Barbara H. Padnos International Center
130 Lake Ontario Hall
Q: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your study abroad experience?
A: Wanting to go back. Anywhere, and everywhere. I found myself day dreaming about going away and getting away. I loved the feeling of being uncomfortable and the relationships that I formed while being abroad.
Q: Why did you choose this destination?
A: Actually I chose this destination almost from pure random. The only factor in determining this destination was purely objective based; China is our biggest business ally, as well as our biggest competitor. I wanted to experience the culture that is challenging us.
Q: What are some things that surprised you about the campus, the classes, the culture, customs or traditions?
A: I was surprised how much larger Americans are compared to the Chinese, in terms of stature. Once classes start it was extremely evident how much taller I was than the average Chinese person. My knees hit the bottom of the desks, my legs didn't fit the chairs properly and other things. It really took you out of your ethnocentric view point and kerplopped you another country.
Q: What are some things you would like students to know about studying abroad in this destination or the program provider you studied with?
A: Be ready to be uncomfortable and that's ok. I really enjoyed not being sure about where I was and what I was eating, it really helps you form yourself as individual. I went over there very unsure about where I was going, I was unsure about the people, about the language (which i knew none of) and getting around. And I loved it. It really tested me as a person and I look at things differently now because of it.
Q: What advice would you offer?
A: Take the plunge. I didn't know the language, traditions, customs, even what food was ok to eat and what wasn't. I didn't know the money exchange, the number system, any of the alphabet, I was almost blind to where I was going. Although I don't recommend doing that, I do recumbent taking your insecurities and going with them. They are there for a reason, but you shouldn't bend to their will. It will hinder your life, and if I had done that, I would have spent my summer on a normal college campus, in the same town that I had been in for the past 5 years.
Q: What was your academic goal while studying abroad?
A: I was going to take classes that applied to my graduation requirements, that being said once I got over there, my goals changed. I was there for the experience, not for the classes. Now, I didn't fail and I did my work, but I didn't let my classes dictate my experience. Be there, be in the moment, look around, get curious and forget the things you were worried about. You will connect with the space and the people on a human level more so than anywhere else you go in life.
A: Adventure. Buying food, walking to class, little activities became an adventure.
A: I chose China because of its extensive history. I chose Shanghai specifically because it was the host city for the 2010 World Expo.
A: The lack of personal space between friends and strangers. Females linked arms or held hands while walking. Males were not as blatant but had their own form of PDA. The subway or buses were packed during rush hours and during one of my bus rides, I basically sat in a strangers lap for a few blocks. I made friends with local female students; with no hesitation, they would link arms or hold your hand while you walked somewhere.
A: 1. Do not be afraid of the street food.
2. Walk instead of taking taxis around the city.
3. Body language is pretty universal.
A: Study and do your homework, but explore as much as possible. Read in a park or sit at a restaurant and write your paper. Also try to keep a journal during your trip.
A: I wanted to learn as much of the language as possible.
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