Megan H


Name: Megan H

Language: Chinese

Location of Study: Beijing, China

Program of Study: Beijing Language Summer Program

Sponsors: Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures, Liu Endowment

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A brief personal bio:

Hi there! My name is Megan H, and I’m a sophomore at Notre Dame majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Chinese. On campus, I am a cadet in Air Force ROTC, which means that I am doing military training during my time at Notre Dame and will commission as an officer in the United States Air Force upon graduation. I’m also a trumpet in the University of Notre Dame Marching Band (the greatest band in the world), and I work as a tour guide for the Office of Admissions. I almost always have a Starbucks in my hand, and when I’m not in class you can usually find me reading, joining a pick-up sports game on the quad, or simply admiring the beauty of Notre Dame’s campus.

Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:

I decided to start learning Chinese last summer with no previous experience with the language. However, when I began studying Chinese, something just clicked. I loved learning about the character radicals and about how meaningful each stroke of the characters are. I loved focusing on the rhythm of the language, and learning to use the tone of my voice to infuse different meanings into sounds. I loved that each week I could recognize more characters and read more sentences. I loved that I was challenged to think about the history and culture of another country, while looking forward to the difficulties and opportunities our current relations with China will present.

Studying Chinese has made me and more confident and curious person, and has shown me that some of the best things happen when you step outside your comfort zone. It has taught me to start at the beginning, try, practice, and ask questions. These are lessons that I hope to continue to build upon during the summer language abroad program this summer.

From a purely academic standpoint, studying abroad will be extremely beneficial because it will propel my language proficiency forward at a rate unmatched by domestic study. On a more personal level, I am simply EXCITED to study Chinese abroad, outside the comfort zone of Notre Dame’s campus, immersed in the Chinese culture, and around like-minded Notre Dame students with whom I can grow and learn – even after returning to campus! I believe that studying abroad in Beijing will present many challenges and worries, but will ultimately make me more humble, sensitive to others’ perspectives, eager to reach out to new people, and excited to take on new challenges. 

What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:

My overarching language goal for this summer is to become conversationally fluent in Chinese. I want to feel comfortable ordering food in Chinese, asking for directions in Chinese, talking about interests and current event with new friends, etc. A requirement for my program is that I am only allowed to speak Chinese while abroad; I believe that if I adhere to this and if I actively try to speak with new friends and people in Beijing, then this language proficiency goal will be more than achievable.

My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:

My personal goals are to become more inter-culturally competent and twilling to step outside of my comfort zone. Especially considering I have never been out of the United States, I know that traveling overseas will be an overwhelming experience; it will be tempting to just stay around Notre Dame students and never venture out into the city. However, my goal for myself is to push myself to do things like strike up conversations in Chinese, try new and interesting foods, and be open to new ways of doing things. I want to use this incredible study abroad opportunity to really immerse myself in (and learn from) the Chinese language and culture – even though it probably will include some embarrassing or uncomfortable moments!

I’m looking forward to going to China and sharing my experiences. Stay tuned for more updates!

My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience: