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    Posted March 17, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

    My Study Abroad Experience In China - A life changing adventure.


    I chose to study abroad because I knew I would be exposed to knowledge that I can’t gain sitting inside a classroom. Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I chose China, because China is one of the early civilizations with a rich history and culture, and also because it is fast growing to becoming an economic powerhouse in the world. I believe that China is a land of opportunity and I thought studying abroad would give me the chance to learn more about the country. As a Benjamin A. Gilman Scholar, my dream of studying abroad in China became a reality. Many people believe that studying abroad is an expensive venture, but there are actually numerous scholarships available to students.
    I studied abroad in China with the INTO China Program for two months in the summer of 2013. I studied in Tianjin for one month, and Dalian for the next. I also spent some time in Beijing, sight-seeing. During my two months in China, I learned so much about the country, the culture and the language. At first, I was nervous to embark on this journey, but I realized that I couldn’t just live my whole life within my comfort zone.
    My time in China was an unforgettable experience. Everyday was a new adventure. I made life-long friends, and lasting memories. My study abroad program coordinated trips for us to learn about each cities culture, to visit cultural sights and to visit companies as well. While I was in Beijing, I climbed the Great Wall of China, visited the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium. I also had the opportunity of being stuck in a Beijing thunderstorm, bargaining in the marketplace, riding the high-speed train, and visiting the famous downtown food street. While I was in Tianjin and Dalian, I studied at Nankai University and Dongbei University of Finance and Economics respectively. I was taking Chinese language and culture courses. What I enjoyed most about my studies in China, is that whatever Mandarin I learned in class, I would use outside as well to communicate with people, whether it be taxi drivers or shop keepers. Having the opportunity to speak Mandarin everyday really fostered my learning. In the afternoons I would have culture classes where I would learn about Chinese calligraphy, Beijing opera, Chinese martial arts, and Chinese cooking among many more subjects. The mix of learning about language and culture made each day of class enjoyable and exciting.
    I believe that the key to a successful study abroad is the attitude you carry. Going to China, I had a very positive attitude. I was open minded, and flexible. I knew that of course things would be different, but I learnt to embrace these differences. I also knew that problems or conflict may arise, but I saw these as opportunities for learning. Having grown up in Kenya, and having attended international schools, I had already been exposed to a wide variety of culture. This has made me more culturally aware and more appreciative of diversity, which added to my positive attitude.
    After my study abroad experience and returning to Oregon State University, I have taken steps to continue learning about other cultures. My time in China made me more self aware, and made me assess my career goals. I am also now able to connect with Chinese students on a deeper level. I am more involved with the international students of the university, and volunteer to help students learn English. My time in China made me realize how passionate I am about diversity, and my interest in learning about other cultures. After a successful study abroad last summer, I will be studying abroad this summer in Europe, with the Semester at Sea program.

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