Seeking Opportunities Through China: A Perspective from A Former Student Mentor

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The US-China Strong Foundation's mission is to increase the number of Americans studying Mandarin and studying abroad in China.

When I studied abroad in Beijing, I developed a concept called “3 Chinas” to make it easier to discuss my study abroad experiences with my fellow peers. As a former study abroad mentor, I wanted to make a stronger case for why more Americans should study abroad in China, and to dispel potential misunderstandings. In the first stage, China was new and overwhelmingly exciting. I visited the famous landmarks and feasted on traditional Chinese dishes while I settled into living abroad. After an academic semester, I entered the second stage of China. In this phase, my language skills improved, I learned most of the transportation systems, and I could complete simple transactions in Chinese. As I returned to class, I entered the third phase of China. In this stage, those who live in China one year gain awareness of the societal and geopolitical issues that affect the country, and how they are interconnected other nations.

Studying abroad in China is an ideal for students of international affairs and political science. Due to it’s increasing geopolitical ties with Africa, South America, and Europe, students who pursue a regional focus in these areas may find strong diplomatic ties to China and a fascinating area of specialization. Also, students in the STEM fields will find opportunities in academic research at the undergraduate level. Research experience along with language proficiency, and experience living abroad makes for a strong candidate when applying for competitive graduate programs as they are seeking prospective student candidates who demonstrates academic excellence, cultural adaptability, and self-motivation.

In regards to professional opportunities, a job candidate who has experience studying abroad in China and seeks to work in a Chinese company is an ideal candidate because of cultural and linguistic fluency. Thus they can navigate the language barrier, corporate “culture,” and business practices to ease the process of negotiations. Studying abroad in China offers professional and personal opportunities that are rewarding and enriching. Furthermore, only 10 percent of Americans study abroad overall, with a smaller percentage who have studied abroad in China. Thus, if you decide to study in China, you will be part of a network of Americans who have experience living in China who lend a unique voice to nurturing U.S-China relations in the 21st Century.

Isabella Greene is part of the US-China Strong Foundation Student Ambassador Program.