As a senior in high school, I had already decided that I wanted to study Chinese in college, but I was unsure of where to go. Moving far away from home was not an obstacle, but staying close would have been nice. After scouring university catalogs and probing the minds of many guidance counselors, I finally came across the Chinese Language Flagship Program at Ole Miss. After meeting with several professors in the program, I decided that the UM Flagship Program offered a nice balance between cost and quality, all while requiring students to study abroad in China. After completing two years in the program and meeting Chinese students from other, larger universities, I've found that the UM Flagship has really put me head and shoulders above my peers.
I've spent three summers in Qingdao, two of which were through the Flagship Program. Additionally, I will be studying at Fudan University in Shanghai during the upcoming academic year. The most memorable experiences in China were during my homestay visits with Chinese families. Although I ate a lot of strange things and met every member of their extended families, I enjoyed every minute of it.
It's been hard but never impossible. There have been times where I've felt overwhelmed or that I was losing interest in Chinese. The professors in our department are so approachable and willing to work with you that I've always been able to get myself back on track. I also think the Chinese classes have been the most effective classes I've ever taken.
I'm thinking of taking a year off, either to teach English or to sail around the world. After that, I'm thinking of working for the government, maybe as a diplomat.