Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wordless Wednesday: The Start of the Spring Semester

Student blogger, Alexandra Hansen shares her photos taken during the first two weeks of spring semester. This week’s wordless Wednesday features photos of the spring semester banwei (student committee) elections, a day-trip to Suzhou, Nanjing’s plum blossom hill (梅花山), a massive bookstore located in a parking garage down the street from campus, and the HNC basketball semi-finals game.

Photos by Alexandra Hansen, Certificate '18

Friday, March 16, 2018

Four Tips for a Rewarding Second Semester

As the HNC spring semester gets underway, I thought it would be a good time to offer some advice from their predecessors as to how to make this last semester at the HNC really count. The first semester involves so much learning and constant improvements, and keeping that pace up through the second will ensure students get just as much out of their second semester.

Tip 1: Consider a more challenging class: In the fall, it can be tempting to go for a more manageable workload – be it taking classes with subjects you are more comfortable with, or ones with relatively fewer readings on the syllabus.  In the spring, you have a semester of graduate level Chinese classes under your belt, and it’s time for some of those more intimidating, challenging classes! I did this with taking Econometrics which involved both theory and the practical skills of learning how to use the program STATA. Another option might be to take a discussion seminar, like the Advanced Seminar in US-China Relations. You may even just commit to taking that class where the content really appeals to you, but you were initially scared off by the heavy accent of the professor!

Tip 2: Aim higher in your participation and written work: Everyone has their own preference in terms of how much they like to talk in class, which is understandable. But one of the best ways to get your spoken Chinese to a highly sophisticated level is by actively participating in every class – the professors will not hesitate to point out holes in your argument or push back on your statements, ultimately making for better, more persuasive communication skills. It also gets you thinking even more critically about the readings. Another aspect to this is pushing yourself to really level up in your written work for the classes you’re taking – trying to form more sophisticated sentences, using more varied vocabulary and choosing topics that are a little out of the box are all great ways to do this.

Tip 3: Engage in an activity: Now that your Chinese reading speed is so elevated, it’s time to do something with all that time you’re saving! The HNC has a plethora of student organized interest groups that meet regularly (or maybe even start your own!) Dragon boat training starts in the spring (and for the less athletic, dragon boat cheerleading). Moreover, the HNC offers cultural courses in Tai Chi, Calligraphy and Erhu. And for the politically inclined, there’s always the option of running for Banwei (the student committee).

View from Yuejiang Tower on Shizishan (Lion Mountain) in Nanjing

Tip 4: Make a Nanjing bucket list: Something special about the HNC’s location in Nanjing is that as students there, we really get the chance to explore and get to know the city really well. Even if you stay in China or return in later years, a lot of the international professionals in China end up in places like Beijing or Shanghai. With this in mind, it’s important to make the most of the remaining time you have as a Nanjing inhabitant, and go out and enjoy all that the city has to offer! In the spring semester, some of our favourite weekend sightseeing activities were visiting the Tangshan hot springs, the plum blossom festival on Purple Mountain and the Sifang modern art and architecture park.

 Written by Anna Woods, HNC Certificate/SAIS MA '18

Thursday, March 8, 2018

HNC Alumni Profile: Jessica Wong

Jessica Wong graduated from Wesleyan University in 2009 and received her Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) in 2011 from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center after studying in Nanjing for two years. Since 2014, she has worked as a Business Risk Intelligence Manager at Abbott Laboratories.

How did you find yourself at the HNC?
Part of my major requirement to earn an East Asian Studies degree when I was in college was to spend a semester abroad, so I decided to go to China - and I loved the experience. My mentor at the time in college told me in order to become a “China hand” you have to go to China and spend significant time in the country. So, I applied and was accepted to the HNC MAIS two-year degree program. At the time, I was also interested in doing more research in China. Being of Cantonese descent, I have a lot of connections in Guangdong, so I knew I wanted to do research there for my master’s thesis. I have very fond memories of my time at HNC. I had a good two years there. In fact, my HNC roommate recently got married and she asked me to come to her wedding - we still have a good relationship.

