December 17, 2004
If ECE sophomore Brian Loo told you he stayed in the dorms this summer, you might think he meant Morewood or Donner. But this world traveler went quite a distance from Pittsburgh; because his goal is to one day put his ECE degree to work in a Chinese speaking environment, he lived on campus at the Shanghai International Studies University (SISU). Enrolling in an eight week study abroad program, he learned the language with 13 other Carnegie Mellon students and went on a side trip to Inner Mongolia. Let's tag along as he talks about his visit:
I'm from Malaysia, where I spent the first nine years of school, before finishing high school in Australia.
I was interested in going to China, and checked through the CMU website for exchanges or programs. The program available from CMU was at a university in Shanghai where one of our professors (Yueming Yu in Modern Languages) used to teach before moving to CMU.
Going to China was a good way to work on my Chinese and to see the growing phenomenon which is Shanghai. It was also really fun trying all the different foods and the cheap shopping. My Chinese got better, and sometimes I felt like could blend in with the locals. It was a good way to spend a summer; rather than just lazing at home, going abroad kept me active.
Going abroad you get to experience the whole thing; unlike watching a show on the Discovery Channel, you can experience all the tastes and smells. And going to a foreign place to learn a language is probably the best way to learn. Being able to meet people from Shanghai might be useful if I plan on going back, and it was also a good way to see what it would be like to live and work there.
Despite our hugely connected world, it sometimes seems like most people haven't been to or seen many places, so I would go at any chance, just to see what the rest of the world is like and enjoy all there is to enjoy.
It's always tempting to speak in English at first, as it takes some time to get used to thinking in Chinese. And it is also a challenge to realize that you're in a totally different place, and to not expect too much (such as cars stopping for you when you want to cross a street).
It was great to get to know the other Carnegie Mellon students who were also on the trip. As I hadn't met them before arriving in China, it was interesting meeting them in a very different environment!
There are many programs available through CMU, but if you're just interested in going to a certain place, a little research on that place will show you plenty of ways to get there. Going abroad is not always just fun and eye opening—it can also sometimes seem daunting and scary—just take the good with the bad.
Tennis, badminton, and table tennis.
Possibly continue on in CMU's Integrated M.S./B.S. Degree (IMB) program.
A school trip to a Confucian temple. From left to right: Brian stands with sophomore Alex Chang from Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and junior Vickie Chiang, who is majoring in Economics and History.
Brian’s friend took an action shot of him running in the desert during a week off. They are in China, bordering Mongolia (called Inner Mongolia).
In this second desert photo, you can see the sand dunes behind Brian.