Mai Thao '20

Program: China Fall Semester

Major: Nutrition

Minor: Asian Studies


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

I have always taken Chinese as a foreign language even in high school and ever since it has been a dream of mine to visit China one day. In addition, I also felt that visiting China was going to be a huge personal mile stone, because it would force me to use the Chinese knowledge I have as well as experience the culture for myself. I saw this study abroad program as a opportunity to learn more about Chinese culture and I could not be more excited to go on this trip. In a way, I have learned so much about myself on this trip that it has served as a personal trip for myself. Like it is once said, "it's funny that I find myself when I am lost".

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

I have always heard that China have years of history and it was not until I set foot on one of its historical sites, such as the great wall, that I understood the beauty in this saying. China unlike many other countries, its history remains and one can see, touch, and even smell it. Moreover, the beautiful scenery that I saw in Lijiang, Yunnan completely won me over. The site is more breath-taking then words can describe. Even picture does no justices for the lasting beauty, it was also amazing to see the great appreciation that the Chinese culture have towards nature. Since many of these places were very-well kept.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Everyday that I was abroad was a new day to experience and learn something new about the culture. I love it, because it was like learning on my toes. For instance, I could learn a new phrase in my Chinese language class and can instantly be utilize in the real world. I love going to places that I have never been to before and seeing something new, such as walking to find the river or a new restaurant. In a sense it made me feel limitless.

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?

The benefit of studying abroad is that one becomes more culturally aware. For example, one realize that people's different culture impacts their actions. In many ways this contributes to my personal, academic, and professional development by helping me understand that it's natural for people to be different. Furthermore, I learned that difference does not mean impossible, it only means the need to develop new ways of communicating and interacting in order to efficiently problem solve. In the greatest way studying abroad has taught me not to be afraid of something that is different, but only embrace it.

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

There are no regrets one can have for studying abroad. Take this amazing opportunity, you will realize all the wonderful doors that this experience will open for you. From a personal standpoint the experience that I received from studying abroad far outweighs all of my concerns. I am glad I took this opportunity, otherwise I would have regret missing out on this chance. Like I always tell people studying abroad will allow you to learn important lessons that can only be experience. Leaving on this note I challenge any students to study abroad and take the chance of a lifetime to live in a different culture.