The seed of adventure is planted. June 14, 2014

By (PSYCHOLOGY., Arizona State University) - abroad from 05/25/2014 to 07/22/2014 with

Capital Normal University: Beijing - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a completely new perspective to review my entire life through. Things have never been the same since, in a spectacular way. I would not trade it for anything. Check out this video I made of my favorite adventure in China https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiOOyT4ECIc

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

My emphasis with picking this program, was not on the academic component, but on the overall abroad experience. I only took one class, the History of Beijing, to maximize my time outside of the classroom. While this course wasn't academically challenging, the professor was an invaluable resource into the local culture, providing tips on places to see and food to try. The best thing I gained from taking this course was befriending one of the local Chinese university students. We ate at the university cafeteria together and had weekly language exchanges. The international internship was my deciding factor with selecting this program. I wanted my abroad experience to be enriching personally, and also to be an investment for my future. I interned as an English teacher and gained hands on experience and countless lessons. Some to note were insights into the realities of teaching, adapting and navigating an international work environment, and serendipitous Tai Chi sessions with my boss. This experience was a stepping stone for my desire of Teaching English in Asia (As of this post 6/21/14, my first semester in Taiwan as a full time English teacher is coming to a close). While this wasn't academic per se, it was surely educational.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Overall the staff did an excellent job. I felt comfortable with approaching them if I had a question throughout the entire program. The on-site manager, Colin, did an excellent job at keeping everyone entertained with his wit. He provided a comforting dynamic where it was ok to stay with the group, and at the same time, he encouraged us to venture out on our own. In my mind, he was like a mother goose and we were his goslings.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

Street food has it's allure with it's cheap price and convince, but watch out! It was a little difficult finding an adequate source of vegetables from a local restaurant that I felt comfortable with, although I did not look too expensively into it. I ended up cooking the majority of my meals. There was a grocery store within walking distance, "Wu Mei," where I obtained most of my food. If you look long enough in Beijing, eventually someone will be selling it on the street or on a bridge. If you get a chance, I recommend trying the banana chips, bitter melon, durian, and dragon fruit. On second thought...just try everything at least once.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Very. CAPA's "My Education" component was pretty much a weekly pre-planned group trip to the top sites in Beijing. There was always at least one local Chinese student accompanying us. They were always pleasant and provided windows into the culture or whatever it was that we were visiting. I am very satisfied with the hands off approach of Colin, the on-site manager, who encouraged us to try as many things as possible while. In particular, the mystery bus ride: Take a random bus to the end of the line. While I did not have the pleasure to do so, I found a comfort knowing I could venture out on my own, with the fall back of the group events. My favorite My Education events were running from barricade to barricade on the Great Wall and the weekend trip to Shanghai.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I only had one bout of an upset stomach. Also, it's hard to avoid the pollution in the city, you might get the "Beijing cough." Packing a bottle of Pepto-bismol and vitamin C supplements are advised. The staff provided 24/7 emergency numbers. The one time I dialed it, I received prompt response. My home institute took care of my immunizations. The process went smoothly.

* Safety:

The best advice CAPA gave me was "walk confidently, even if you don't know where your going." I felt very safe even into the late hours of the night, although I didn't go out of my way into sketchy places. I recommend to still keep your wits about you.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

If you're not going shopping every week, then an economic food is easily manageable, especially if you order "family style."

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Tea with some international students
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Take every opportunity to practice. With the right mindset, you are essentially in a gigantic classroom and surrounded by teaches on a daily basis. One simple has to take the opporutntites when they arise. It can be as simple as practiceing "good morning" with store workers to eventually building.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Freedom and encouragement to explore
  • Professional development via the internship component
  • It's freaking China! (ok, yes, a little biased)
* What could be improved?
  • Support and processing of experiences while abroad and post abroad
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That it is totally fine to break away from the group to do my own thing.