Study Abroad and Global Education

Ina Herlihy

Ask me where I've been: China

Major(s) Economics
Hobbies photography, reading, spending time with friends and family
Hometown San Francisco, California
Program/Study Site IES: Beijing, Language Intensive
Ina Herlihy | China

Why study abroad?

I wanted to immerse myself in a completely new environment. Also, as a Chinese language student, the best way to learn Chinese is to live in China.

Why did you choose China?

I decided to begin learning Chinese my sophomore year because I am majoring in economics, and China is becoming a greater economic force in the world, with many U.S. companies having expansion plans there. I realized that I would maximize my learning and time if I studied abroad in China.

What courses did you enroll in while abroad?

I selected the Intensive Chinese Language Track, where I would learn the equivalent of two semesters of Chinese in one semester. My Chinese course counted as two courses, and I also took a Chinese literature in English translation, and an internship seminar. Every Wednesday I interned with the World Wildlife Fund as a Sustainable Finance Intern.

What was your living situation?

I lived with a host family in an apartment building, about a twenty-minute walk from campus. My host dad was a professor at Peking University, and I had the opportunity to attend his final class of the semester. Students even asked for his autograph and a photo with him! My host mom gave me breakfast and dinner, so I was guaranteed two safe meals! Then I had lunch with friends near campus.

What did you do for fun?

Every weekend I explored a new area of Beijing, and made new Chinese friends along the way. Many evenings I walked around the neighborhood with my host mom, and she shared stories about her life. Every Sunday I watched a Chinese TV show with my host parents, and it was a great way to bond while also improving my language skills. When I returned to America, this show helped me to connect with new Chinese friends living in America.

Highlights of the program:

My program went on a two-week trip to Inner Mongolia, the border of China and Russia, and the border of China and North Korea. It was interesting to learn more about how Chinese culture and food preferences differ in every region, and was fascinating to meet many Chinese who had never before seen foreigners.

The most challenging aspects of your experience:

At times the language barrier was challenging. My host mom could not speak English, so we sometimes had trouble communicating. In August our conversations were mainly comparing and contrasting food in China and America, but by the time I left in December we were discussing Chinese politics!  

Final comments or suggestions for future participants:

Study abroad outside your comfort zone!


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