Alumni Spotlight: Caitlin Bailey

Caitlin Bailey is a senior at Wellesley College majoring in East Asian Studies with a minor in Economics. At Wellesley, she is a two season varsity athlete on the Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field teams. When she's not running, she's probably drinking tea and reading about Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Why did you pick this program?

A young girl posing for a picture.

I chose to study with CET at the intensive Mandarin language campus because I wanted a fully immersive language experience that would force me to constantly be developing my language skills.

Looking back, I am so grateful to have made this decision. After about a month, I was thinking and dreaming in Chinese. Daily interactions in Mandarin became easy for me. And having a Chinese roommate was not only an invaluable resource, it was a ton of fun!

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

I always encourage friends to take advantage of study abroad opportunities available to them. I believe that studying abroad is an irreplaceable experience in the process of growing and maturing during college. I learned so much about myself, including the limits of my comfort zone.

Sometimes, I really didn't want to eat the strange thing that was being offered to me on a stick, and that's okay. Other times, I was ready for the adventure! I learned how to be safe and independent in one of the largest cities in the world.

If I can ride the jam packed subways of Beijing and navigate only in Mandarin, I am confident I can go anywhere. I even discovered that making friends in a foreign language is a lot more difficult and maybe more rewarding in some ways than in a native language.

What is your favorite story about to tell about your time abroad?

My roommate (a local university student) thought I was really cool when she first met me. I had straight across bangs at the time and she went out within the first couple weeks of meeting me and had her hair cut to look like mine.

She also bought converse sneakers shortly after I arrived wearing my own beat-up chucks. And I knew it was no coincidence when she asked me to cut up her old t-shirts to look like my own DIY workout tank tops.

Beautiful Scenery

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Don't be afraid to try new things and step outside of your comfort zone. But at the same time, respect yourself and your limits. There were days when my American friends and I would order pizza and watch Netflix together.

It was comforting and cozy to experience something so familiar in the midst of the often overwhelming hustle and bustle of Beijing. Sometimes, you need a rest from going, going, going all the time. You don't always need to be studying, exploring the city, or interacting with locals to have a meaningful experience abroad. Self care is key!