Sarah is an Ambassador who studied abroad in China
Major: Political Science-International Relations
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I had always wanted to go to China. I remember Skype-ing a friend and talking about my study abroad decision, and I told her that I was thinking China. The response I got from her was "FINALLY, that is all you had talked about!" Growing up, my family has always instilled values of learning about different cultures. I have found the most meaningful experiences in my life are when I was challenged to look beyond my own beliefs and customs and gain a wider understanding.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
While the terracotta warrior were fabulous, and the Great Wall was spectacular, my favorite memories were the simple things in China that made the most impact. For example, everyday we would go outside our building and play a sport, whether it was soccer, badminton or volleyball. I felt that was the best place to meet new people because you did not have to speak Chinese, Thai, Russian, or anything other than the sport that you were playing. I also felt it was nice to talk to new people, and when you introduce yourself, you express what country you are from. It seems so little, but I feel that it was a good connection to the global world we live in and a reminder that there is more out there.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I cannot even begin to comprehend and express my study abroad experience. I know it is cliché to talk about how much I have grown, how much I have discovered a new global perspective, met so many new people, tried so much delicious food (that I now crave!), and done so much to push myself out of my comfort zone. My experience was amazing, and looking back I can truly say that a little part of me remains in China. The classes were fun and informative about the Chinese culture and offered a new perspective of learning. There were so many opportunities to dive into the culture, such as eating the delicious food or bargaining at the market.
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 the United States has strong history, it is so small compared to countries such as China. I wanted to experience a place where I would be pushed outside my comfort zone with another culture, language, way of life, food, religious identity and more. I definitely learned a lot about myself, and the experience has given me the confidence to keep trying new ideas. My goal while in China was to immerse myself in something new and gain a better appreciation of the United States, China, myself, and of course CSB/SJU. Another factor of going to China is that I am a Political Science major with my focus in International Relations. There is only so much you can learn through textbooks, and I knew that I needed to travel in order to see first-hand something new. China is a growing power in our ever-changing world, and I was glad to enhance my global perspective, especially as it has helped me receive internships and job opportunities.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
This was a life-changing experience that you will not regret. Having the opportunity to go to another country with an incredible group of people whom you can relate to as well as being able to bring the community of CSB/SJU out into the world is truly unique. I say, challenge yourself and try something new!