I cannot believe how much happened in the very short two weeks I was in China. It was all around an amazing experience, one that I would recommend to anyone who wants to study abroad.
I knew a few people going into the trip, but traveling together allowed me to become so much closer to people that I don’t think I really would have gotten to know otherwise. I think the fact that the Plus 3 program is for both Business and Engineering students really improves every aspect of it.
We truly saw a lot in two weeks, and from what I can tell we made the most of every second. I appreciated learning about and getting to experience China’s rich history, cultural sites, various businesses, and top schools. Since we were doing so much in each day, it took effort to appreciate each part of the day, but this was effort well spent.
The meals we ate together were especially important, not just because I enjoy eating. We were all trying new foods and experience different flavors for the first time together. I believe that food, more than anything else, has the potential to bring people together, and my experiences on this trip reaffirmed that belief. The “family-style” meals brought our class together as a family, and this played a huge role in making the trip as successful as it was.
Our guides from the Asia Institute, Liliana, Jane, and Yangyang, all went above and beyond to also give us a fantastic experience. It was great for us to have people who knew their way around the cities, and to also serve as translators when we were feeling lost. But more than that, I think by the end of it they were our good friends. Hopefully, when Liliana leads her tour group in Pittsburgh this August, we will be able to have some kind of small class reunion.
Finally, Gabi and Dr. Li were fantastic leaders. They were brave in the face of uncertainty and always willing and able to help us out when we needed it. Dr. Li in particular helped me experience a few restaurants with food I never would have known about.
I learned so much about the culture and history of China, but it was also interesting to learn more about modern China. China’s planned social programs/plans, how businesses are organized, their relations with the global market, and new directions for the future were all things I didn’t even think about before the trip. I also learned that the “trade war” is not nearly as much of an issue as the media makes it out to be here. It was also interesting to find out about how people there view the US.
All in all, Plus 3 China was a spectacular experience, and I feel that in a very short time I’ve gained a lot of insight into different cultures, and I hope to one day be able to visit again.