The American girl who fell in love with the Chinese people and culture. April 30, 2019

By (Utah State University) - abroad from 03/06/2019 to 03/18/2019 with

Utah State University: USU Go Global Asia, Hosted by the Asia Institute

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I am from the U.S. That being said, my culture is different from the Chinese culture. I learned how a different type of government system than the one I am used to, can work and benefit a people. I learned just how ingenious the Chinese culture was in ancient times, and continues to be today. I actually found that I liked a lot of the differences that I experienced, and found myself wishing that the U.S. would adopt some of those practices. Namely, the respect the others show their peers, the way that meals are held and addressed, and how hard working the people are as a culture. I was very impressed with the Chinese people.

Review Photos

Utah State University: USU Go Global Asia, Hosted by the Asia Institute Photo Utah State University: USU Go Global Asia, Hosted by the Asia Institute Photo Utah State University: USU Go Global Asia, Hosted by the Asia Institute Photo Utah State University: USU Go Global Asia, Hosted by the Asia Institute Photo Utah State University: USU Go Global Asia, Hosted by the Asia Institute Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The student guides were incredibly kind and knowledgeable. They were very professional in their demeanor and kind. The outside guide that was hired and traveled around with us in Beijing was amazing. I learned a lot about the different places we went to, cultures and people that we visited being with our guide, than I would have being on my own.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The few times that I met with the host country program administration, they were extremely kind and welcoming. What I did like and appreciate, was that I could tell that specific care and training had taken place in preparing our particular guides. From our student guides's model behavior, I could tell that they had received wonderful training, and had an accessible administration, because of their attentiveness to the other students who were on the trip.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The hotels that were selected were awesome. Each of the hotels were well maintained, clean, and i felt safe in the areas that we were in. I thought several times during my experience that when I do go back to China, that I want to go back and stay in those same hotels.

* Food:

Our guides did a fantastic job in selecting different dishes that both gave me personally a chance to try new types of food that I normally would not. I found that I really enjoy Fish Soup, and I can say that I have tried and somewhat enjoy Frog Legs. Even though I personally have an allergy to Pork, our guides were very cognizant and made sure that if there was Pork in a dish, that I was made aware of it before hand, and other dishes were ordered so that everyone could enjoy the meal. I thoroughly enjoyed the cuisine in China, largely in thanks to our guides.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Our guides did a great job in preparing us for each event and location we attended. I had a general idea of what to expect, each and every time that I got off the bus. If i observed something that I did not understand, our guides were very gracious in explaining that item or event to me in a way that not only helped me to understand what was going on, but also allowed me to expand my cultural understanding. There were a few situations that come to mind, where I wasn't certain what was going on. So I was able to ask the guides for an explanation, or clarification. They both were very kind in helping me to broaden my cultural understanding, and more importantly, create a deeper appreciation, love and understanding for the Chinese culture. My favorite culture interaction was at the Temple of Heaven. One of the guides and I became really good friends. She explained how the people who were likely to be at the Temple of Heaven would be people from more rural cities, and wouldn't have had a lot of exposure to Westerners. So I should expect people to want to take pictures with me. With her having prepared me for their mannerisms, and mode of communication ( because my attempts to speak Mandarin were that of a little child speaking Mandarin), allowed me to have an incredible, and memorable interaction with a mother and her adorable toddler who wanted to take pictures with me. It was a small interaction, but it meant a lot to me personally, and I attribute that memorable moment for me to the preparation I received from the guides.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The air quality during our trip to Beijing wasn't the best on some days. Our guides made sure that we had our masks, and frequently reminded us to use them. I personally caught a cold on the plane before we arrived in China, and our guides were very sweet in asking if I needed anything.

* Safety:

Our school made it very clear that we were to be in the buddy system at all times. That being said, there were a few moments where I personally hung out with the guides during some of the site visits. They made the experiences fun and memorable.

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

I became good friends with the student guides on our trip, and have maintained contact with them. I am planning on returning to China, and am wanting to go back and see more of the country with these incredible people. In all honesty it was largely due to the hard-work, dedication, and kindness of the guides that made the trip as memorable as it was. I had a good opinion of China before I went, but having experienced the culture and people for myself, I now have a deep love and respect.

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)

The program is expensive, but for us the inflation in China is high so items were very affordable.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I took approximately $400USD that had been converted into Chinese Yuan. I also had an extra $100USD for when I returned to the states. I spent a total of $600-$700USD outside of the trip expenses.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Pick items that you want to get in China (or any other country) before you go. That way you roughly have an idea of what the items are going to cost, and are then able to put extra money aside. To save money, bring some granola bars, or protein powder which will help tide you over between meals.

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

Our program went to China, and we were encouraged to learn several phrases before we went. While we were there we were highly encouraged to use the little Mandarin that we had learned. I personally learned a lot more Mandarin while I was there thanks to the guides that we had, who were very happy to help expand our Mandarin vocabulary. At the end of the program I felt very comfortable getting around the city without the guides, and being able to communicate my needs to other people I came into contact with in different shops.

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? There wasn't a formal course that we had to complete, just to pass the phrases test that we were assigned.
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? I used Duo-Lingo, and studied Mandarin before I went to China. I personally felt that the daily practice helped me quite a bit.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Other
* 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 culture/sites we visited.
  • Immersing myself in a new culture; namely trying different foods, music and way of doing things.
  • Meeting new people and creating relationships with them.
* What could be improved?
  • On the program's side? Nothing.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That the people I met in China appreciated me using the little Mandarin that I knew. I would have put more time and a concentrated effort in learning Mandarin.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'