Back to SummaryLucy Xiao - Student Advisor Profile
MAJOR: Political Science
My senior year of high school, I knew I wanted to study abroad in college, and I knew I wanted to do so in China. When I found out about Stanford’s well-established program at China’s most prestigious university, Stanford immediately became my top choice. My quarter abroad last year did not disappoint.
My previous experience with China is different from many who choose this overseas program. Both of my parents are from China, and I’ve taken several family vacations there. I’ve traveled throughout China, seen its most famous tourist attractions, eaten many different types of Chinese cuisine. But actually living abroad—spending several months in one place—was a completely new type of experience for me. Since I had only stayed in Beijing for short periods of time before, sightseeing in Beijing was still an integral part of my study abroad experience. The most meaningful part of studying abroad for me, however, was the opportunity to learn about China on a more intimate level and getting to know the country from the inside. Despite my Chinese heritage, my formal learning about China has always been within a Western framework, so I’ve always been very aware of my American bias when it comes to processing information about Chinese events and politics. When studying abroad in China,
however, I was able to really interact with native Chinese people, and thus learn about China from a more grassroots approach. I chatted with Beijing students, taxi drivers, and shop assistants about their experiences growing up in China, their views on the communist government, their reactions to world events. Our professors at Peking University had a distinctly Chinese teaching style and worldview, and learning about Chinese subjects from their perspective was fascinating and eye-opening. I had always considered working in China after graduation, and my quarter abroad there absolutely solidified that desire. It also made me realize that my chances for success in working in China have multiplied several-fold because of the insight I gained into modern Chinese culture and the Chinese psyche while studying in Bejing. It seems cliché to say, but the opportunity to study abroad while at Stanford really is the opportunity of a lifetime, particularly in Beijing at a time when China is the newest hotspot for economic activity and China’s role in the international sphere is expanding.
Beijing, as both the cultural and political center of China, is the perfect place to witness this rapid change with its intriguing juxtaposition of the traditional and the modern. Standing outside the ancient palatial Forbidden City, you can see skyscrapers housing the world’s most prestigious multinational corporations rising behind the monuments to communist rule in Tiananmen Square. My quarter abroad was, hands down, the most rewarding in my Stanford career; I came back from this unique city with incredible memories and experiences that will stay with me forever, and I have no doubt in my mind that the other students in my program feel the same way.