My name is Katie McClure and I am going to be studying Chinese this fall at Peking University in Beijing! I am so excited for the chance to get to share my experiences with you in the hope that you will all consider going abroad! I did get the chance to study abroad last summer in China, and so you might hear me compare experiences and advise on what I found most helpful!
There are so many things you forget you’ll miss when you study abroad; no matter what year or semester you go. Last fall I didn’t know I was going to be in China come the same time next year. And I certainly didn’t realize that this semester was going to be the last of my undergraduate career. Did I go to all the football games I wanted to? Eat all the spicy cheesy bread I could? Jump in the lake enough times? This summer I made sure to go down my Bucky List and do some of those activities I’ve always wanted to do. I watched the sunrise from Picnic Point, had an enormous breakfast at Mickie’s, and went paddle boarding for the first time. It was a great summer!
But you guys want to hear about packing obviously, it’s the highlight of everyone’s study abroad right? Or maybe not… Packing proved to be more difficult than I expected. I’ve been working in Madison all summer and so all of my fall/winter clothing was back in Chicago and my summer clothing was on my back. The process ended up being a weird series of going home on the weekend, packing a little, buying a little, returning to Madison, and repeat. I was also slowly moving things out of my apartment all summer as well. But I was pleasantly surprised at how fast the actual packing process went after I had sorted out all I hoped to bring. I ziplocked all my clothing so they were as small as they could be and I barely filled my checked bag. And hence why I ended up with more clothing! My specific trip doesn’t allow a lot of time for independent travel so the mantra of less is more isn’t too critical, I’m happy having all the options.
Another challenge I’ve had was the phone issue. I have an iPhone 6 and use AT&T, but international data and calling plans are crazy expensive. Last time I was in Beijing I chose not to get a data plan and I definitely got a little lost at one point. I don’t wish to repeat the experience. And so after some research I’ve found that probably the easiest and most cost effective method is to buy an unlocked Android once I get to China and then buy a SIM card with a data and international plan. The switch to using Android is going to be a struggle; I have been an apple girl all my life! But besides packing and the phone issue, getting ready to go has been a breeze. I had an online orientation in which I discovered that there are only about seven of us in my group. It makes me wonder how classes will be structured since I assume we are not all in the same level of Chinese. I guess I’ll find out!