Can you tell us about your current role as a Business Risk Intelligence Manager at Abbott Laboratories?
Abbott Laboratories is an American multinational healthcare company. In my role, I conduct political risk and security risk forecasting for the Asia region. The company has assets all over the world and because it’s so globally dispersed, it can be impacted by political risk trends. When we talk about political risk at a very basic level, we are asking, is this country stable and does it provide a good operating environment for businesses? So I’m always looking at trends when it comes to healthcare or business, and trying to figure out if they impact the company’s ability to make money and invest. Many political science courses you can take at the HNC or in college may seem really abstract but I think that there are many spaces you can apply that knowledge that are not limited to diplomacy. Political science isn’t just limited to people who want to be in government – there is a lot of demand in the corporate sector for this type of “know-how” as well.

That’s fascinating that you are undertaking political risk and security risk research in your everyday work. Is the research done in Chinese, English, or both?
At my current job, I probably spend about 40% of my time on China issues, but the skill that got me here was the fact that I could do policy research in Chinese with no trouble; I still do this type of research today. Since I work at a healthcare company, I have to look at technical documents to keep up with the latest policy trends. For example, companies have to follow certain compliance standards for making or selling a new type of product. I’ll read those documents in Chinese and then have to explain them in plain language. I do still read Chinese every day for my job.

What is one skill you gained from your time at the HNC?
One of the greatest skills I gained while at the HNC that is still useful today in my career, even 5-6 years later, is policy research. As in, all of those really long documents that we read for class at the HNC about how China sets policy for all areas of life. At the HNC, I really picked up the ability to process a huge volume of characters very quickly. Since then, I’ve just refreshed that skill in terms of research topic scope every time I’ve either changed jobs or internships. I am where I am today because the HNC pushed me to develop policy research expertise, attention to detail, and grit to get through challenging material.

Was there a defining experience at the HNC that influenced steps you later took in your career?
The master’s thesis was one of the most defining experiences at the HNC for me. My entire thesis was in Chinese, titled “新课程改革对农村小学的影响:来自广东的个案研究”/ “The New Curriculum Reforms: A Case Study on Rural Primary Schools in the Guangdong Province.” Writing in Chinese was very challenging, but that was when I began honing on my ability to process information very quickly. The execution, such as compiling my research material and then also trying to define the story that I was trying to tell with my thesis, was the most difficult part of the process. However, once I had to defend my thesis orally, it wasn’t that hard, since at that point, I had spent many months immersed in the research.

The thesis experience was critical to my professional development because it was during that time that I thought to myself, if someone were to ask me to do policy research for any company or for any organization, I knew I could definitively say, yes, I can do it.

What was your most memorable experience from the HNC?
The most memorable experience for me was the dragon boat competition. There was a classmate of mine that led the team for two years and we actually placed third in an amateur competition. During my first year, we weren’t that serious, we only started practicing in the spring semester. We would get up at 5am about 2-3 times a week to practice and then afterwards get breakfast together as a team. In my second year, we decided to start rowing during the fall semester so we would have more time to prepare before competing. It was a great way to make friends. Some of my best memories at the HNC, outside of academics, are with the dragon boat team.

What do you believe is one of the best resources available to HNC students?
The HNC made a great decision by hiring Robbie Shields, the HNC Career Counselor. He was actually not there when I was a student, so it was more difficult finding career development resources back then. I got to know Robbie because he comes to Shanghai to do the Shanghai career trek and alumni events. He’s done a great job helping students and I think students should definitely go see him. Even if they are not sure of what they want to do, they should go to him and have a conversation.

