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Nanjing University Program
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McKenna Kimmel

Major: Finance and Mandarin Chinese
Minor: International Business
Hometown: Lancaster, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I heard about this experience from my professor in CHNS426 who was also the professor leading the trip. I had also heard about it last semester when I participated in the Nanjing University Program and mentored a Nanjing student at Penn State.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I really loved this program and had a truly great time. I had never been outside of the United States before, so I was not exactly sure what to expect. I originally thought that China would be filled with lots of traditional architecture and customs, but was surprised to see how clean, modern, and innovative it is. I have been studying Chinese language and culture for several years now and it was still eye-opening to go there and experience the culture first hand. We stayed at a hotel near the Nanjing campus and it was also conveniently located near a metro stop, so we were able to do a lot of traveling in our free time. Throughout the trip I went to the Confucian Temple in Nanjing, the Nanjing Museum, Zhengzhong, Suzhou, and Shanghai. I loved this experience so much that I hope to go back and study abroad in Shanghai during my junior year.

How did this experience impact you academically?

I had an absolutely amazing time and learned a lot. The program featured an embedded course which included daily classes in the mornings and also field trips and other cultural experiences throughout the two weeks. For the classes we had to read passages from various novels about Chinese culture and it tied in very nicely with the rest of the trip. We also were each paired with two Nanjing student partners and they were beyond helpful and kind. It was very interesting to talk to these students and see how life both academically and personally differed between China and the United States. I am planning on majoring in Mandarin Chinese as well as Finance and I was able to learn things regarding both topics. While being in China, I had plenty of opportunity to practice my Chinese. We also attended a lecture on Chinese economy and globalization which I found to be very fascinating. All in all, I was able to learn an enormous amount during this trip, both regarding culture and also knowledge directly related to my major.

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

I am majoring in Finance and Mandarin Chinese with a minor in International Business. I am not entirely sure what particular aspect of business I would like to pursue yet, but I do know that I would like to deal with international relations and become fluent in Mandarin Chinese in order to do so. This trip was very helpful because it helped me to practice Chinese and even learn a bit more. This trip definitely showed me that I still have a lot left to learn, but it also showed me that I am on the right path and am able to get by with the amount of Chinese that I currently know.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would definitely recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students because it was such an eye-opening and amazing experience for me. I think that the two week time-frame was a good amount of time to get a glimpse of the culture and language and figure out if you would like to explore it further. This experience would be good for all students regardless if they are majoring in Chinese or not because it gives exposure to another culture.

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