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The Importance of Studying Abroad

Studying abroad is an opportunity that I believe will help to strengthen and build a foundation for my future endeavors. I would like to become an international pop culture writer/editor and content creator. My Haitian heritage has influenced my interest in learning and reporting about countries and cultures abroad. It has helped me redefine social norms and beauty standards for myself by challenging me to appreciate a culture other than Western culture. I struggled accepting my cultural identity because of how much I was bullied in middle school, but spending my summers in Haiti helped me to truly appreciate my history and culture. Similar to this an abroad experience in China will teach me the importance of Chinese cultural heritage, along with it will create a concrete foundation for my creative writing skills and my cultural comprehension.

I chose to study at The Beijing Center in China in part because in my intercultural communication class, the instructor designed a service learning project where I worked with Jiabian, an exchange student from Beijing, China. We met met weekly for the entire semester to improve each other’s cultural literacy. By the end of the semester, I felt I had a better understanding of China’s culture from some of the experiences Jiabin shared with me, and Jiabin felt that her English and insight on Western culture progressed, as well.

Beijing’s contrast between historic and modern diversifies the location which is why I am thrilled to live and study there. At TBC, I will take a journalism course called Discovering China Through Film. This course will challenge me to interpret Chinese culture from an Eastern perspective. Weekly, I will write blog posts sharing my experiences in China while comparing them to some of the films watched during class. Another intriguing course I hope to take is the Intro to Chinese Martial Arts, which gives me a chance to learn a Chinese tradition that is physically engaging. There is the Yunnan Trip, which is an excursion that provides insight on the history and culture of Yunnan. This course will teach me the ethnological background of the “Minority Peoples” of China. This mix of intensive writing and history will strengthen my cultural reporting. I will be able to transfer a lot of what I learn into my reports on pop culture because I will have knowledge on how to approach historical and modern aspects of cultures different from my own. Because of the way the program’s advanced academics coincides with Chinese culture, it helps me learn about the country while also improving my journalism skills.

I know studying abroad will be an amazing experience but I still have concerns regarding finances. I attend Loyola University New Orleans which is a private Jesuit institution. I am fortunate enough to attend Loyola University New Orleans and The Beijing Center with financial aid, scholarships, and loans. My scholarships, grants, loans and financial aid cover the tuition but I am a commuter, so I am worried about the cost of  room and board, transportation, and meals. Another worry of mine is entering a racially homogeneous country. I can not deny that I am also concerned  about being Haitian American, or Black interchangeably, in China and hope to share my own culture and cultural experiences to bring about positive opinions while there.

Studying abroad will be a chance for me to invest and strengthen the foundation I am building in cultural appreciation and diversification. It will present me with more opportunities to excel professionally, and I am prepared for the growth this experience will give to me.