Nick Scott is an East Asian Studies major who attended CET Kunming Summer 2015, CIEE Accelerated Chinese Fall 2015, and Middlebury in Hangzhou Spring 2016.
I’m Nick and I spent the the last year studying in China in the cities of Kunming, Shanghai, and Hangzhou. In that time, I turned my two wonderful years of Mandarin at Oberlin into my main talent, and one that will stay with me for life. My language skills transformed from a tool of communication into a portal into new worlds of people and experiences. Going into my year abroad, I had thought that language abilities would be the most valuable reward that I would gain, but I was dearly mistaken. Instead, the perspectives and values that I learned through Chinese friends, teachers, and other acquaintances became accessible through my language and cultural knowledge, and produced a profound shift in my own mindset. At home, I may be an average American college student, but that truly means so much more in the grander scheme of things.
At a more fundamental level, my Mandarin abilities and time studying in China revealed to me a liveliness across the broad expanse of different aspects in life, and it is this kind of understanding that I have taken back with me, and has me more engaged with the vibrance of life at home and in my education than ever before. Beyond understanding language as a tool, sufficient language ability acts as a point of reception for people’s expression of the experiences in their lives. And with even a little bit of exploration, you can stumble across understandings that become treasures to you and transform your own experience of life.