Reflecting on a Great Two Weeks

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When I was first notified that I would be going to China for Plus3, I didn’t really know how to feel.  It was my third choice and I had put it on my list last minute somewhat randomly.  I thought that the language barrier would make it extremely difficult to get by, and I was quite nervous about being so far away.  However, as we got closer and closer to our date of departure, I accepted the fact that this truly was a once in a lifetime experience and that I was extremely fortunate to be chosen for this specific program.  It truly was eye-opening and I absolutely would recommend it for students that want to get somewhat of a trial run for studying abroad.

My two weeks abroad was easily one of the biggest highlights of my college career so far, and will be in my memories for the rest of my life.  Back in high school, I always thought that I wouldn’t be able to study abroad until my junior year, where it would be an entire semester, but Pitt provided the perfect opportunity to get my feet wet and have a brief international experience by the end of my freshman year.  With the help of Pitt Business and the International Programs office, I truly began to see why this two week program would be so worthwhile to my academic and personal goals.  My peers and I were able to talk with high-level executives of Chinese companies such as Xiaomi, Ocean East Logistics, and Delphi Technologies, asking questions regarding economic differences between the U.S. and China and how these companies stay profitable during periods of rapid development.  Being able to network with these individuals was incredible; it helped me understand key differences between the U.S. and China from political, economic, and cultural points of view.  I will be able to utilize this knowledge in my future business classes, and later down the road, my career.

In addition to company visits, the program really emphasized getting to know Chinese culture.  The university visits we had were very beneficial in understanding how the education system works, and we were able to talk with university students, gaining insight on what their lives are like in comparison to ours at Pitt.  Talking with these students gives you real exposure to typical Chinese culture in major cities, and it was amazing to be able to compare and contrast their lives to some of our lives.  For example, most Chinese students are very studious, and spend their time at the library even when they’re not studying.  On the other hand, I don’t go to the library to study and am content with studying quietly in my room.  Some of the students I spoke with thought that was absurd that I don’t need to use the library!  There were many other differences I experienced while I was abroad, such as how important family and respect is to many people, aggressive selling techniques in some stores, and how traffic in the cities seems to be somewhat lawless, with mopeds being ridden everywhere, even on sidewalks!

With one year under my belt in the College of Business Administration, I am already excited to come back to Pittsburgh to continue working towards a degree in Finance and/or Business Information Systems, with a potential certificate in Business Analytics.  I am also looking to become a little bit more involved with some of the clubs Pitt Business has to offer.  I am already a member of the Sports Business Association, and feel that I am very capable of devoting my time to another club.  After having this study abroad experience, I am looking towards the future where I will hopefully once again go abroad, but this time for an entire semester.  I look forward to becoming a well-rounded individual by becoming even more globally minded and culturally aware than I became as a result of this trip.  I would like to give a resounding thank you to Pitt Business, the International Programs Office, and the Thomas Angelo Honors Scholarship Fund for enabling me to have the best experience I possibly could have had at the end of my freshman year.

-Colin

 

 

 

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