In her role as a Chinese Flagship Program student ambassador, Emily Hadfield often met with students who were thinking about the program. The advice she often gave about learning Chinese: “It’s not hard; it’s different.”
This mindset has proven successful for the Global Business Management and Chinese student. She chose the program because she wanted an intensive preparation in the language, and her perspective helped shape her experience as she rose to meet each challenge. “I gave so much to this program,” Emily says, “And it is worth every single hour, because of the camaraderie you build with fellow students and the friendships that you form. These challenges become easier to tackle when you surround yourself with people with likeminded goals. My classmates have become lifelong friends.”
Emily is completing final weeks of her capstone year in China; her third experience abroad during the Flagship Program. She took classes among Chinese peers and served on an internship at an international engineering firm part-time. “Spending longer than six months abroad places you in a different realm,” Emily says. “In the beginning, you are still a tourist, but as you connect with people, you become part of the society.”
Emily has gained a unique appreciation for Chinese culture. She found that the classroom experience was very different in a Chinese University. Her fellow students seldom raised their hands, met with teachers, or even turned in assignments. “The educational system is highly rigorous up through high school, with every waking hour devoted to studies,” she says. “But when they reach the university level, they can just attend class, without having to test themselves as much.” She also found that her classmates and colleagues were as eager to learn from her as she was from them. “The firm where I interned has offices in South Carolina and Shanghai, as well as many customers from the Netherlands, so they make an effort to use their English names and learn about your culture,” she says. “It was definitely an even exchange.”
When Emily returns to the U.S., she will begin a job with the Newton, Massachusetts admission consultancy firm, AcceptU, as a bilingual marketing associate. “It is perfect for me because I will spend 90% of my time speaking Chinese,” Emily says.
For Emily, one of the most valuable aspects of the Flagship Program was how it kick-started the way she challenges herself. “You get the sense that you can do anything,” she says. “After graduation, I see not just a job, but a life filled with new challenges because I have been exposed to things most people haven’t.”