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Taking a Chance on China
Kabao Vue didn't know a word of Mandarin and chose to study abroad in China on a whim. Now she says it was the best decision of her life.
Kabao Vue, a sophomore studying Finance at UMD had an extraordinary experience, the opportunity to study abroad in China. Vue had no Chinese language experience before the trip but was intrigued by the cultural aspect of the program. She is an Asian American and has grown up influenced by East Asian culture from Chinese movies and music.
In the summer of 2017, she was able to “dive deeper into a culture other than my own.” Vue saw this as a big risk since she couldn’t even speak a word of Chinese. “Being surrounded by the language and culture made learning the language easier,” explains Vue.
Vue traveled to Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Qingdao. “It became a survival skill to be able to ask for directions or buy items. I quickly picked up basic phrases to help navigate around the city. It was my first time being a foreigner because I’ve never been outside America.” Vue says this experience made her more independent as an adult and more confident about getting lost in new cities.
Her favorite part of her trip was visiting the Great Wall. She describes her memories as “highly vivid detailed memories engraved in my head.” She says she doesn’t need pictures to remind her of the beauty because she can still clearly remember every aspect of the wall. “My favorite part was the scenery, and I will forever remember standing on a historical site.”
Vue believes visiting China truly changed her. “The trip has expanded my worldview by accepting all the differences there are in our world. I have encountered the many differences between China and America, and it has made me more knowledgeable. I’m now able to better accept traditions, besides my own, which made me grow as a person.”
Coming back to academics, her experience has made her much better at working in teams to solve problems. “There was a language barrier but it was a dynamic group that taught me how to compromise and be a leader. These are important skills since I’m in the business field, which requires a lot of teamwork.”
Vue would absolutely recommend the Study Abroad Program to other students. She picked this on a whim, and it turned out to be the most interesting experience, “the risk I stumbled upon has been the greatest blessing. The trip was more than life changing, it has made me grow as an adult. As a young traveler who has been to the other side of the world, I’m proud my stories can help influence other students to take the risk and travel.”