Danielle Thai is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A resource economics major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she is studying abroad in Shanghai this semester.
In this week's post, Danielle shares her experience taking classes and interning abroad in Shanghai so far this semester.
This may not be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about studying abroad. It may even slip many peoples minds, especially those who only see the pictures posted all over social media. In a way, it is hidden and overlooked but yes – I do take classes here!
All the noise and adventures students take on when they are in a foreign region often masks the thought of classes. During the past few years, studying abroad has become associated with a semester of just traveling around with friends, eating good food, and trying new things.
Photo: Mao Statue in the front of an academic building.
Classes in Shanghai
Photo: The river running through campus.
Being abroad, the course load is not as heavy. Instead of having classes two to three time a week, classes meet once a week for two and a half to three hours. To be honest, it is a struggle to get back into the swing of being in school after having a break for two months. Having to get up early, go to class, and take notes are not easy tasks; I went back to my dorm between classes and took a power nap to get me through the day. Not only do I have classes in Shanghai, but the classes are much longer than I am used to.
The classes are comprised of students from all over the world, so it is incredible to meet new people and compare lives and stories. You are probably wondering what language our classes are taught in and the answer is English. It is remarkable how many of the foreign students know more than two languages. It goes to show how well versed and worldly they are compared to myself. A majority of Americans do not start traveling abroad until college, so for many of us it is our first time being in a whole new environment. People from other countries travel around ever since they are children, so they are more accustomed with traveling in general and traveling alone too. This is my first time in an international setting and it is definitely a learning curve.
An internship in Shanghai
One of the main reasons why I chose to study abroad through CAPA was to have the opportunity to complete an internship. Before coming to Shanghai, I did not know what field I wanted to pursue. This past week, I had an interview with a company called Vandergeeten. A couple of days prior to the interview, I began updating my resume and doing research on the company to prepare. There was not much information about the company online. Through talking to my friends in the program and program director, I learned that the Chinese do not regularly update their websites or the company’s websites are not in English. A couple of hours before my interview, I had lunch with Colin, the CAPA Shanghai program director; we talked more about the company so I got a better understanding of who they are and what they do as a whole. We also discussed my previous experience and the answers I would give if they were to ask a certain question. Being able to talk to Colin beforehand helped ease my nerves and prepare me for the interview.
Once I learned more about the expectations and tasks involved with the internship, I began seeing myself growing professionally and personally through the experience. I think working in sales and marketing is the perfect match for me. I enjoy working and getting to know other people though means other than in confined settings. I like how I get to be involved in projects and that they encourage my participation; it is not like other “intern” jobs where I would do insignificant tasks. Along with classes and an internship, I will learn how to balance school, work, and travel.
On another topic, I will admit that being in a new country has caused me to do more exploring than if I were back in the United States. Being in a new environment has sparked my need for adventure. Back home, I always talk about traveling around the world but it was never put into action until I planned to study abroad. Now that I am here, instead of just talking about going somewhere, I actually start by booking my flights!
Until next time,
Danielle's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned!