My name is Michael Andrews. I just finished my sophomore year at the University of Pittsburgh. I am dual majoring in Finance and Supply Chain Management with a minor in Chinese. This summer I will be traveling to a northern city in China called Dalian through the Critical Language Scholarship Program. Traveling has always been one of my favorite things to do. I have traveled to 6 different countries from Greece to Vietnam and at each place I learn more about the people that live there and also more about myself.
The desire to study in China comes from my experiences last summer in South East Asia. I spent 2 months interning at a hedge fund in Hong Kong and a month at a hedge fund administrator in Singapore. This experience really solidified my desire to continue learning Mandarin. These two cities are some of the top in the world in terms of business and I would be fortunate to work in either.
I have taken Mandarin for 4 semesters at Pitt, but my language capabilities aren’t progressing as quickly as it would have if I had taken one of the Romance languages. Luckily the United States government believes there is a need for Americans to speak Chinese, so they created a program called the Critical Language Scholarship. The government created this program to expand the number of Americans learning languages critical to “national security and economic prosperity.” For Mandarin, this program is for 2 months filled with classes, excursions, and cultural activities with a focus on learning about the language and culture of China. All of the classes are taken in Mandarin and we must agree to only speak Chinese while abroad to maximize the growth of our language abilities. This is a very intimidating aspect of this program, but I believe that the best way to learn is in a “sink or swim” situation. If I had the option to use English, I would likely use it in any situation that I could. Another advantage of this program is that I will be living in a homestay, so I will be able to get an inside look at Chinese culture through this family.
In the future I would love to work for an international company that does business in China. I could also see myself working in the state department with a focus on foreign investment. My goals for this program is first and foremost to rapidly increase my language abilities, but I also want to understand the culture and deep history.
This program only lasts 2 months which I know will not be enough time to reach proficiency, so I will be following this program with a semester in Shanghai. I am excited for my time abroad, but I am sure it will be a rollercoaster with many successes and many lessons.