Why did you choose your study abroad program specifically?
Studying abroad was a pretty natural decision for me. After taking Mandarin Chinese for 7 years in the classroom, my language skills had kind of plateaued. Being in Beijing with Hamilton’s Associated Colleges in China Program studying Mandarin all day every day was intense, but it really took my language skills to the next level.
What do you believe was the impact and value of study abroad for you academically and personally?
Studying in Beijing for a semester had a tremendous impact on my life both academically and personally. My mom is from Beijing, and I had been back to visit family several times, but this was really the first time I could communicate with half of my family. Academically, I’m an Asian Studies and Government double major and I happened to be in China at an incredibly politically charged time—it was the 18th Party Congress and also the Diaoyu-Senkaku Islands dispute was flaring up. I ended up doing an independent study about Chinese college student attitudes towards Japan that ended up evolving into an Honors Project back at Bowdoin.
What was the best learning moment outside of the classroom?
All my best learning moments were outside the classroom. And I learned a ton inside the classroom—so that’s saying a lot. I was traveling from Xi'An to Beijing via overnight train with a friend and we started talking with a group of migrant workers in the dining car. They had their worldly possessions in a few sacks and were going to Beijing to look for work.They had thick western accents that I could barely understand, but we ended up staying up with them almost the whole way playing dice and swapping stories.
Does international study, work or travel figure into your any of your future plans?
Yes, I’ll be heading back to China for a Fulbright year. doing research at Zhejiang Normal University (about 4 hours southwest of Shanghai). I’m looking at how local governments in China are responding to the massive influx of African immigrants that been happening over the past decade as trade-ties between China and Africa have increased. I’m very happy and proud to be representing Bowdoin abroad again!