Any advice you would give to current or future HNC students about the type of work you currently do in political risk consulting?
Generally speaking, political risk consulting or risk management is seen as very mysterious, but it really isn’t - there are a lot of exciting problems you can solve by entering these industries. Additionally, consulting companies specializing in these fields sometimes give talks at the HNC to explain what it is they do. I would give students this advice: Don’t be intimidated by the labels, especially if you’re not sure what the job really is. Go to the corporate presentations and listen to their representatives to see if it’s something for you. I think if you don’t have the exposure, you might not know the full range of opportunities there are for you. Just go in, listen, and see for yourself.

 Written by Emily Rivera, HNC Certificate ‘18

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Spring Festival Holiday and Celebrating Chinese New Year

Current student, Amanda Bogan, MAIS '18, shares her experience of celebrating Chinese New Year in Shanxi province and also taking some of the holiday to do her thesis research. 

After the Chinese New Year holiday, many HNC students returned from trips to exotic locales both inside and outside of China. Students will often use the long winter holiday to travel around Asia; some went to Korea for the Olympics, while others explored nearby Taiwan, Vietnam, and Thailand. Still other students took advantage of the break to conduct valuable field research on their thesis topics.

HNC student Su Mengfei (MAIS ‘18), for example, spent several weeks working at an NGO in rural Cambodia, doing research on ecotourism while learning about local social issues and how a grassroots organization is operated. While traveling throughout Vietnam and Cambodia, Margie Tanner (MAIS ’18) conducted interviews with human rights NGOs which provide legal assistance to victims of trafficking who are awaiting repatriation and upon return to their home countries.

I decided to spend most of my holiday within the PRC, wanting to both make progress on some academic research for my Master’s topic, and to experience the holiday here in China with my Chinese friends. During the first half of my vacation, I caught up on readings and online research, while also doing some preliminary writing for my thesis. After spending several afternoons working in coffee shops around Nanjing, I was excited to travel outside of the city and participate in some of the New Year festivities.

New Year's Eve dinner (年夜饭)
Traveling in China is one of my favorite ways to experience Chinese society and culture. Although Chinese New Year can be notorious for big crowds and sold-out tickets, I’ve learned that planning ahead and reserving tickets as far in advance as possible can help ensure relatively stress-free travel experience, even during the holidays. What’s more, finding myself sitting next to a stranger on a plane or in a crowded train car has often led to some interesting conversations with locals, while also allowing me to reflect on my improved ability to discuss a wide range of current issues in Chinese.

I passed the New Year’s holiday in Shanxi province with some of my close Chinese friends. Having lived in Shanxi for a year before coming to the HNC, coming back feels like returning to my 老家; this trip was particularly special as it was my first chance to spend the Chinese New Year in China with a Chinese family. It was a very traditional celebration, much of our time was spent making countless dumplings from scratch, watching the New Year’s Eve variety show (春晚),and walking around outside looking at the holiday lanterns and fireworks. I also had to opportunity to discuss my thesis research with a close friend of mine who is a Chinese professor, giving me some new perspectives on my topic.

南大‘s East Gate at night
Although the holiday seemed to pass by faster than expected, I now feel rejuvenated and excited to return to classes and get back to working on my thesis writing. I’m happy to be back to Nanjing, reunite with friends and classmates, and start preparing for the coming semester. 祝大家狗年快乐!

Written by Amanda Bogan, MAIS '18

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Impressions on the 2018 Asia Career Trek

From January 15-19, 10 students from Nanjing and 10 students from Washington, DC embarked on the annual Asia Career Trek, a week-long trip to a variety of companies and firms in Shanghai and Hong Kong including: Wells Fargo, Deloitte, KPMG, Johnson & Johnson, HSBC, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Control Risks, Goldman Sachs, and the Economist Intelligence Unit. Current students Teng Men and Kris Rodulfo share what they learned during their meetings on the trek.

SAIS and HNC students visit Wells Fargo in Shanghai.

