Alumni Spotlight: Laura Ashley Bate


Laura's an avid traveler who wants to live in China one day. She's always saving up for her next big adventure to some distant land and is ready for whatever challenges the world has to offer.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because CET Harbin is the perfect place to learn the Chinese language. In Harbin, English-speaking foreigners are few, the Harbin accent has hardly any local dialect, so it is as standard Mandarin as one can get. This means that once you leave the classroom, the Chinese you will hear on the streets will be the same Chinese you learned in class.

It's also amazing to see the sites of China (daily weekend excursions organized by CET) while at the same time being able to study Chinese in an intensive classroom setting.

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

CET had a close relationship with my home campus and a representative of CET met with me to go over what I would expect in Harbin.

My University Global Studies program and CET were extremely helpful in helping me in pre-departure and post-departure. They assisted me in finding programs that fit my course of studies, finding scholarships (such as one of CET's many scholarships) and keeping me updated on due dates.

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

Make sure to go to every excursion provided. CET provides many free or low-cost cultural activities, including travel to a Siberian Tiger Park (where you can feed up-close tigers), watching Chinese movies at a movie theater, visiting the old Jewish district of Harbin, visiting an ancient Buddhist Monastery, and traveling a weekend to a new city to hike a mountain.

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

During the weekdays, classes start as early as 9am and end as late as 5pm. Every class is usually about two hours long and only Chinese is spoken. There are also 15 minute breaks after each hour of class time. There is a study lounge students often go to where they can eat snacks or rest during their 15 minute breaks. On the weekends, CET always organizes an activity for every one to go on (always optional) such as to visit Harbin's Russian Village on Sun Island and many others.

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 biggest fear was not being able to speak to others during the course of the program. Since CET strictly enforces a language pledge, my classmates and I could not speak English with each other which I was afraid would make communication very hard. But it turns out not at all!

During the course of the program, being forced to speak Chinese made for some of the funniest charades and bonding experiences I've ever had with my fellow classmates. While our Chinese improved by leaps and bounds, we also learned how to communicate with each other using elementary language and through the art of charades!