the China program is one of the most affordable programs.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
There was a time I went to the market near campus to buy fruits. On my way back, I saw an old woman selling 2 full baskets of oranges. Everyone was just walking past her while she was asking they want to buy some of her oranges. I had already bought fruits, but I felt bad for the woman. It was not a place where many people pass by, therefore I was thinking that she might not get a lot of profit. I walked up to her and pointed to the oranges and said, “I want to buy” in Chinese. She probably thought I was Chinese too, because she started talking a lot in Chinese, but I couldn’t understand anything she was saying. She was smiling and very friendly. I held up 4 fingers to tell her that I only want 4 oranges, but she pointed to her scale (to weight the oranges and pay by kilograms) and held up more oranges to put on the scale. I didn’t know what the cost per kilo was, but I knew that most market sells 4 for about $2, so I just said okay for her to put a couple more. She put 8 total, and I asked her to stop. She weighed it and said it costs 6 Yuan, which is equivalent to less than $1. I gave her an extra yuan, but still felt bad. She was selling them for such a cheap price, however, I only had less than a week left in China and wouldn’t be able to finish eating all those fruits.
That experience reminds me of my own culture in some ways. That was also like a reality check for me. There are many people who have to work very hard, but earn little, and still work with every little they have. Some people want more than what they have, without considering how there are people in the world with less, but are satisfied with that they have. There are many other experiences that were eye opening to me.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Overall, my experience was one that I would never forget. I got close with my China group, even though I didn’t know half of the group before the trip. I also gain a lot of time to myself, which is something I have been lacking for years. I learned so much about China’s cultures, their minorities, their lifestyles, their history, their language, and so many other things. The excursions were one of my favorite part of the program because I got so many things off my bucket list. If I could, I would choose to do this program again. I enjoyed the classes and the professors there and gained some new international friends. I am already missing it there.
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?
I have learned and experienced so much while I was abroad. I learned how to be independent and more responsible. I managed my financial situation by myself and I did some exploring around the province by myself, which are things many people are afraid to do in a place they are unfamiliar with. I also struggled with the language barriers but found ways to work around it, such as by pointing at things, holding up fingers, or using google translate. The friendships that I have gained from this trip may be beneficial in the future if I want to work or intern abroad someday. I have also gain the skill of working with people from different countries, which is something I might have to do someday with my finance track.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Be open-minded and don't expect too much or too little. Studying abroad can be a challenge, an adventure, and learning experience all together. Make sure to learn about the country before you go there, talk to the program's ambassadors, and other people who has been to that country. Lastly, don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. You will miss a lot if you always stay inside your comfort zone.