Study Abroad Interviews
Age: 21 years old
Degree:Major in Public Relations and Minor in International Studies
Prior Language Knowledge: 1 year of Chinese at MSUB and 1 month on a previous visit to China
Study abroad country:China - in the city of Changchun (means "long spring")
Length: August - December of 2008 (fall semester)
"Going abroad was definitely outside my box. I had an interest in the east and China is so far east. It is culturally so far away from what is normal, and I wanted to experience it. The mystery of China intrigued me; I want to see this mysterious and guarded country that is shut off from the rest of the world."
Would you do it again?
"In a heartbeat! I would prefer to go back to a bigger city, though, the next time I go back to China." Since Rory went to China and he broke out of the American box, he was able to take a trip to Sweden, Ireland, England, and Denmark with his sister. Also, Rory is planning on applying for a part time job in Seoul, South Korea, for spring of 2010.
What was your favorite part?
"My favorite part was making new friends who were Chinese as well as the internationals." Rory also really enjoyed going to the discos. "There was this great night club called the 'Mayflower.'"He really liked how everyone went down on the dance floor and did not really care about insecurities about dancing, but just did it.
What was your least favorite part?
"The winter weather's worse than here (Billings, MT) -- the winters arer harsh."
What was the easiest aspect of your study abroad experience?
"Making friends and contacts." Also, Rory emphasized that you should really try it out, even if your Chinese is not the best. The school there was really interested that you learned, and they were not harsh on grading. As long as you tried, they really focused on that.
What was the difficult challenge you faced studying abroad?
The hardest aspect for Rory was adjusting to the way of life. He loved China, but the standard of cleanliness was not the same as America and our particular emphasis on hygiene. Also, bartering was a new phenomenon that was very tiring for Rory. The shopping was super cheap, but you have to learn to barter. After awhile, you learn some tricks that help you get the price down on items and it just puts a whole new light on the word "shopping."
How has this study abroad affected your life now?
"I wanted to do something worth something, and now it has given me more confidence. A study abroad builds confidence." Rory talked about how this has now solidified his interest in the Chinese language and culture. He now has different life goals for his future. He wants to start international schools across the country and Asia. He told me how he would love to start up these extra-curricular schools, mainly in rural areas, to help them with their English. These areas do not have a ton of exposure to English, or the best English teachers. This type of program would really help expose the Chinese people to the English language in a place where knowing both Chinese and English is highly emphasized and encouraged.
What advice/words of wisdom would you offer students interested in studying abroad?
"One month in a foreign land is a big culture shock -- stick with it." It is just like first impressions, one must give it a bit of time to adjust, get over our own ethnocentrism (or thought that our culture is the only and right way of doing things), and experience all that the new country has to offer. Also, build for yourself a great support system. These friends that you make are going to be far away from home in a foreign land. They will be there for you when you need help or someone to talk to who understands.