Lor is an Ambassador who studied abroad in China
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I just wanted to get out of the country. I've been in the States since I've arrived from Thailand 13 years ago. I chose China because since I was little, I heard stories of how the Hmong people migrated from China to multiple Asian countries then outward into different continents. Going to China is like completing a full circle of the great migration of the Hmong. At the same time, Chinese food is basically Hmong food, just cook differently with a whole lot of oil.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Taxi drivers in China have a reputation for scamming people. However, this doesn't mean that they're all bad. On October 21st, after getting back to the Southwest International College from having dinner with friends, I unfortunately left behind my phone in the taxi. Once I realized this, I knew that there is zero chance that I'll get it back. Less than 24 hours later, I went and retrieved my phone at the College of Pharmaceutical Science within the Southwest University from a Chinese woman. This was how everything went "up". My phone was found by the taxi driver, who took it to a campus security. Then that security took my phone to his female friend who works at the College of Pharmaceutical Science. Who then give it to the English-speaking professor that answered my call the next day. There were good and bad, but this was definitely a memorable thing.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Studying abroad in China is like living in a flipped world. Everyday things are cheaper. Classes were easier. The environment is a layback and chill lifestyle in Chongqing. Status is a big part of identity in China. Whereas here, you can start up a conversation with anyone regardless of their title. Overall, it’s good to experience how other people live. This might make you appreciate your lifestyle a little more, or less.
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?
Studying abroad will test your ability to stay sane in a place where all you want to do is just come home. There were a few times when I felt like I just didn't want to deal with things around me. I started to question why I was even in China when I could be in a different country. It was always the after effect that made me appreciated my experience in China. It is true that I look Chinese, therefore things shouldn't be as hard for me there. Unfortunately, that's a lie. Anywhere and anytime regardless of what I look like, is a test to my identity as a Hmong minority woman. It gives me the foundations to build myself up onward.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
The point of going abroad is to explore, learn, and appreciate a country and culture that is different from your own. It's a fact that things will be different. Go with an open mind and heart to experience their ways of life. See what they're all about and learn to live the way they do. Don't forget to appreciate their histories because it's part of them as much as your history is a part of you. If you can't appreciate their differences, you might as well not go.