Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Day in the Life of a MAIS Student

MAIS student Natalie Sammarco had a busy day yesterday!  Read about her experiences in and out of the classroom on March 12, 2013:

"I’m an early riser, myself. I got into that habit working as a schoolteacher, so that’s how I start my day. I wake up between 7-8am and go downstairs to get coffee from the HNC coffee shop (not exactly Starbucks, but they have fresh coffee from 7:30am-1pm, M-F). This comes in real handy when you’re in a pinch before class. Plus, it’s in the same building as our dorms!

After coffee, I work on finding sources for my thesis and do some reading for my 1pm class. At 10:45am, I meet 8 friends for a lunch at the local Indian restaurant. Yes, 11am is early for lunch but we have invited a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) from the US Consulate in Shanghai to join us. Since he would be speaking at the Center from 12-1pm, it was better to have an earlier lunch.

We talked to the FSO about his job, about his life, about his history in China, and about his time at the Center. As a Center alum, we felt more connected to him and I think he felt more connected to us. I find that Center graduates are all doing great things now, and this FSO was just one of five Center alums working in the Shanghai Consulate now.

After lunch, I walked over and attended the FSO talk on what it means to work for the US government. He went over many topics that he talked about at lunch but offered even more advice for those interested in applying for a government position. As this talk ended, I headed to Economics of Globalization, my only class in English, from 1-2:30pm.

The class after Econ is History and Philosophy of Law in China, for another 1.5 hour class block. In this particular class, we talked about the components of the Chinese characters that make up law and punishment language in China. Through this analysis, it was easy to see the connection between each individual stroke in the characters and the meaning of the entire word. This is always helpful in both language acquisition and cultural understanding.

I get a couple hours of break after this class, because I have a voluntary seminar at night. In the meantime, I go to the small bakery across the street to share a cream puff with two of my classmates (one, Chinese; one, American). From here, I grab dinner-to-go and head back to the Center to read the news and enjoy some relaxation time.

The seminar from 7-8pm is on Personal Finance. This is conducted by one of our professors here, who has graciously given up (another) segment of his time to hold this repeat session on how to invest one’s money and save for retirement. I missed the first session because it was held last weekend and I was in Shanghai, visiting friends. Ten of us listened to his talk, which, for someone who doesn’t claim economics as a great strength (me), was very clear. This professor stayed after to answer all of our questions and we had a great conversation.

At this point, the day has been quite full and I find myself pretty tired. I called my bank to sort out some things (since business hours are from 9pm-4am China time, nighttime is the only time to call), and go down to the lounge to hang out. Friends and I talk for a bit, then I head downstairs to play 15 minutes of piano in the music room.

At 10:45pm I return to my room to sleep. Although not everyone has this schedule, or keeps the same hours I do, I find that everyone has work to do at some point every day. It’s a routine we’ve all become accustomed to, and I’m just thankful that I have the opportunity to not only hear such great speakers, but also share a meal with them in a more-casual way. Also, I’m thankful that a professor is so dedicated to us that, when we asked for a repeat session, he was able to offer it on a weeknight when he could have been doing anything else. through these experiences, I think that HNC is, indeed, a special place to be."