During the week-long Asia Career Trek, we had the opportunity to visit a variety of companies and firms ranging from finance, risk management, and healthcare in Shanghai and Hong Kong including, Johnson & Johnson, HSBC, and Morgan Stanley. We were kindly received by many of the employees at these companies, most of whom were SAIS or HNC alumni. The alumni were at all different points in their career, and the stories they shared about their work was illustrative and helpful to understand the businesses we visited.

In our meetings with various practitioners, we learned a great deal about professionalism in the workplace. First, always be prepared. Basic qualities associated with preparedness include punctuality, professional attire, a clear mind, necessary knowledge, and understanding of the topic. The importance of these attributes was reiterated to us in our meetings in Hong Kong. During our visit to Control Risks, a member of their senior leadership began the meeting by asking us specific questions about the company, such as the name of the CEO, the location of the company’s headquarters, and the name of the company’s online platform. During our meeting at Natixis, SAIS Alumna Ms. Trinh Nguyen, a Vice President and Senior Economist at Natixis Hong Kong office, impressed on us that the key to a successful presentation was preparedness – practicing repeatedly until you are 100% familiar with your script. “Always go back to the beginning,” she said, “even if you get stuck with your name.”

 HNC Alumnus Kelly Morris and SAIS Alumna Nora Wasserman host students at Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong

Before you start looking for a job, it is important to first know your interests and skills. Build up a skillset that would make you invaluable to an employer. What skills would make you succeed in the finance and banking sector? Some suggestions provided were having good skills in quantitative analysis, basic accounting, statistics, and corporate finance. Besides finding out where your interests lie, it is also important to research and be familiar with what kind of services are in high demand these days. Take the extra time you have outside of your studies to find this out.

Second, apart from “hard skills” such as statistical or analytical capabilities, professionals in the financial sector also value “soft skills,” including effective communication skills, empathy with your clients, skills to sell yourself and the products or services you provide, and networking skills. One of the interpersonal skills that appeared most frequently in presenters’ speeches was networking. Can you make cold calls to clients, HR, or alumni? Can you tell a concise but impressive story? Can you sell yourself to these potential employers and build up a good relationship with them? Networking is linked to the first point of preparedness as well. Researchers from JP Morgan emphasized that it is essential to do the groundwork such as extra reading of the team’s work in order to ask smart questions and engage in a productive conversation with your boss.

Networking is important even before finding a job. Be proactive and resourceful. There are numerous SAIS and HNC alumni who are already working in these industries who would be willing to lend you a helping hand. You can ask to meet with them for coffee and see if the job you want to apply for is the right fit for you. They can point you in the right direction or help to forward your resume at a critical time in the hiring process.

Last but not least, strategic thinking and the ability to look at a bigger picture. As Han Lin, Deputy General Manager of Wells Fargo Shanghai, put it in his presentation, your story will become increasingly convincing as you acquire technical, managerial and political skills successively. Here, political skills refer to strategic thinking. Most jobs introduced on the Asia trek require a global view and mastery of regional studies. This is where SAIS and HNC students’ competitive advantage lies. Many of the presenters said that, compared to other students who have just studied an MBA or finance, SAIS and HNC students have a better macroeconomic perspective on what is happening in the global economy because our education is interdisciplinary. Many presenters also suggested that students should make full use of their schools’ resources to build up capabilities required to work in the financial sector in the future.

Written by Teng Man '18 and Kris Rodulfo, MAIS ‘18

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

HNC Alumni Profile: Ellis Gyöngyös

Ellis Gyöngyös, Certificate ’14, is the founder and CEO of Know Your Token, an ICO and cryptocurrency due diligence provider and advisory firm.

