You spent six weeks in China on a Department of Construction Management study abroad program. What was the country like?
It was different, but it was also really a great experience. The people are very hospitable and nice. People make a big deal about it being a communist country, but I didn’t really see it affecting people’s lives. You only noticed a real difference from our country in terms of the media. I’d go to Google and type something in and things wouldn’t pop up that were supposed to be there. The television showed nothing but news, ping-pong, or synchronized diving. I remember my dad sending me email about the big earthquake that happened over there and a lot of times he would tell me things I didn’t know about. And I was in China, and watched the news everyday. People here were talking a lot about the air pollution leading up to the Olympics, and there were times when it was bad. Your throat would start to hurt after a little while. There were other days where you could look directly at the sun. It was just an orange ball in the sky. But as we went, one day would be bad because the wind wouldn’t be blowing, but one night it rained and the next day there were clear skies.
What is college like over there?
The biggest difference between college in China and in America is that if you make good enough grades to go to school, the government pays for it. The flip side to that though is that students don’t really have a choice. The best way I had it explained to me was that it’s kind of like a draft. During one week each summer, all the construction management departments from the various universities meet and decide which students they want. Once a student gets picked by a university, that’s where they go.
What was the high point of the trip for you?
Probably climbing the Great Wall of China. I’ve done a lot of stuff, but standing on top the Great Wall of China, halfway around the world—that was pretty cool. There is an inscription at the bottom of the Great Wall of China that says you are not a man until you climb the Great Wall. So I’m a man now, which is nice.
What are your plans for after college?
I’d like to find a job that will take me back to China to work. I had so much fun over there and the people were great. I graduate in May, I’m 21 years old, why not? I love traveling and experiencing new things.