By Ronni Lee
For Northwest Asian Weekly
As a junior at the University of Washington, I want to make the most of my college career. I believe that studying abroad is one way to make a memorable college experience. This will be my last summer to go abroad before I graduate.
I will be taking full advantage of this and will be studying abroad in China from June to September. Going abroad for an international education is something that I feel every student should experience at least once.
Last summer, I took an intensive second year Chinese language course in Sichuan. Once there, I studied Mandarin in its native environment, made new friends, experienced the student life, and ate spicy and tasty Sichuan food.
The focus of the trip was to learn and improve my proficiency in Mandarin. Being immersed in the culture was a key factor in rapidly improving my Chinese. I stayed in the student dorms at Sichuan University, experiencing true campus life.
While learning Chinese, I was partnered with a personal tutor who helped me with homework. Not only did my tutor help me with homework, but he also played the role of my language partner by correcting and helping me practice my Mandarin.
Experiencing and living the student life in China is vastly different from life in America. The university campus is about eight times bigger than UW’s campus, making walks to the classrooms seem like a long journey. The university offers a mass variety of fields for students to study in, and the list of activities to do is endless. The numerous outdoor basketball courts, soccer fields, badminton courts, and ping-pong tables on campus are always being utilized by students. Life in Sichuan was definitely relaxing. Studies and fun activities were continuously being intermixed.
After finishing my Chinese studies in Sichuan, I traveled to Beijing to embark on another study-abroad trip. In Beijing, I continued my Chinese studies at the third-year level and took Chinese cultural lectures at Tsinghua University. Additionally, I went to the common sightseeing locations in Beijing, which included the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Bird’s Nest, Water Cube, Temple of Heaven, and many more.
During this last trip, I focused more on the Chinese culture and though I was continuing my Chinese studies, life in Beijing was different from life in Sichuan. The university campus is even bigger than Sichuan University’s, forcing me to allot at least 40 minutes or more in walking time before reaching my classroom building. My “journey” walks at Sichuan University turned to “road trip” walks at Tsinghua University. With a bigger campus, the number of students increased and it felt as if the campus was its own city. With all the walking in Sichuan and Beijing, it is apparent why riding bikes is so popular in China.
This summer, I plan to study abroad in Shanghai and Nanjing, participating in two different study-abroad trips as I did last summer. In Shanghai, I will improve on my current Chinese, studying at the fourth-year level. However, the emphasis of the trip is the provided internship. While taking Chinese classes in the morning, I will also have an internship in the afternoon. I know my experiences in China are similar in many ways, but they are different each time I go back. It is because of this that I always go back to China to finish my adventure.
As an unemployed student, I applied for numerous scholarships to fund my trips. There are many scholarship organizations that encourage students to study abroad and offer considerable amounts of money to help students make their international education possible.
Such scholarships include the Gilman International Scholarship, Diversity Abroad Scholarship, AmeriSpan Scholarship, and many more. AmeriSpan offers scholarships, as well as study-abroad trips to college students and students as young as 13 years. They offer numerous scholarship opportunities to help students pay their program fees. ♦
Check out AmeriSpan for more information at www.amerispan.com or at 1-800-879-6640.
Ronnie Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.