Let’s start by having you talk a bit about yourself.
I went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and majored in Chinese and International Economics and immediately went to the HNC after graduating. After completing a certificate at the center, I attended a career trek arranged by Robbie Shields, HNC’s Career Advisor. Afterwards, I applied to several positions and got my first job in Hong Kong at Kroll. I worked as an analyst there for over 3 years conducting compliance and regulatory due diligence with a focus on IPO projects. My position called for a lot of Chinese research, a skill I strengthened at the HNC. Recently, I left Kroll to start my own company providing due diligence on ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) and I’ll be doing deep dive due diligence on crypto companies. This is a hot new field and I’m really excited!

Can you talk a little about your current role? How much would you say HNC prepared you for this role?
Conducting due diligence has a lot to do with research skills. I honed those skills at the HNC and I found that I did a lot more reading in Chinese at Kroll than I ever did at the HNC (if you had told me that I would someday read even more Chinese while I was at the HNC, I never would have believed you!) For some people the amount of reading at the HNC is unbelievable. I remember having to read 120 pages one night. At the Center, you develop the skill of extracting content without reading every single word in a passage. You must make sure that you can glean content from paragraphs or whole papers in a short amount of time. Thankfully I learned that at the HNC and brought those skills to into my career in due diligence where there is just a lot of content.

I also learned how to connect the dots. You can gather tons of data on urban migration in China but, to really understand what’s going on, you need to know about the factors behind it. Why are these people migrating and what effect does it have? Being able to look at something critically instead of simply recounting facts is very valuable in a job.

What courses did you take during the year?
I took a variety of classes but Adam Webb’s Rural Development class really stood out to me. One of my favorite classes, perhaps the most useful class for my first job was on Game Theory. In that class I wrote a report about salary negotiations through which I learned that it’s better to negotiate for higher pay during an interview. Most companies actually have more money to offer but they pitch low on initial offers because they want to save money. Most of the time, if you present a good case for why you need/deserve money you’ll get more. I tried it at my first job and it worked.

Another course I took was an introduction to economics course, Economic Principles. I also took a couple of anthropology courses with Hua Tao who is an amazing teacher. I took mostly Chinese courses since that is a requirement of the curriculum.

What would you say is your best memory from your time at the HNC?
During the fall break a group of friends and I went to Chengdu. We flew there and stayed in a hostel and I remember lots of fun and good food. That short trip was a great way to foster strong friendships. I also remember having good conversations at night at the Center with friends, we would walk around and talk all the time.

What was the biggest thing you learned outside the classroom?
I would say I really learned how to appreciate people no matter what their background is. There was a lot of variety between international and Chinese students, some were straight out of undergrad while others had years of full-time work experience. Additionally, not all of the international students were from the US. Some of the Chinese students were more outgoing while some wanted to study more. I learned to try and find common ground with everyone.

What would you say is the best resource available to HNC students?
The HNC provides you with a community of people that all care about bettering themselves. They want to learn, or they want to go to the gym, or they want to advance in their career - everyone wants to better themselves in some way. I think that this is a really healthy mindset and a good thing to promote and it is great to immerse yourself in that type of community.

What piece of advice would you give current and prospective HNC students?
Take a day or two to completely explore the Center. There are lots of nooks and crannies that I found throughout the year like the study room on the fifth floor with the 阳台. I didn’t know about that initially, so I usually studied in the library but having more options means that when one of them is full you still have other places to go. You should also take a day or two to explore around the Center. Walk out to 金银街 you can see all sorts of print stores and hostels. It’s just a good idea to acquaint yourself with your surroundings. As for prospective students, I would say spend more time speaking your target language before you go. I mean a lot more!

Written by Benjamin Miles, MAIS '19 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Zumba in Nanjing

Before I arrived at the Hopkins Nanjing Center, I didn’t really know what my life would look like in Nanjing outside of the graduate level classes taught in Chinese. I knew that I would live on campus with a Chinese roommate  presumably eat a mix of food from the onsite cafeteria and outside restaurants, and likely spend a bit of time exploring the city and beyond. There were things that I never expected to join in with, and chief among them was dancing to catchy Latin songs at the Nanjing University track alongside retirees, students and young kids.

