By: Carolyna Lopez
Over the summer, I had the incredible opportunity to study abroad through the Ontario-Jiangsu (OJS) Summer Language & Culture Program at Jiangnan University in Wuxi, Jiangsu, China. This experience allowed me to complete part of my undergraduate degree in a hands-on way I never expected to learn by.
Being able to actually visit the historical sites we were learning about was a whole new approach to learning for me. Whether it was overlooking the city as I stood on the 600-year-old City Wall of Nanjing, or visiting a night market and learning the cultural aspects of each category of Chinese cuisine, it was an irreplaceable experience. Through my prior courses at McMaster, I was frequently used to being taught theory in a conventional way. In China, I attended theoretical lectures, but learning was also very hands-on; I learned about various types of pottery by making my own creations and the symbolism of decorative knots while weaving my own. At Jiangnan University, I also attended lectures that taught me the beauty and thought process behind the different Chinese characters. I also was given the opportunity to learn Chinese, a language that was developed thousands of years ago.
This experience has continued to help me build on the skill of being open-minded. In Jiangsu, I learned about many different aspects of culture and learned different perspectives that I would not traditionally have had in Canada. Being able to approach a situation and think about things in a more creative and unique way than I normally would is a skill I have learned from my time in Jiangsu. I have learned to be more adaptable and have developed a new way of thinking by now knowing there is never just one approach to a situation. In the field of law, this is a skill that is needed in order to evaluate cases from all possible sides and this out-of-the-box thinking is exactly what is needed when trying to problem-solve. This new way of thinking is a skill that will be extremely useful to me in my future endeavours as a student in and in my future career path as a lawyer.
Carolyna Lopez is a student in Communications & Media program, Faculty of Humanities, at McMaster University. She took part in the Ontario-Jiangsu (OJS) two-week summer language & culture program at Jiangnan University, China.
McMaster students can also do summer language study through the Ontario/Rhône-Alpes and Ontario/Baden-Württemberg Summer Language Programs.