Study Abroad: IES Beijing
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Seth Godfrey

Hometown: Stewartstown, PA
Major: Chinese

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I found out about the IES Beijing program through the Education Abroad section of the Penn State website. I found it to be an invaluable resource for finding, comparing, and applying to study abroad programs.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

This was a language intensive program which means that every week we spent five hours a day in classes taught entirely in Chinese. In addition to this we were required to take two area studies courses taught in English. Outside of class we were subject to a 24/7 language pledge which required that we only spoke Chinese while on school grounds. We lived with Chinese roommates selected from the business school of the Beijing Foreign Studies University, which acted as our campus. Everything about this program was designed to promote students' immersion into the language and culture of Beijing.

"My time in Beijing has given me the language skills, cultural understanding, and self confidence necessary to return to China."

How did this experience impact you academically?

My time spent in this program has easily been the most strenuous of my academic career, while at the same time, the most fruitful. I spent many hours a day in the classroom, and even more were spent studying and preparing for daily quizzes designed to monitor students' progress. The IES staff are some of the most intelligent, helpful, and friendly educators I have ever studied under and I owe most of my extensive progress to their dedication and expertise. Even after class was finished, I found myself immersed in the language. Watching TV, ordering food, socializing, everything I did in my free time furthered my education more so than my work in the classroom as I learnt to focus my academic knowledge into real life communication skills. When I came to China, I had no idea of the amazing progress that this fantastic program would lead to.

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

My goal following graduation is to return to Beijing and continue my study of Mandarin Chinese while doing work in translation. The two major impacts my experience in China has made on these goals are as follows. First, my time in Beijing has given me the language skills, cultural understanding, and self confidence necessary to return to China at my leisure. What was once a strange and confusing place has now become like a second home to me. Secondly, during my time here I have had the pleasure of meeting many graduates of this program, and others like it, who have gone on to find careers using their Chinese knowledge.

Would you recommend this experience to other liberal arts students?

 

Yes.

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