Alumni Spotlight: Brian Murdock


Why did you decide to study abroad with Academic Explorers in Beijing?

I chose to study with academic explorers because I wasn’t ready to graduate college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, so I opted to take a gap year and explore my interests in China and improve my Chinese language skills. I was also recommended Academic Explorers through Holly Bull and the Center for Interim Programs. Without her guidance, I would not have discovered AE.

What made studying abroad a unique and special experience?

What made this experience unique and special is that I was simultaneously independent and a part of a structured program. The program was very challenging mentally and physically and forced me to breach comfort zones that had been well established.

This opened my perspective and significantly changed my outlook. It also made me feel accomplished, as I achieved something very few others can – like boot camp except more enjoyable (it’s hard to describe). My review of the program goes into more detail.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Personally, the program helped me craft my life philosophy. I approach things with a certain objective and attitude every day; this is the most important gift I received through participating in this program.

AE also has had a huge impact on my future and career path as I am now in China, and primarily due to the fact that AE helped elevate my Chinese to a level that allows me to live and work in China. The program did not necessarily connect me with my employer or network me with anyone directly, but the language skills and lifestyle education can put you in a position to find a life in China after AE.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been the most studious person and I don’t think that would change no matter what anyone can do or say. But I do believe there are good teachers and bad teachers and it would be impossible not to take away an incredible education and experience from AE.