This blog was written by Lauren Nevidomsky, a Campus Ambassador from Binghamton University. She is studying Political Science and Global Management and would love to work in sports one day. Follow her on Twitter at @nevidomsky92.
How many people can say they’ve been to China? When I told people I was going there, many asked “Why?” My response was always “Why Not?” I knew that I wouldn’t be met with many of the modern necessities as I would have had I gone to travel in Europe or Australia, for instance, but I knew that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I could not give up.
This past summer, I spent ten days in China. I travelled to this exotic country for a class called Doing Business in China: An Emerging Market, which has since contributed to my International Business degree. Over the course of the trip, the group of 10 other students, 2 professors, and I, spent time sight-seeing in Beijing, Tianjing, Xian, and Shanghai, and conducting employer visits in Beijing’s financial district to better understand China’s burgeoning position in the global economy.
I could tell you about all the sights I saw and the things we did, but I’m sure that wouldn’t have much meaning. Everyone knows that the Great Wall has amazing views, and that Shanghai is becoming one of the most beautiful and modern cities to date. What will be meaningful however, is my takeaway:
Coming from a very sheltered background, I spent much of my time in China being frustrated with the local infrastructure, the seemingly unregulated traffic, and the dirt and filth that filled the streets in what seemed like ultra-modern cities. Yet, when I took a step back to process all of this, I came to realize what an “Emerging Economy” really meant. I should have realized that Emerging Economy is not equivalent to Developed, and that even though some things would resemble my life in America, many things would not.
All in all, if you have the potential to travel to a Developing or Emerging Economy, I implore you to do so. Of course it won’t be as luxurious as time spent lounging on a beautiful beach at an All-Inclusive in the Caribbean, but it will really open up your eyes to how people live in a world separate from your own. Although I did not experience the dire poverty of the Chinese countryside, what I saw in many of the aforementioned cities was enough to make me realize that despite China’s GDP and its place in the global economy, it still has a long way to go until many of its citizens live clean and prosperous lives.
What I saw and did in China is truly something I’ll never forget. Travelling helps make one a more global citizen, and if studying abroad for a semester isn’t in your future, you should try to find experiences such as the one I had. My whole outlook on the country and the world itself has definitely shifted, and I know I am a better person because of it.