Alumni Spotlight: Sean O'Connor


Sean​ O'Connor, a graduate of Fordham University, spent his entire Junior year studying at the Beijing Center in 2010-2011. After graduating he worked in Sri Lanka as a Fulbright Scholar. You can find him on twitter @aseoconnor.

Why did you decide to study abroad with Loyola University Chicago?

The Beijing Center made is really easy for me to study abroad. Since my university has a relationship with the program I was able to spend two semesters abroad and still graduate on time.

I was drawn to the program for its mix of travel and academics. I didn't want to do a typical European study abroad; I knew that living in China would push me outside of my comfort zone and force me to grow as a person.

Describe your most meaningful souvenir and why you love it?

The item I most frequently return to from my time is China is a copy of 1984 that I bought from an illegal book vendor in Beijing. Reading a banned book in an authoritarian country was an odd experience, ​and I connected with Orwell on a whole new level after exploring his works in this context.

Describe your program socially and academically.

I pushed myself academically while studying abroad. I sought out the more rigorous classes ​the Beijing Center had to offer, and I am glad I did. Studying China while living in Beijing was an extraordinary opportunity, one that I will forever be grateful for. I made a few amazing friendships with my classmates, and I'm lucky to keep in touch with the to this day.

Do you think your program changed you as a person?

What would be the point of living if we didn't let life change us? I don't think anyone could live in a foreign country for several months and not be changed. Living in China shaped my perspective on the world, and this new outlook affects my life on a daily basis.

What is one piece of advice you'd give future Loyola University Chicago students?

Keep a blog! While studying abroad I used my blog to keep my friends and family up to date with where I was and what I was learning. Since I've returned it has become a useful tool in interviews and to look and reflect upon my time abroad.