A typical scene mid-dance

Allow me to explain. Via a WeChat group (because how else would anything be coordinated in China, ever) a handful of Zumba enthusiasts alerted an audience of 200 or so Nanjing-based WeChat users to when and where a gathering of Zumba dancing would take place: usually Wednesday and Sunday afternoons at the Nanjing University track (which is a convenient 5 minute walk from the Hopkins Nanjing Center). Once there, a diverse crowd assembles: retired Chinese ladies clad in tracksuits, glam young women with shiny ponytails, a few athletic young men, the odd bumbling father and an assortment of spectators usually toting babies and toddlers swaddled in thick puffer jackets, regardless of the weather. The large boom box style speaker would be rolled up, Latin beats blasting. The young Zumba devotees with tens of dances memorized would begin trotting through the fast-paced shimmies, lunges, hip swings and claps that form a typical Zumba song. Between songs, dancers would have just enough time to exchange pleasantries, complain about the cold or the heat, or laughingly despair at their tiredness from keeping up with the speedy dance routines.

Zumba was a great experience for many reasons: it was an aerobic workout (you’ll never forget your first time – way more jumping and leaping than you’d ever experience in an ordinary two-hour period), a source of fun and enjoyment and a great opportunity to engage in the wider community. My HNC friends and I used to go out for dinner regularly with our Zumba friends following the sessions. Our dinners at nearby Nanjing restaurants provided opportunities for fun conversations in Chinese, new dishes to try and friendships formed. When we went to our final Zumba session, we were granted the honor of dancing on the upper platform which was where the Zumba leaders stood. We took a lot of photos, hugged a lot of dear friends, cried a little and went out for a fantastic final meal.

A group photo from our last session

I tell the story of Zumba not to encourage you to join it (though any new HNC students are eagerly urged to do so, and please say hi from me to the Zumba regulars!) but to remind students of the exciting possibilities that await them in the outer Nanjing community. Such activities for my fellow classmates during my time included singing in church choirs, playing in women’s rugby teams and volunteering in the community. At the start of the semester Co-Director Davies urged us to get to know Nanjing over the course of the year, and of course, a vitally important part of a city is its people. I was delighted to have the chance to form friendships with some wonderful Nanjing dwellers through my Zumba dancing, and I hope my experience can be a reminder of the very unexpected but marvelous things that can be (literally) just around the corner during your time at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

Written by Anna Woods, Certificate/SAIS MA '18

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

HNC Alumni Profile: Sean Linkletter

Sean Linkletter is a senior analyst at JLL, an American commercial real estate firm, in Shanghai. He graduated with a Certificate from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in 2015.
Let’s start by having you talk a bit about yourself. 
I spent my youth in Santa Cruz, California and then studied finance and Chinese at the University of South Carolina. I had always had a fascination with the Chinese language and culture, as I grew up in California near large Chinese communities. I decided to study Chinese to satisfy the language requirement in college and did a program at Tsinghua University in Beijing my junior year. After graduating, I wanted to work in finance and real estate in the US – ideally for a REIT (real estate investment trust) but my work experience and limited industry connections did not put me in a strong position after school. Additionally, Chinese investment in the US real estate market was quite limited at the time, so it would have been hard to utilize my language skills.

Instead, I decided to spend a year completing the certificate program at the HNC, which really suited my professional needs and gave me the opportunity to connect with the real estate industry in China. I had heard that Robbie Shields’ career services advising was one of HNC’s biggest assets – and it lived up to the hype! I met with Robbie Shields regularly and participated in the Asia Trek – where we met with senior people and former alumni at top international financial intuitions in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Through the connections I made during my time at the HNC, I was able to land a job at JLL in the summer of 2015.

