Lucas Eggerichs is an Ambassador who studied abroad in China
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Before coming to CSBSJU, I really didn't have any knowledge of how involved the school was in international education, nor did I ever see myself studying abroad. Slowly but surely, as I began to settle into my home at SJU, I started to hear more and more about study abroad and just how many students actually took part in it. After visiting the study abroad fair my freshman year, I realized how easy and affordable studying abroad could actually be. I then had to decide where I wanted to go. My thinking behind this was: I wanted to go someplace that was completely different from America and westernized culture, I wanted to go someplace I would never visit in my lifetime, and I didn't want my trip to burn a hole in my wallet. After weighing out all the possible options, I knew that China was the perfect place for me. I had also taken a year of Chinese classes my sophomore year, so China offered me a great opportunity to further expand on my knowledge of the language, and to help me obtain a Chinese minor.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Those first ten days in which we traveled around Beijing and Xi'an will always leave a lasting impression with me. I didn't really know any of my group before going to China. After the first few days, I already felt like I had known them for years. We all got to do and see so many new things together, that it instantaneously bonded us all. We got to climb the Great Wall, roam the '08 Olympic Village, visit the Terra Cotta Warriors, tour China's Forbidden City, see Tiananmen Square, shop at the Silk Market, take part in a traditional tea ceremony, try bizarre foods, etc. I got to see so many things that I had only ever seen in pictures. So many memories were created in those first couple weeks that will last with me forever.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Before going to China, we were told, "Don't try to change China, let China change you." Although difficult at some times, I tried to live by this motto during my experience. Now looking back, I can honestly say China has changed me.
While in China, I pretty much saw something new, or something that shocked me, everyday. China forces you to face many new and unfamiliar experiences, many of which may bring you way out of your comfort zone. However, it's these experiences that I am extremely grateful for. They allowed me to find out who I was and what I was capable of. For example, getting lost in Jiuzhaigou helped me learn how to problem-solve and I saw just how independent I could be. Speaking with friends and ordering from restaurants showed me that I am more than capable of someday becoming fluent in Mandarin.
Overall, It's hard for me to put into words just how amazing China was. It was a life-changing journey and probably the best decision I have made in my life.
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?
Personally- As a result of studying abroad in China, I have become more mature, independent, confident, patient, adventurous, and understanding of other people's cultures. Like I said earlier, I was put in so many situations that helped me grow as a person. I'm so grateful for my abroad experience and what it has given me.
Academically- My Chinese language skills have greatly improved and I am now pursuing a Chinese minor. I also know that my abroad experience will look great on my resume when applying to graduate schools. Professionally- I love China, and after having lived there for four months, I already want to go back. My abroad experience has made me realize that I want to get a job in the future that either allows me to travel for work, or one that allows me to be able to financially support my new found love for traveling.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?Go for it! I think some people don't realize how lucky we are to have these programs offered to us. Sure you can visit all of these places when you get older, but when are you going to get the chance to live in another country for four months? Also, while abroad, I think the most important thing to do is to keep an open mind. You are going to be faced with many new opportunities and experiences and you should try to capitalize on all of them. Make personal connections with the Chinese students; try eating duck brain; travel independently; go bungy jumping! Fully dive into your experience and I promise you will get so much more out of it.
Do you have questions about Study Abroad in China or want to have an access to my blog? Email Lucas at firstname.lastname@example.org