Caleb McGill is currently a junior at Presbyterian College from Fort Mill, S.C. who is studying abroad this semester. As part of his international studies major and Chinese studies minor he is studying at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, China. Below is a Q&A where he describes his experience:
1. Did you get to choose where you did your study abroad? If so, what make you decide this particular location compared to others?
Yes, I had the opportunity to choose where I studied abroad. I decided on Hong Kong for a number of reasons. I am a Chinese Studies minor, and studying here allowed me to be immersed in the culture I have been learning about. Also, Hong Kong is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan and international cities; it’s an incredibly unique blend of Eastern and Western culture, and I was excited to live somewhere that was so different from home, yet shared some of the comforts I am used to. Furthermore, several of my classmates also decided to study here, and I thought it would be nice to have a group of people I knew while I was in Hong Kong.
2. What classes are you taking while you are there?
I am taking a couple of international business/relations courses, a Mandarin language class, contemporary Chinese politics and government, and an introduction to Indian history.
3. How do you think this experience helped you in your studies?
It has allowed me to actually become a part of the culture I have only read about and seen on TV. I have gained so much more knowledge from getting to experience living in a different country, and it has allowed me to put some of my knowledge into practical use, such as using Mandarin.
4. What has been the most interesting thing you’ve done so far?
I have had many interesting experiences, but I think the most interesting thing so far has been traveling to the Philippines and swimming with whale sharks. It was such a unique and amazing opportunity, and the Philippines was absolutely beautiful.
5. What is one tip you would give your fellow classmates about studying abroad?
I would say to keep in mind that it’s not all about traveling to exciting and exotic places, meeting people from all over the world, and having a lot of fun. Although those things are certainly an important part of the experience, it’s also important to remember that you will actually have classes and schoolwork, and it can be stressful at times to juggle that while living in a completely foreign environment. Having said that, I am definitely glad I decided to do it. The positives far outweigh the negatives. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
6. What has been the most challenging thing while there?
At first, the most challenging thing was dealing with so many new things all in a very short time span. It was very overwhelming at first- getting a tour of the campus, going through orientation, meeting so many new people, starting classes structured differently from PC, and learning where everything is located/how to get around. Now that I have been here for over two months, however, I think the most challenging thing is homesickness. As much as I love it here, I really do miss my friends and family. And although I am going to be sad when I leave Hong Kong, I think I’m going to be equally excited to be home.
7. What did you expect to gain from studying abroad?
I expected to gain new perspective/insight of the world, make friendships with people from all over the world, improve my Chinese, and become a more independent and confident person.
8. If you could pack your bags again, what would you not bring along with you?
I actually did a fairly good job with packing. I didn’t pack too much, especially compared with some people! From a practical standpoint, I would say to not worry about packing things like large bottles of shampoo, conditioner, contact solution, etc. These are things that can be bought locally, and taking travel size with you is all you need. The big bottles are heavy and take up a lot of room.