This January, I will be leaving to study abroad for a semester at the City University of Hong Kong as part of the CSI Ambassador Exchange Program. The program, which is a semester long and conducted through the City University of Hong Kong, is designed to give CSI students an opportunity to study the Humanities and Social Sciences while living abroad and representing the College of Staten Island as student ambassadors.
I chose to study abroad in Hong Kong because of my long time fascination with Chinese culture. Ever since I was young, I can remember the excitement of travelling into Chinatown with my parents to buy practical items (i.e. school supplies, book bags) and some novelty items (i.e. a pink kimono and slippers I wore for a school presentation I did on China in the sixth grade) which caused me to grow up with an admiration for Chinese and Asian culture. Also, whenever I meet students my age from China or any foreign country who are travelling to the United States for the first time, I usually designate myself as an unofficial tour guide who is eager to answer questions about where the best tourist attractions and places to shop are located while listening to their stories about where they are from and how they came to America. In the same way, I would like to experience what it feels like to be an observer of another country as a “foreigner” and ask questions of native Hong Kongers that will introduce me to new customs, ideas, and ultimately expand my worldview.
Upon graduating, I plan to pursue my master’s degree in either Developmental Psychology or Educational Psychology. My goal is to become licensed psychologist and conduct research on how individuals are motivated to learn over the lifespan while counseling teachers, parents, and students on how to maximize learning potential in minority and low socioeconomic groups. This program will allow me the opportunity to take three undergraduate courses, including Mandarin for Non-Chinese Speakers, Psychology of Learning, and a 3rd elective class, which are relevant to my course of study in graduate school, as well as learn about the Chinese culture from a unique and completely different perspective.
Apart from my academic and career goals, I intend to travel abroad in order to increase my sense of independence, self-assertiveness, and cultural awareness. Dr. Johnetta Cole, President of the Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina, once said that, “You cannot fully understand your life without knowing and thinking beyond your own life, your own neighborhood, and even your own nation”. In order to be an ambassador and represent my family, my community, and my school while studying abroad in a foreign country, I must learn to think beyond myself by exploring new places and ideas on my own that will ultimately make me a more proactive and self aware learner in school and life. Learning a new language is another one of my goals. Living and working on classroom projects with fellow classmates who are speaking Cantonese will give me access to conversations that will help me learn new words and phrases which I can use in the field of psychology as I talk with students and parents who are native to Southeast China.
I am excited yet equally nervous about embarking on this study abroad journey. For one, I will be immersed in a culture that is completely different from what I am used to and will be placed in situations that I normally wouldn’t encounter in America (i.e. asking how much a bowl of noodles costs in Cantonese). While living in Hong Kong, I will also have to adjust to the cultural norms of the country, which may lead to symptoms of culture shock. However, I am very excited to have the opportunity to visit the nature and cultural sites in Hong Kong such as Victoria Peak and the Tian Tan Buddha, which are scenic and absolutely incredible to behold. Overall, I believe that with a little optimism and lots of hope, I will find my way in Hong Kong as I experience living and learning as a student ambassador!