China: Riley Palkert

Riley standing on the Great Wall of China
On the Great Wall of China outside of Beijing

Program: UW Art, Design & Wellness, Summer

Riley’s Majors: Interior Architecture and certificate in Sustainability

What did you learn about yourself or the world because of your experience?

My experience in China made me realize just how big the world is and how many different perspectives and experiences there are within that world. It’s so important to be open to other interpretations of things and challenge yourself to think about things from a different perspective.

How were your program academics similar or different from taking classes at UW-Madison?

The academics on the trip were based in experiential learning and reflection. There were various times that we sat in a room and listened to someone talk, but it was different people every time and they were always so excited to teach us somethin they were passionate about and about their culture. Most of the learning was simply absorbing the different things we experienced and reflecting on them throughout, then connecting them all at the end. I found this to be a very effective way to learn about Chinese culture and compare it with Western culture and your other experiences.

Riley standing in front of lit up buildings of Shanghai's financial district at night
View of Shanghai’s Financial District from The Bund

What is your advice for someone considering this program?

This program is a really awesome opportunity because the instructor (Prof. Wei Dong) is originally from China so he knows all the best places to go and has lots of connections. He truly makes the best of your time there and is so passionate about making it a great experience. China can be an intimidating country to navigate on your own, so having a personal tour guide like Wei makes this program a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s a shorter program that allows students to travel to different cities and see different parts of the country. I would highly recommend this program!

“It’s so important to be open to other interpretations of things and challenge yourself to think about things from a different perspective.”