Coming into UChicago, I had pretty much no idea what I wanted to do with my life. However, I did know that I wanted the opportunity to travel and learn abroad. Beyond all the different study abroad opportunities, I quickly realized that UChicago offers multiple extensive opportunities to travel, learn, and work abroad—starting as early as your first year! In fact, last summer I spent two and a half months working and traveling abroad.
Through both the Metcalf Internship Program and the International Experience Grant, I was able to get paid for my job and also received funding to ensure that travel costs would not be a burden. I worked as a counselor at a summer camp in Suzhou, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, where I got to teach kids from the ages of five to thirteen different STEM lessons alongside another one of my friends from UChicago, Maddie. In fact, it was a girl from one of our shared RSOs (what we call clubs at UChicago) that passed along our names to help us get the job! We spent our weekdays teaching alongside other American college students and got to spend our weekends exploring.
One of my favorite weekends in China was travelling from Suzhou to Hangzhou to see some of my friends from UChicago who were in Hangzhou for the summer learning about clean energy through the Wan Xiang Program, sponsored by UChicago. During the summer, they had all been taking Chinese lessons, so by the time I visited they were able to show me around the city like pros! I was also able to meet up with a friend who was working at a UChicago-founded education consulting agency in Shanghai.
Later in the summer, while working in Hong Kong, I was also able to use the newly built UChicago Center. It was really cool for me because I was quite literally halfway around the world and UChicago was still creating opportunities for me. In fact, I was able to meet a lot of UChicago alumni in Hong Kong as well, all of whom were enthusiastic about speaking with UChicago undergrads and incredibly willing to get to know me.
The summer came to a close with my first-year roommate actually coming to China and visiting me! I’d been in China so long that by the time she visited, I was the one showing her all around Shanghai and Beijing. Before starting college, I never would have imagined having the opportunity to travel all over Asia by the end of my first year—and getting paid to do so no less! UChicago has opened doors that have given me the opportunities and experiences of a lifetime, and I am so excited to see what my final two years have in store.