Can you talk a little about your current role? How much would you say HNC prepared you for this role?
My role at JLL focuses on property market analysis in China. Essentially, I research commercial property trends and provide data forecasts to institutional investors and I have worked in both Tianjin and Shanghai. During my time in Tianjin, I helped draft the AmCham Annual White Paper for the North China Chapter, outlining recommendations for both the American and Chinese governments on how to improve business relations in the real estate sector. I also made legal suggestions to improve investment conditions, such as eliminating zoning restrictions and barriers to foreign investment and improving the consistency of taxation.

The HNC helped me cultivate a macro-economic perspective on China, such as how interest rate rises in the US affect the stability of the RMB or how China’s housing privatization of the late 1990s affects consumption today. It was also interesting that the time in which I took Professor Armstrong-Taylor’s Financial Crises course coincided with the 2015 bubble in Chinese stock market. We were all scratching our heads at the market’s huge run up at the time; a few months later, it collapsed.

What courses did you take at the HNC?
I took a number of economics courses like Comparative Economics, Financial Crises, and Corporate Finance. I also took Comparative Law and Money, Banking, and Financial Institutions. In Professor Kurien’s class, I wrote a paper on deposit insurance in China and gave a presentation on the outlook of China’s housing market. I also took a number of classes in Chinese, including Econometrics, Chinese Investment Law, and Energy and the Environment. The Chinese Econometrics course was particularly useful because I learned how to use R statistical modeling and regression analysis, which directly benefited my job at JLL.

Did you have a Chinese roommate?
Yeah, I did. He was from Lanzhou in Gansu. It was fun having him as my roommate. We had a lot of good discussions, everything from the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement to the Chinese concepts of 面子 and 中庸, to the social pressure of buying a house to court a significant other. We set ground rules about language, alternating days between English and Chinese, which proved valuable for learning colloquial phrases. Having a Chinese roommate was also mutually beneficial when it came to writing papers or preparing presentations in our second languages.

What would you say is your best memory from your time at the HNC?
My best memory was a trip we took over 春节. Three friends from the HNC and another student from 花苑 right next door and I took a month and a half adventure from Hanoi to Rajastan in India. I also look fondly over the memories in the lounge playing Settlers of Catan or Super Smash Bros.

From a more academic perspective, I really enjoyed our frequent debates, in which a professor and students would discuss hot-button issues like territorial claims in the South China Sea and the HK Umbrella Movement. It was refreshing to hear the Chinese and Western perspectives on each issue and to be able to share these open academic discussions.

What would you say was your biggest challenge while at the HNC?
I would say writing in Chinese was definitely a challenge. I didn’t write a thesis but writing some of the essays was really challenging. When I write it generally comes off as 口语. I would have to write 3-to-4 page essays in Chinese, which was difficult. Luckily, I had much support from the professors and my roommate.

What would you say is the best resource available to HNC students?
Everyone says career services, so I’ll say something else. The library was fantastic. There were a lot of books even for my own personal interests. All the software you could want is available. The professors are really invaluable, I still contact them on a regular basis and they are always available for questions related to their expertise or career advice. The new gym equipment was great too, and the lounge with all the games. There are just so many great resources at HNC, but the career counseling and and treks were the best part.

Would you say graduates of the HNC have a certain thing in common aside from their language?

Besides the language skills, HNC students are very articulate and academically inclined. HNC students are really good at looking at issues from a wide perspective, taking time to consider the cultural, political, and economic factors.

What piece of advice would you give current HNC students?
Use all the resources that HNC has to offer. Talk to as many of the faculty as you can. Go outside of the neighborhood鼓楼 bubble, and take a trip to the development zone. Go south to 河西新区 and 江宁. Get a feel for China, go out and explore, there’s a lot to gain from seeing what else is out there off of the 上海路 and 北京路intersection. Travel to other cities and meet people in your desired industry. It’s as simple as asking people for coffee and 30 minutes of their time. People are generally willing to help since everyone’s been in a university grad’s shoes at some point.

Written by Benjamin Miles, MAIS '19