Learning from the Unexpected

Posted by

by Veronica Chua | Emory Chinese Studies Program, Summer 2015

Originally written on February 18, 2016

Studying abroad in China has not only enriched my undergraduate experience but also provided me with a lifetime of benefits. As a naturally adventurous individual, I possess a keen desire to travel, explore, and discover what the world has to offer. The 2015 Emory Chinese Studies Program provided me with the perfect opportunity to do so. In fact, studying abroad has been the single most memorable adventure in my life so far, fulfilling and even surpassing my wildest expectations. Within a span of two short months, I was able to adapt to an entirely new lifestyle, overcome challenges that come with a drastic change in environment, and become vividly aware of the lives of other people. Stepping outside of my comfort zone, I essentially immersed myself in a foreign country for the very first time, which ultimately has impacted my educational pursuits, launched my career, increased my cultural knowledge and appreciation, and fostered deep-rooted relationships.

After graduation, I plan to pursue a career that heavily relies on international business. To excel in this field, I must be well versed in the history, societal values, and traditions of other countries, especially areas in Asia where businesses are booming. The 2015 Emory Chinese Studies Program was specially designed so that participants learn as much as possible and gain a full picture of China rather than just study the language alone. For example, visiting sacred sites such as the Lingyin Temple, Great Wall, and Tiananmen Square exposed me to China’s unique history, spanning thousands of years. Apart from touring cultural sites, the program even provided us with the special opportunity to get hands-on and participate in traditional cultural activities like Taiji, calligraphy, steel carving, dumpling making, and tea drinking. In addition, living in both China’s southern and northern capital gave me a real taste of Chinese society and how it functions both socially and economically. Lastly, engaging in networking events with Emory alumni as well as local Chinese students allowed me to ask and get direct feedback about what it is like to grow up, get an education, and establish a career in China. Moreover, these networking events opened me up to a global social network of remarkable career opportunities and connections.

Last but certainly not least, studying abroad gave me the opportunity to personally grow as an individual. Living in a foreign country for the first time inevitably comes with unexpected situations that will likely evoke adversity, uncertainty, and frustration. And, I quickly realized that studying abroad is all about learning how to identify, assess, and resolve these unexpected situations. By facing different and diverse challenges, I now know how to better problem solve, be proactive, and recruit help if needed. In addition, dealing with these unexpected situations led me to form strong, close-knit relationships with remarkable professors and fellow program participants. Living and studying overseas fostered a powerful sense of camaraderie and teamwork within our group. As we traveled together, we depended, comforted, and supported one another through it all. In short, the 2015 Emory Chinese Studies Program is a treasure that I will forevermore cherish and be immensely proud to be a part of.