Go to SU Beijing, in Four Easy Steps

Beijing2Step 1: Watch this video from current (Fall 2014) student Samantha about their pre-semester traveling seminar.

Step 2: Read this letter from SU Beijing alum Molly, who loved China so much she returned after she graduated from college:

Dear Prospective Syracuse Abroad Students,

Two years ago, I stepped off a plane in Beijing, China with a big smile. I was on a great adventure in an increasingly influential and interesting country with the support of Syracuse University and a diverse handful of motivated students. Even as I passed through immigration, I couldn’t help but beam in excitement. I was thrilled.

Roughly two years later, and I find myself once again in this exciting and rapidly changing country. This time, I’m 1300 miles away from the SU Abroad center in the northeast gate of Tsinghua University – one of the nation’s most prestigious universities. I teach oral English to 413 students at a middle school in rural Baoshan, Yunnan Province. Although I never imagined myself as a teacher, I knew I wanted to come back to China to further explore and understand this growing hegemonic power. I wanted to immerse myself once again in the language and the culture, have personal relationships with Chinese citizens, and witness the country’s development first-hand. I would never have had the skills or confidence to take on this challenge – or any similar experience across the globe – without my semester abroad in Beijing in the fall of 2012.

DSC05672My semester in Beijing forced me outside of my comfort zone – a welcome change. In terms of language and culture, I was undoubtedly a foreigner, traversing the unknown with the help of Caroline and Jane (the two marvelously supportive SU Abroad Beijing Center employees) and a dozen excited peers. Sometimes you won’t know what you’re eating, and other times you’ll have no idea what the taxi driver is saying, but that’s a part of the fun, and there’s always help nearby. Intensive Chinese classes with students from all around the world will quickly develop your language skills, helping you get around the country and find the best food. In my class, I became close friends with a 22-year-old from Finland and a 30-year-old from Malaysia. The three of us took girls’ shopping trips with plenty of bubble tea breaks. Unlike a semester in London, Strasbourg, or even Hong Kong, you are surrounded by the unfamiliar in an increasingly important country with an increasingly important language. You will meet new people coming from Syracuse, and others coming from France or Ethiopia or the Philippines. Each day brings a new lesson (or multiple lessons). Beijing is a challenge. And if this townie could do it, I have no doubt that you prospective travelers can as well. But never fear! The local Bridge Café, the Paradiso campus coffee shop, and your private dorm room (western bathroom included!) can be your safe haven when you need a day off.

At Tsinghua University, you’ll study China’s history, economics, ethnic minorities, environment, politics, media, law, and development. This study abroad experience is for any students interested in politics, international relations, human rights, environmental protection, government censorship, business, economics – you name it. Beijing is a good choice. Why? Because China is the future. A July 2014 Pew Research Global Attitudes survey of 44 countries found that a median of 49% of respondents believe China will replace (or already has replaced) the United States as the leading global power.[1]

Regardless of what side of the debate you fall on, take a chance on China. Rub some elbows with the country’s future leaders at Tsinghua University, walk Tiananmen Square and consider its history, learn how to say “dumplings, please!” in a perfect Beijing accent (they’re always delicious), and race your friends up the steps of the Great Wall. It will be worth it. Trust me.

And maybe, just maybe, some of you will fall in love with the country like I have.

[1] http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/07/14/chapter-3-balance-of-power-u-s-vs-china/

Step 3: Attend a info session with recent SU alums on Friday, September 26 from 12:30 -1:30 in Schine Room 231 – pizza will of course be provided!

Step 4: Apply. Go. Do it now!

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