Dakota – Core Curriculum Beijing Program, ACU Winter Break 2016
Studying abroad is an experience like none other. It allows you to enjoy a destination while expanding your mind, learning and making life long friends. Recently, I was given the opportunity to study in Beijing and to do exactly that.
Stepping on the plane and flying 12 hours north to China, it gives you a lot of time to think about the challenges ahead. Will I be too immersed in the excitement of the new country to worry about my studies? Will I get enough time to experience the culture with the study? My mind was ambushed with thoughts but as soon as I touched down in China and met my classmates I realized there was nothing to worry about.
The program was thoughtfully planned out to make sure we got to see everything China had to offer while not compromising our studies. We made overnight trips on sleeper trains to Xi’an and Shanghai where we were given ample time to explore. We had set days set for us to discover the wonders of the world – The Great Wall and the Forbidden City! It included lessons on the Chinese language, politics, marketing and religion – topics that I would have never thought I would
have the chance to be able to learn about.
We had the greatest support staff team from The Beijing Centre that catered to every need, whether it was advice on the best place to get Peking duck or a massage, or if we needed translations for lost items, they were there! The teachers were also amazing! Our unit was taught with great enthusiasm; it made the thought of having to go to a class while on a trip bearable (even though we were there to study!!)
The classes were interactive and small enough to get to know everyone but big enough that you could sit with different people from time to time. The classes allowed us to make friends and develop friendships with like-minded people that I know I’ll stay in contact with for years to come. Everyone was so supportive and there for the same reason you were, so you could always count on someone for a study session.
The free time we had allowed these bonds we made in the classroom to grow and involved some of the greatest moments. Getting lost and attempting to speak our limited knowledge of Chinese to get home, visiting Olympic parks, temples, eating god knows what because we couldn’t read the menu, shopping for ‘authentic’ yeezys/burberry (because tai gue le (too expensive)), tennis parties, group dinners (feasts set for a king), face masks, tandem bike rides and pocky!
Looking back now, I have no idea what I was worried about! I have the most amazing three weeks and studying aboard is one of the greatest decisions I’ve made not only in my degree but in my life. I’d like to thank ACU for the opportunity, the teachers for the knowledge, and most importantly everyone I traveled with that made this trip memorable. I know this is something I’ll remember for forever with lifelong friends to reminisce with. This has honestly been a ‘Beijing blessing’.