A Discovery of Language, Culture, and Self Past Review

By (International/Global Studies., Kenyon College) - abroad from 02/12/2014 to 06/07/2014 with

Study Abroad Programs in China

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This was without a doubt the most incredible experience of my life; it better informed my global perspective, improved my language skills, and taught me how to handle issues in ways I had never learned to before. I knew before I left that I had always wanted to become fluent in Chinese, but spending a semester in Beijing truly brought me face-to-face with the reasons why I decided to begin learning in the first place. The more I improved my language skills, the more adventures, new friends, and cultural lessons were made available to me. I learned so much from this program and the people I met in Beijing not just about the language and culture, but about myself as well. I will most certainly be returning in the future to keep the ball rolling.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes were incredibly relevant to my major, abroad experience, and global outlook and the professors always accessible, understanding, and open to suggestions.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Directors not always accessible, but were otherwise receptive to suggestions and always checked in with us.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The on-campus location was very helpful for effective immersion into campus life, but because we lived in the international dorm, did not offer as much opportunity to mingle with Chinese students. Any element of language immersion students feel they lack in the dormitory, however, can be remedied by selecting the home stay option for the second half of the semester. The half-and-half housing opportunity offered by the program is truly ideal for experiencing both campus life and family life in Beijing.

* Food:

We were always well fed, informed of nearby/cheap food sources, and encouraged to explore new options.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

While living in Wudaokou was great for exposure to fellow college students in China, having classes with only students in the program disabled us from truly getting to the know the students on our home campus or truly integrating into the University's system.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I never felt like I was in danger and was encouraged to call our directors if I was ever in a bind. The cell phones provided by the program truly helped keep us connected to both one another and our on-site directors.

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)

Food, gifts, and personal expenses are much easier to manage in China in general, and the program covered weekly excursions, cooking classes, orientation week, and other special meals.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Around $50 USD on a regular school week.

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

Although I did a non-intensive program, the daily Chinese courses and the required meetings with our language partners kept me on the ball with my language practice and speaking skills, both in a group setting and one-on-one. Being immersed in the culture in general (ordering food, navigating the city, meeting new people) requires daily use of the language, as well.

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Intermediate
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? Frequently put yourself in speaking situations you may typically find uncomfortable or difficult, namely speaking the language one-on-one with a friend for an hour a day or navigating a new part of the city with friends.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • 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?
  • The Students and Faculty
  • The field study tour in Yunnan Province
  • The culture
* What could be improved?
  • Program organization
  • Earlier notification of schedule changes
  • More campus integration
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Do everything you can while there, even if you think you are too tired; try new things, even if you think you'll be bad at it. Speak the language as often as possible, even if it embarrasses you initially. Take advantage of all this city and culture have to offer, because the semester goes by faster than you think.