Cai Singh's Study Abroad Experience


Cai Singh is a current senior at Pacific and originally from Vancouver, Canada. Singh is also a student athlete on the swim team here at Pacific and sorority member of Alpha Phi. Cai is set to graduate Fall of 2019 and double majoring in International Relations and Chinese. She currently lives on campus and after college plans to go towards the business route and work in the corporate world.

What drew you to your major?

Growing up in Canada and the U.S., and having parents from different countries, I wanted to do something different. I felt like International Relations was a good choice because it’s broad and there are many different directions you can go in.

When did you study abroad in China

March - June 2018. Chinese New Year is in February so their calendar is offset and I started a week or two after.

What was your housing situation like?

The program provider I went through gave us three options: a homestay, dorm experience with an American roommate, or a dorm experience with a Chinese roommate. I figured a Chinese roommate would be the best option for me because it’s immersive and at the same time when you’re on campus, you’re around most of the American students too.

Did you have to take a Chinese learning class?

Yes I had three hours of Chinese a day.

How often were your classes?

Within my program, we had class Monday-Thursday which was really nice that we had three days off. Every single person in the program had to take Chinese from 9-12am and the electives were all in the afternoons/evenings.

Are you in any other clubs or organizations?

I work on campus for the modern the Languages and Literature Student Organizations department. As a student representative, I represent the department at events such as Tiger Day and promote the department to prospective and admitted students. I help them consider the possibilities of adding on a major and minor in a foreign language area of study.

How did you navigate your regular classes and then your Chinese classes?

My advisors were really helpful and for an international relations major everyone needs to have an intermediate language competency in a foreign language. So I figured if I was going to take classes up to an intermediate level, I might as well take classes up to an advanced level. Luckily, a lot of the classes crossed over and it was easy to do. Both majors helped me gain an understanding of what I want to do with Chinese and International Relations.

How did you balance being an athlete mixed with school and extracurriculars?

The most difficult part of my university experience was probably being an athlete due to the time commitment.

How was Cross Cultural Training I class before studying abroad?

I think it was helpful if you’ve never been abroad then it can be useful. Even though it’s required, it’s extra helpful if you never saw yourself going abroad at first and decide to go.  It can help with adjusting to culture shock, homesickness, and knowing what to expect when you get to a different country for sure.

What is some advice you would give about the study abroad process?

I would say definitely look to the Bechtel Office. The study abroad office was really helpful and they have good guidelines on how to select a program. It’s not hard to do at all and it’s so much easier than you would think it would be. It’s not a huge achievement to go abroad, but it’s a huge achievement to take something away from it once you come back.

The GPA requirement isn’t bad at all either. Most programs are 2.5! There are programs even catered to STEM majors as well. Often times the funds are the biggest issue but these programs are fairly affordable comparable to university tuition. For example, CIEE or IES gives $5,000 grants you can apply for or based on need.

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What’s your biggest study abroad take away?

Honestly, in every way possible it’s eye opening. You are thrust into a completely new environment depending on where you go. You are made to adapt all the time. You are made to be open-minded. You are made to be flexible and these are all transferable skills that will help you later in life. It makes you a more malleable person and how you interact with others.

“Study abroad was the highlight of my undergraduate experience”

How do you think study abroad is going to help you in your career aspirations?

It sets people apart especially if you are looking to work in an industry or region of the world that applies to the job. A lot of these programs also offer internships as well too where you can really benefit your prospects to a future employer. It’s a great life experience. The people I met and the experiences I’ve had,  along with picture and food are priceless. As a graduating senior, my favorite semester was when I was abroad.

Follow excaiting_rainbow on Instagram for more of Cai’s adventures!