Jia Vang

Jia is an Ambassador who studied abroad in China

Major: Peace Studies

Minor: Biology

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

Coming into college, I have always consider going beyond my boundaries and challenge myself by living and being in a new and different unfamiliar environment. Not only that, when I was in high school, I was highly influenced by my Chinese teacher to always consider about going abroad because then I will get to experience adventures and things that I cannot do so here in the United States. One of the many reasons that I choose China out of all the other programs is because I want to learn more about the Chinese culture. Throughout my four years in high school, my teacher greatly influenced my desire to learn more and more about the Chinese culture. Not only do I want to expand my knowledge, but I also want to learn more about their laws as a communist country and compare that to the United States capitalist country. Apart from wanting to learn more about the Chinese culture, as a Peace studies major, my goal is to examine the interactions between human conflict, the cause of wars, and being able to maintain peace within a country or within a group. Instead of just examining and looking at the events that happens in the United States, I also want to look at and learn the international aspects of justice and peace making.

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

When I was still doing my excursions throughout China, I remember one of the experience that I had being in Beijing. Knowing a little background about Beijing, especially, Beijing being the capital of the country, I always thought that Beijing would be the province of which gives everyone an opportunity, but I remember slightly on one of the days that we were traveling, we came upon an old woman constantly bowing (kowtowing) saying something in Chinese of which I did not understand. However, as much as I did not understand what she was saying, just by her gestures and the way she was bowing constantly, I was thinking how would I feel if that old woman was my grandmother, of course, I would not want my grandmother to be in that kind of condition, and therefore, I end up giving her some money.
My fellow peers and everyone looked at me and questioned me why I decided to give out money, and in my head, all that I was thinking was I feel sorry for her, she does not deserve to lower herself to be this low in life, she should not be in this kind of condition, and most importantly, she lowered her human dignity to beg for money, with that it is already painful enough to just pass by. Of course, I was told that some beggars are good actors and begging is a career, but even so, I still want to help out because what if the one that I helped out is someone actually in need of help. There were many questions and states that went through my head, but when I think about, if I really want to be in a work field that is to reach out and help someone, this is the beginning to do so.
With this experience, it opened my eyes to see that as humans, we all have our own struggle and we all have our own financial needs. As a still very young adult, I can still work and support myself, but the old woman who is bowing and begging for money, she’s way too old to be pushing herself, in fact, at that point of her life, she should just be at home relaxing a bit because of her children but she cannot, that is why she did what she did. When I think about, I think about my grandparents, I think about human dignity, I think about everything in our world, especially our society. We see the ones who are in need, we see their pain, we see their struggles, but we choose to walk pass them as though they are invisibles. Therefore, I want to be the first person to change that even though it might a naïve mindset or the beggars may be actors, I still want to believe in the goodness of humans.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Overall, my study abroad experience was quite interesting and most memorable! The reason I said memorable is because within four months, I was able to experience things that I would never have the chance to experience if I was still here in America. I get to open my eyes to a world that is different. Of course, there were a few times where culture shock played a majority role, but at the same time, I did not let that get the best out of me. I get to see the society in which they live in, I get to learn about their traditions, cultures, language, and social norms. Overall, I do not regret one bit about investing myself into going abroad to study in China. I would say, it is a life changing experience both good and bad.

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?

Some of the benefits that I received while spending a semester abroad is the ability to be independent, perseverance, open-minded, and being more responsible. Academically, studying abroad has allowed me to understand the education in different countries have different limits, rules, and policy. We may think that the Chinese education system is either better or worse than ours, but according to them, it is a normal system. Not only that, I get to improve my Chinese language speaking skills, which I find it very beneficial, especially, if I wanted to worked internationally. Professionally, I was able to build many friendships over the course that I was in china with either CSB/SJU students or with other international students. I believe by making new friends while I was abroad, I am sure that I have also made some network through these friendships as well. Also, while abroad, I was not only able to make friends internationally, but I was able to also work with people from around the world through a educational program called X-Culture, which was taught by our CSB/SJU director. With this virtual online group project, I was able to gain the experience of working globally in the business field of which I never thought that I would have the ability to. This project that I have spent about eight to ten weeks participating have exposed me a little to what it would be like to work internationally with the different time zone and the people. Personally, I was able to open my mind to what the world really have to offer, the good and the bad.

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

Some advice that I can offer to CSBSJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad is be open-minded. In a new environment comes new struggles, adaptations, laws, and new social norms. Be prepare to go through a roller coaster of emotional of highs and lows. You will get home sick, you will get tired of the country itself, you will get tired of your Bennies and Johnnies peers, and you will just literally get tired of EVERYTHING, but even so, make sure to make the best of the four months abroad because as much as it will go by slow, it will fly by like the speed of light. For more information, reach out to CGE, talk to previous abroad students, research about the country, and talk to other people for more information. Last but not least, just embraces the adventures.