Well, this last week has been ridiculously busy. I realize that I talked of being really busy in Xi’an as well, but this was a much different form of busy, which was, unfortunately, not a type of busy conducive to writing a blog. So I apologize for my silence during until this point. I am actually currently flying over the Pacific Ocean as I write this, scribbling in the near dark on a notebook (Hainan Airlines doesn’t allow the use of phones or computers at any time of the flight, a frustrating restriction on a ten hour journey). Anyway, I suppose my study abroad experience has come to an end, and as usual in these circumstances, it does feel as if it went by quickly, however I am satisfied at what I was able to accomplish in such a time. Therefore I would like to summarize my experience and how it has changed my current and future outlooks.
To begin, I believe I have attained a new appreciation for travel that I did not have before. Prior to this study abroad trip, the longest I had stayed in a foreign country was about two and a half weeks, and every travel experience has been as a tourist. Being a student made a world of difference. I was not only able to better immerse myself in the culture and language, but also seize the opportunity to live the life of a foreign student. I decided early on that the experience of studying abroad is not at all comparable to travelling for leisure, and is a far more rewarding experience. I cannot say that I now have a different appreciation of Greeley and UNC, however I am grateful for this opportunity the university has granted me. Studying at Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an was not better or worse than UNC, but has nonetheless greatly broadened my perception of world education.
As for globalization, and business in China, my views have changed quite a bit. Despite rigorous amounts of governmental infrastructural control, business still flourishes, albeit in a different manner, based upon what I saw on my trip. First of all, unlike the US, it is ridiculously easy to start a business in China (to an extent, of course), due to lax protocol, and common ignorance of existing protocol. This leads to heavy competition everywhere between small businesses, and an excellent buying experience as a consumer (heavy bargaining is still very widespread in China). Interestingly enough, the only big businesses I could pick out were primarily government owned/influenced or foreign businesses (read: mostly American), with a few exceptions. I thought this odd since coming from the States, where business seems predominately chains and large companies. Unfortunately, operating any business in China is incredibly risky, so it was not uncommon to see a shop somewhere one day, gone the next, and something new constructed within the next week. Madness, to my American eyes. Anyway, I do not feel entirely against globalization, and from the local students I spoke to at SNU, they were in fact proud that China manufactures most of the world’s goods, however they were all quite adamant that the phrase “Made in China” be transformed into “Created in China.” They believed that this change would alter the connotation of Chinese manufacturing, by promoting the idea of China as a product’s point of origin, instead of in the lower-middle of the industrial chain. This notion is very interesting, and it was a delight to be able to discuss it with local students in Xi’an.
This trip has also given me a new outlook on the future. I definitely want to return to China, preferably soon, as I greatly enjoyed learning the culture and improving my Chinese language skills. I believe the next time, however, I would like to return for work, or an internship. I was able to spend the majority of my trip as a student, and some of it as a tourist as well (an experience I did not particularly enjoy, as being a tourist doesn't really resonate with me), and so I would now like the experience of working abroad as well. Ideally, I am planning to find an internship in Information Systems (my emphasis) in China next summer, so I may both have such an experience as well as fulfill the MCB professional experience requirement. As for further into the future, this study abroad experience has more created questions than provided answers, and I am now looking into different possible future careers and career locations. So, it looks like I have much more pondering to do in the upcoming year. Nevertheless, I gained more excitement for the future, and am really looking forward to what it may hold.
Well, these are a few of my final thoughts on my study abroad experience in China. Overall, this experience was revolutionary, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Therefore, I cannot help but mightily encourage any student to pounce on any study abroad opportunity that comes their way, as I guarantee it will be incredibly rewarding! Whew, well it’s hard to believe the trip’s over, and even more difficult to believe that I have another class starting in two days! This study abroad trip was an absolutely phenomenal experience, and I have learned so much, and widened my view of the world!