Name: Craig Olson
Major/minors: Computer Science major, Math and Business minors
Program: Huawei Seeds for the Future
Location: Beijing and Shenzhen, China
Term: Summer 2016
What was the program like?
Huawei is a telecommunications company, like a Chinese Apple. They’re a global leader that brings groups of students to Beijing and their campus in Shenzhen.
We were at the Language and Culture University in Beijing for a week and had intro Mandarin and Chinese painting and calligraphy classes. They also took us on sightseeing tours to places like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. So there was a focus on cultural immersion.
After that we went to the company headquarters in Shenzhen. We stayed on the campus there and worked on telecommunications.
How did you find out about the program?
I received emails from Education Abroad and from the Information Science and Technology department.
What was the application like?
I submitted a resume focused on STEM and international experiences, and I had to write an essay – basically a statement of purpose – about why I wanted to participate in the program. Then I also needed a letter of recommendation.
Over three-hundred applications were submitted for the program across the nation, and I was one of about twenty students chosen for the program.
Take your time with the application process and work with your instructors.
- Craig Olson
How did you finance your travel?
They paid for everything! Flights, travel, classes, housing, food. For them, it’s a networking opportunity with different people around the world.
What were the highlights for you?
I really enjoyed the sightseeing in Beijing, and the Shenzhen campus was very cool to see. They’re a really successful company and we could see their exhibition halls and advanced technology. It was also a highlight to be able to experience such a different culture.
Did you experience any culture shock?
Not too bad, because we had a translator and group leader during our time there. I think it would have been harder without a translator. The weather was difficult to deal with at times, since we were there in July and August – we all joked about the "Beijing Bikini," when men would roll up their shirts to deal with the heat and humidity.
Did you notice any cultural or content differences in what you were learning?
The lecture style was similar to the US, but the classes were really long. The online access was the biggest difference, like what you can access and how you do research. Google, for instance, is blocked in China, so if you needed to know something it was not a simple case of doing a Google search.
You went on a faculty-led program, too. How did this compare?
Right before this program I went on the History in Italy program. That program was unique in itself – it was very independent, and you had a say in where you went and what you did. This was more structured and organized because of our guide and classes, with a lot more group work. And also Italy and China are very different.
Do you have any advice for someone else interested in this program?
Take your time with the application process and work with your instructors. Build your diversity and showcase that you are well-rounded!
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