College consists of classes, papers, big games, and often, long nights—whether studying, or out experiencing the extra curricular side of things. You can spend your four years any way you want. It’s a time to learn what you like and have fun, before “real life” starts. One way students like to get the most out of their time is to study or travel abroad. What better way to see the world, and learn from a different angle?

I’m a firm believer in travel. It could be across the globe, or down the street, but regardless, I’m a fan of getting out and seeing something new. It was no surprise then that at the beginning of my junior year, last fall, I was contemplating signing up for the travel study course to China.

A travel study is different than studying abroad. Instead of spending a semester over seas you combine the hands on trip experience with a classroom component. In this case, the trip consisted of a Business in China course over the semester, concluding with a two-week trip to china at the beginning of May.

There were pros and cons to wanting to go: I would be in China, which was hard to pass up, however, the course was scheduled as a night class, and I would have to take my spring finals a week early in time to leave for the trip. I weighed my options, and without so much as batting an eye, I turned in my application. I had almost an entire semester to save up for the trip, and I knew that a trip to China was not something I could easily turned down—when else would I get to travel there with an experienced professor who was from the area?

The fall semester flew by and before I knew it I was ready to start the course in preparation for our two-week trip in May. I knew the trip itself would be amazing, but I was skeptical about spending a semester “getting ready” to go. What could I learn in a classroom three months before I left that I couldn’t learn once we got there?

Looking back now, taking a class about China before I ever went there made all the difference.

Before I go into detail about why you should all visit China, here are the top reasons to spend time preparing before any over seas trip.

  • A class, or at least research on the area, will prepare you for what’s to come. China was a fascinating place, but without at least some prior knowledge about culture norms, or acceptable practices, I would have been lost.
  • A class will put topics, or facts, or any previous knowledge about a place into context. I knew some things about China, but taking a class allowed me to understand why certain things are the way they are.
  • Preparation will help you prepare a game plan, or some list of places, sites, foods, or experience you want to make sure you don’t miss.
  • Questions. By preparing before a big trip, especially to a place as different as China, it allows you time to ask questions, make arrangements, and start your journey feeling confident and ready.

In my next China blog post, I will share my favorite moments from my trip and hopefully help you start to plan your future itinerary!

– Ring Queen