Hometown: Clinton, NC
Study Abroad Program: CEI in Beijing Summer
Before flying to Beijing, I was very unsure what to expect. After all, this would be my first time flying on a plane and traveling to a foreign country. On the flight from Newark, NJ to Beijing, China, I prepared myself for an experience that would most certainly become the experience of a lifetime. Once the plane landed, after spending an additional 30 minutes in a holding pattern above Beijing, I begin taking in the sights and sounds of Beijing (well at least the small part around me). After grabbing my luggage it was time to meet the other people in the CEI in Beijing Summer 2009 Program.
After arriving at the Capital Normal University, a wave of culture shock hit me with unbelievable force. From the continuous flow of Mandarin Chinese to the unfamiliar neighborhood, I felt completely out of place. Within that first few weeks, I adjusted to my new surroundings, which allowed me to starting living in this experience instead of existing in this experience. Living in an experience gives way to unforeseen surprises and understanding about the events that are occurring around you. However, it soon became apparent that this was more than an experience; this was becoming a transformative journey. As the fast pace of my internship with Qunar, Inc. and three courses at Capital Normal University intensified, I sometimes felt that this was an impossible task. Nevertheless, I soon realized that I had a purpose in Beijing and that learning to rise above seemingly impossible tasks is an important part of life.
Looking back on my study abroad journey in Beijing, not only have I grown as a student but also as a person, which is something that I wanted before embarking on this journey. The Phillips Ambassadors Program allows students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to embark on unforgettable journeys throughout Asia. As a Phillips Ambassador, I now feel better prepared for future business ventures and opportunities in Asia (specifically China).
Additionally, as Phillips Ambassadors, we have the unique opportunity to share our experiences from Asia with members of our campus community and members of our hometowns. As a person from a very small town (Clinton, NC), I find that studying abroad is something that is not widely discussed while in high school. By exposing high school students and middle school students to the notion that going to another country is both possible and encouraged, I believe that society as a whole will benefit from the sharing of knowledge that will occur. It is my hope that sharing my story with youth living in Clinton will encourage some to study abroad while in college and/or Graduate School.
Looking forward, beyond my undergraduate career, I foresee becoming more of a global citizen by interacting with others beyond my countries borders. Traveling throughout Asia is a new goal that I hope to accomplish while in Graduate School. Studying abroad gives students exposure to countries and cultures that they may not otherwise experience. Furthermore, one’s view of the world is forever changed and studying abroad evolves one’s entire thought process.