Alumni Spotlight: Olivia Haan

I am a second-year college student from Minnesota studying biomedical and neuroscience. I love traveling whenever I get the chance and love trying to learn the language of the place I'm going!

Why did you choose this program?

This program was not on my radar at first, but the more I looked into it, the more excited and fascinated I got about China. It was an incredible itinerary and covered all the big spots, but also had smaller excursions, which were some of my favorite. This program excited me and was something that I had never thought about doing, so I figured why not go for it!

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

They had the whole itinerary planned out, food and rooms covered, and they had a guide to take us around. We did have some free time throughout the trip when we could go to markets, explore the city or just hang out. Most TFT trips allow you to sign up and enjoy the trip. There is not much planning involved on your part.

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

This trip, in m opinion, is one of the most tiring trips by the end, but that is because of all the amazing things you get to do. China is a big country, so there are going to be long train rides or bus rides to get places and you might have to wake up early in the morning, but its all worth it once you get to feed and care for pandas! By the end of the 17 days, I was definitely ready to sleep on the plane the whole way back. but also I could've stayed in China for 2 more weeks. It was one of my favorite places I've ever gone to.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

It is hard to say because every day is different. Most days are waking up early, as you would for school, get breakfast and head out. We do something fun in the morning like visit the world's largest Buddha, grab some lunch, and then head out into the afternoon to see a temple and explore a market before getting dinner and relaxing at the hotel.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My greatest fear going into this trip was the size of the city and having to navigate a group through some of the largest cities in the world. I quickly learned how to keep the group together and when to be serious with them. There were times when we had to be together and we were squished in a line trying to get on our train. I am now much more comfortable keeping eyes on the group in the busy cities.

What was your favorite part about this trip?

My favorite day from the trip was going to the Great Wall of China. It was one of the more touristy things we did, but it was impossible to pass up. It was incredible to see and it is unimaginable to think that I was there, but my favorite parts were when we were on the wall climbing up the towers, making funny videos, and eventually hiking to each beacon tower.