“In so many ways, this study abroad experience has changed me for the better.”

Hello! My name is Emily and I’m currently a junior majoring in Environmental Studies and Economics. This summer, I participated in the Chinese Business Language and Culture Program at Fudan University.

When I was looking at where to study abroad, I always knew that language would be a huge consideration. I loved learning languages and I didn’t want to go to another English-speaking country, because I really wanted to experience a different culture and work on developing my skills in another language.

I was deciding between going to Spain or China because I’ve only ever studied Spanish and Chinese. I ultimately decided on going to China, because as a Chinese-American that has never been there, I felt that it was important to visit the country that my parents grew up in. I had only taken 1 year of Chinese in my life here at Binghamton, and I knew that the best way to practice and improve my language skills was to immerse myself in Chinese culture and daily life. Through research, I came across a Binghamton program at Fudan University; it was perfect because it was in the summer and could fit into in my tight schedule. A bonus was that it in was in Shanghai, the city where my father grew up in.

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In so many ways, this study abroad experience has changed me for the better. It has provided with me with countless new experiences, new perspectives, and a chance to meet people from all over the world. I was able to visit all these amazing sights- the Bund, Yuyuan Gardens, the Temple of Heaven, and the Great Wall. I tried delicious, cheap, but a little sketchy street food. I took classes and became friends with students from Norway, England, Japan, Hungary, etc., all with the common goal of learning Chinese, but all with such different lifestyles back home.

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This experience has also encouraged me to take pride in my identity as a Chinese- American and truly work towards mastering the Chinese language. For a long time, I resisted the idea of learning Chinese because of embarrassment and fear of seeming “less American.” However, after meeting people from around the world in China, I realized how important and beautiful of a language Chinese is and I gained a greater appreciation of Chinese culture. I had only wished I used my parents more as a resource in the past. However, now I am more motivated than ever to continue to learn and practice Chinese. I can only hope it is not too late for me to become fluent in this language.

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I had a wonderful experience in China and I am so glad I was able to study abroad. Without a doubt, I would recommend study abroad to everyone. Through this experience, I became more independent, adventurous, and more comfortable with using a foreign language. I definitely want to visit China again and I’m actually thinking about studying abroad again!

Emily Lee, a Environmental Studies and Economics major, studied abroad on the China: Chinese Business Language & Culture at Fudan University program during summer 2017.

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