The Past, Present, and Future: Why I am Studying Abroad in Shanghai

Feb 9, 2019 10:15:00 AM / by Imani Wilson

The day she has been waiting for is finally here! In her first post, Imani shares her excitement and anticipation about heading to Shanghai for a semester abroad. This experience has been years in the making! From transforming into a Chinese culture aficionado and learning Mandarin for the past four years, Imani reveals why she can't wait to immerse herself in this global city and her academics abroad. 

I always knew that I was going to go to China. I just didn’t think it would happen like this. I never thought that I would ever study abroad. I find that when people think of travel, they think of vacation or traveling for work. We all know that studying abroad is a possibility, but college students might not be able to because of timing and/or money. Miraculously, Hood College and CAPA made studying abroad more affordable and I decided to take a chance because chances like these are hard to come across for most students. If they weren’t, everyone would do it.

Hood College signFunding from Hood College helped greatly.

It was in middle school when I first got into Korean Pop music (K-pop). I know what you’re thinking. It’s Korean, not Chinese. I know. It was the Chinese members in the pop groups that caught my eye. Many K-pop groups have idols of different nationalities so that they can be marketed in different parts of the world. They transformed me into a Chinese culture enthusiast. Although I don’t like history, I learned about different dynasties of China to understand the background between the different type of ethnic groups in China—Han, Zhuang, Hui, Manchu, and many more. I fell in love with the difficulty of the language and the similarities and differences between their culture and mine. By the way, if you like challenges, you should learn Chinese, or, honestly, any language. From then on I decided to learn about China and I knew that one day I would go.

Chinese AppSelf-teaching app to learn Mandarin.

I love different cultures and languages. I love it so much that I want to travel to every country in the world. When I heard Jessica Nabongo’s story, I was even more inspired to travel the world. She’s going to be the first African-American woman to travel to every single country known. I started with Costa Rica because my school was offering a trip there at the time. I’m choosing China now because I’ve spent four years learning Mandarin, I have two pen pals from there, and lastly China is the most interesting country to me, as of right now. In its architecture, economy, history, politics, and people, China is very different yet similar to the culture in the United States.

Imani with a tree in Costa RicaThis is me hugging a very old tree on a nature hike in Costa Rica.

In traditional Chinese architecture, I love the use of open yet enclosed spaces like courtyards and sky wells. I also think it’s interesting to see the hierarchy of China’s history within the traditional architecture. It makes me wonder why the position of the buildings depend on the status of the person living there. Anyway, I’m excited to learn Mandarin, and about Chinese civilization, issues in Chinese society, and Chinese urbanization. These topics are what my classes are based upon.

Flying over Lincoln, NebraskaI'm flying all over the world.

To think that all of what I learned from teachers and my pen pals are finally going to good use. Do you know that feeling of realization that you’re in a completely different country? It might take a while, but suddenly it hits you. You’re immersed in a different culture and that new country is now your new school. I haven’t felt that feeling yet; but, I’ll let you know when it happens.

Gifts from FriendsThese are the gifts my friends and mentor got me that will hopefully help me through homesickness.

Thanks, Imani!

Imani Wilson


Imani Wilson is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2019, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Mathematics major at Hood College, she is studying abroad in Shanghai this semester.

Imani's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Shanghai Program

Topics: Shanghai, China, Why Study Abroad