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Study Abroad in China

By Julia Stamper, Honors Council Publication Committee

At the beginning of the summer, the inaugural class of the Haslam Scholars Program travelled to China for a unique study abroad experience.  The group travelled with Dr. Yang Zhong and HSP Faculty Fellow Dr. David Golden.  The scholars and faculty left soon after the spring semester ended in May and spent two weeks in Beijing, two days in Xi’an, and five days in Shanghai.

The purpose of this study abroad trip was to help the Haslam Scholars learn about real-world applications to the classes they have completed.  These students took special seminars together every semester for their first two years at the university, ranging in topics from classical philosophy to globalization. This trip was the culmination of those studies and was an opportunity for the students to see for themselves how a nation has interpreted and applied those topics.

Caitlin Conley says, “Tsinghua University was our home away from home in China. This is where we learned about the history, culture, energy, government, calligraphy, and customs of the Chinese people. We ate our first local meal, tasted our first hot wine, spent our first yuan, and used our first squatty potties at this university. The campus was beautiful and their students and staff were incredibly gracious. We could not have felt more welcome.”

While in Shanghai, the students had a chance to visit the Shanghai World Expo, a fair featuring over 200 pavilions from countries and organizations around the world.  This experience left a definite impression on the students, including  Mark Walker, who enjoyed “being able to experience the cultures of virtually every country in the world in one single place.”  The students were also able to learn about the differences between being a student in the United States and a student in China. They were impressed by how much more work is required of university students in China!

Overall, the students found their trip both exciting and educational.  This once-in-a-lifetime trip will serve as a good experience for their future studies and eventual careers, and has given them the opportunity to learn about and engage in a culture entirely unlike their own.