To say that Qi (Linda) Geng is busy is an understatement. She is the president of GMSA (Globally Minded Student Association), an International Student Ambassador and Tour Guide, and Box Office student assistant who constantly attends on-campus events, not to mention being a sophomore majoring in economics.
Even with these commitments, Geng has found time and opportunities to study abroad, which can sometimes be a challenge for international students.
Geng is an international student from Beijing, China. She found out about St. Thomas from the director of international education, Mr. He, at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. He is a close family friend who told Geng about their “sister school” in the United States.
“Uncle He told me St. Thomas was a great school that was the best place to study. He also said, ‘if you want to experience American culture, go to Minnesota.’ So, after some research about class sizes and student-professor relationships, I decided to come to St. Thomas.”
Her experience in Minnesota began during fall 2008 at the ELS Language Center in St. Paul. After three months there, she started at St. Thomas in spring 2009. Less than a year later, Geng began her study aboard experience through St. Thomas in Hawaii during J-Term 2010, studying Easter and Western Philosophy.
“I was worried about many things regarding the trip: the intensity of a J-Term course, difficulty of philosophy, being the only international student, possible isolation from the rest of the group, and being away from both my Chinese and UST families. Thankfully, I had support from my friends and Professor Stoltz, who told me I could do it. I also felt prepared from my experiences with on-campus clubs, which developed my teamwork skills and built my self reliance,” Geng said.
The course was intense, but Geng made many memories, developed a new love of the outdoors, and met her best friend.
After her Hawaiian experience, Geng knew she had to study abroad again. This past summer, Geng studied in England at the London School of Economics (LSE). Before she could begin her summer semester, she had to return to China to get a United Kingdom visa.
“I was worried about getting the UK visa, but happy to go home for a month. After getting the visa, I was worried about not knowing anyone in London. But, once I got there, I loved it," Geng said. "London is a beautiful city that combines cosmopolitan and classical with international. I was able to meet other Chinese students studying at LSE, who I developed great friendships with. Classes were difficult, but I now know how to push myself to work harder in school.”
After finishing her studies in London, Geng had to return to China again to renew her visa for the United States. Even with the extensive travel on multiple continents, her experiences and new outlook on her education were well worth it.
Geng highly recommends study abroad to all St. Thomas students: “If you get the chance, go out and explore the world. It is a challenging and fun way to gain self-confidence and learn more about your own strengths and weaknesses. The world is becoming more intertwined, so it is important to have global experiences. If you do study abroad, remember that no matter how far away you are from home, do not forget the reason why you made the choice to study abroad.”
Already plotting her next trip, Geng has applied for a J-Term 2011 course in India and is thinking about possibly studying for a full semester in France or Australia. After completing her undergraduate degree, Geng would like to go to graduate school in the United States.
Information about study abroad programs offered at St. Thomas are available on the Study Abroad website, or call (651) 962-6450, or stop by the International Education Center.