Life Changing Experiences from Traveling to the Other Side of the World
Degree Option: Business Management
Year: Graduated December 2011
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to participate in the summer China program.
I am from a small town in Wyoming, and was enrolled in my second to last semester at MSU when I attended this program. I have since completed my undergraduate program at MSU, and now have a degree in business management. My interest for traveling to China began years ago. I have always been very excited to travel and experience new places, however, Asia had yet to make my checklist. As soon as I learned of this opportunity, I immediately applied for the program. I was accepted and began communicating with the trip leader, Dr. Fengru Li of the University of Montana. She is an amazing woman, and helped guide me through the necessary steps of the trip.
2. Could you please tell me more about this program, its structure and your counterparts?
The program was based around U.S.-Chinese business negotiations. Essentially we worked with our counterparts in a classroom setting revolving around mock negotiations. It was very interesting to see how the different groups interacted throughout the negotiations. I feel the U.S. students had the upper hand because we were required to negotiate in English, but many of our counterparts were very persistent and extremely knowledgeable during negotiations. Aside from the classroom, we spent much of our time exploring the cities with our counterparts. The Beijing counterparts spent the most time with us, and we all became quite close during the two weeks of study there. The other educational focus was tours of U.S. based companies within China. This was a great experience to explore these businesses, and gain a greater understanding of international business.
3. What were some of the activities that you engaged in while in China? Where did you visit?
When we were not engaged in classroom activities, we toured many cultural sites in and around the cities where we stayed. These sites included: The Summer Palace (Beijing), The Great Wall (Beijing), The Forbidden City (Beijing), The Miao Village (Guizhou), Panda Research Center (Chengdu), and many other interesting areas throughout the trip. During our stay in Guizhou, we were fortunate enough to play a game of basketball with the college team. It was an amazing experience to say the least. There were several hundred students who turned out for the game, and they were kind enough to cheer for both teams. We were defeated by several points, but a life altering experience nonetheless.
4. What were some memorable parts of the trip?
The basketball game I mentioned was one of the most memorable parts of the trip. Other memorable parts included staying in the ancient Miao Village located in the mountains outside of Guizhou. Airport security in general throughout the country was quite memorable. Arriving in Shanghai and finding Italian food, and mostly the great friends I made during the trip, both counterparts and UM students. You really get to know people when you spend a month with them, especially when you are travelling in a foreign country. One particular counterpart that really made our stay in Beijing that much more enjoyable was named Super Li, and he became a good friend during our two-week stay in the city.
5. What were the most interesting things you learned while on the trip?
Aside from the negotiations, the most interesting thing I learned and experienced was people’s reactions in certain settings. It was fascinating to watch my peers react differently to certain negative experiences we encountered on our journey. I also learned a very small amount of Chinese, which I plan to expand upon in the very near future. Learning about the Chinese culture was absolutely amazing. Completely immersing yourself in such a foreign setting takes your breath away. I hope to return to China soon, and potentially live there for several years.
6. Was this international program a positive experience for you?
Very much so! This is an experience I will never forget. I was fortunate enough to be accompanied by some of the greatest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Especially Dr. Li and Suhan Chen. These two women organized the trip, and made the trip what it was. I gained new knowledge, and was able to experience the “real” China.
7. Has this experience impacted your future goals?
It has made me think twice about what I actually want to do when I grow up. I definitely plan to return to China, and may potentially pursue a career in international business with a focus on China. So, yes this trip did in fact impact my future goals significantly. I feel it was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life, and would encourage anyone, student or not, to travel to China and experience their culture.
8. Any advice for future participants of the program?
The best advice I can give to any individual considering the program is to expect anything and have an open mind. The culture of China is so dramatically different than anything I had previously experienced, and going into the trip with an open mind greatly benefited my overall experience. Another tip, if possible, study the language and try to have a grasp of basic phrases. This is one area in which I wish I had spent more time. Overall, have fun with it and don’t pass on any opportunity to see more of the country while you are there. You only live once, so experience as much as you possibly can, while you can!