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Exchange Program: Nanjing University
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Logan Paiste

Major: CAMS; Jewish Studies; Chinese; Asian Studies
Minor: Sexuality and Gender Studies
Hometown: Allentown, Pennsylvania

How did you learn about this opportunity?

During the Fall 2016 semester, I learned about the exchange program with Nanjing University and Penn State through the Asian Studies listserv. Additionally, I had heard about the program through word of mouth by the professors of my Chinese courses.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

As someone who is studying Chinese and Asian Studies, I had not yet been to China. This experience really opened my eyes to Chinese university culture and allowed me to network with Chinese college students who are my age. I was able to visit several courses at the University which are taught in Chinese, and compare American and Chinese teaching styles and student expectations. In one of the courses, the professor asked me to speak in front of the class (in English) and answer questions about American culture. Many of the students had questions about academics at American universities, including the GRE and LSAT exams, while others wanted to know about American politics and controversial issues. There were a number of new expressions which I learned, as well as new greetings and farewell wishes, which are commonly used in the Jiangsu province of China. In spite of speaking a more formal version of Chinese, I was still understood by many of the Chinese university students.

How did this experience impact you academically?

As someone who had seen himself attending a Chinese University Masters degree program in the very near future, this program greatly humbled me. I realized that, while I am eligible to enroll in advanced Chinese courses at Penn State, such as CHNS 403W, 404, and 45X courses, my Chinese proficiency is not superior enough to start a Masters degree program at a Chinese university right away. I learned that I need additional academic preparation in order to pursue graduate school education. In the meantime, I realized that being in a Chinese university environment as a foreigner is very exciting. I feel inspired to schedule additional Chinese culture courses, such as CHNS 42X courses, while also practicing my colloquial Chinese vocabulary. Being at Nanjing University taught me that my Chinese should not just be limited to the Penn State classroom, but rather that I should take (safe) risks and practice my colloquial Chinese with my international Chinese-speaking friends at Penn State.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I have many career goals, and I see myself pursuing at least 5 careers in my lifetime. Relevant to the Nanjing University experience, one of my goals is to work for the United States government and assist with international relations. I could use my Chinese language skills to be an interpreter, or to be a diplomat, or even work at an embassy. Being at Nanjing University showed me that there is a need for native English-speaking people to foster American and Chinese relations, whether in a university context, a business context, or even a government context. Now, I feel better connected to China and have a deeper grasp in understanding the Chinese culture.

I feel better connected to China and have a deeper grasp in understanding the Chinese culture.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

Certainly! Although this experience does not require a Chinese language background, I would encourage applicants with Chinese background to apply. Especially if this will be your first time to China, the Nanjing University and Penn State exchange program is unique in that you are experiencing an international university setting while not formally being a Nanjing University student. The program is virtually stress-free, and there are reasonable amounts of readings and homework assignments; therefore, you can spend two weeks at Nanjing University and focus on experiencing the university culture first hand.

For more information on global experiences for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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