Sophi Gorman is an Ambassador who studied abroad in China
Minor: Political Science
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I wanted to go somewhere that I wouldn't be able to go later in life, somewhere that was very different from the United States. Additionally, I wanted to be challenged in a cultural sense. It was important for me to choose a place that was affordable, ideally somewhere with a lower cost of living. I have always thought China was a very interesting country, especially as their power and influence continue to grow. China made the most sense for me and I am glad I chose the program.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
While in China, I was able to go volunteer at an elementary school. We spent two days at the school teaching English to Chinese students. I was paired with a class of 47 first graders. The school's conditions were very different than ours. A lot of the children came from low-income families. Despite their home and school conditions, the kids were incredibly happy. It was a crazy couple of days, but I will never forget the experience and the enthusiasm the children had. They were so excited to have an American teacher and to learn English. The Chinese people, in general, were very eager to learn about other people, other languages, and other cultures. I think having this type of global curiosity is very valuable, and makes me want to learn more about other countries.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I had an amazing semester abroad. While I was hesitant to go somewhere as different as China, I'm really glad I decided to challenge myself. I was able to see 9 different cities in China, all of which have their own unique and memorable characteristics. I liked being able to learn a little bit of Chinese language. I loved learning all about China's political system, economy, and current events. I was able to meet people from all over the world by living in the international dorms, while also getting to know a lot of locals. It was a crazy semester, but definitely the most exciting time of my life thus far.
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
There are so many benefits to studying abroad. Academically, I was able to take a lot of classes outside of my major, which has truly enhanced my liberal arts education. I enjoyed learning all different aspects of China, and how the country compares to the United States and the rest of the world.
Professionally, I will be able to talk about my experience in an interview for the rest of my life. Studying abroad shows an employer you are adaptable, open-minded, adventurous, and cultured. Also being able to volunteer abroad was a great learning experience.
I think I benefitted the most in a personal sense. Living abroad forces you to become a lot more independent. I'm much more comfortable with international travel, as well with living on my own. Studying abroad in China also made me become much more adaptable- things rarely went as planned in China. Being in a place so different from home also made me more culturally aware and sensitive. Seeing living conditions in some areas opened my eyes. Consequently, I am now a lot more appreciative of my life in the United States.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Being able to spend a semester abroad is a once in a lifetime chance. This is the perfect opportunity to live somewhere outside of the United States without any worries. Choose to go, and choose to go on a trip that is best for you. In my opinion, the more outside of your comfort zone, the more rewarding the experience will be.