Economics : Inside-View & Graduation in China
CU Denver Semester in Beijing Student Jacob Clark
With a strong desire for a deeper understanding of world economic markets and the end goal of an economics degree in sight, University of Colorado Denver student Jacob Clark boarded a plane two years ago and headed for China. The result was not only that of reaching graduation, but also of being able to take the commencement walk at as part of CU Denver’s Semester in Beijing program in China.
“I felt that immersing myself within the world’s fastest developing economy would allow me to gain a more complete understanding of what economic growth means to the people who are experiencing it,” explained Clark
Thinking like a true economist, Clark’s choice to get an insider-view of the “record-breaking economic growth” in China through the Semester in Beijing program brought Clark a sense of accomplishment in multiple ways: a first-hand knowledge of Chinese culture, a solid handle on the challenging Mandarin language (a program requirement), and a new diploma garnished with a graduation cap and gown in China. Plus family support from his parents, who flew to the country to proudly watch their son’s graduation.
Looking back on his four semesters in the program, Clark said, “I really could write a small book on the ways I’ve changed as a student and as a young professional, as well as how I’ve grown as a person.”
During his studies in China, Clark was able to hone in on his academic skills and interests, taking a wide range of electives and economic-based courses. Significantly helpful for Clark was gaining insight into the contrasting economic concepts of China and the United States. He learned that each economic environment has to be addressed differently, and that a grasp on the cultural aspects of China are crucial to understanding these differing systems. He feels that now having an understanding of Mandarin will add to his professional, marketable skill set in the international world of economics.
“I feel more confident in my ability to bridge cultures and bring people together within both my personal and professional lives.”
Studying abroad doesn’t mean you are always “stuck in a classroom”; utilizing time off to travel is just as important to a student’s time abroad. Clark’s diverse range of adventures around China included travels with Chinese classmates as well as with other CU Denver students. He described how he and his friends toured around the country “from the super-city of Shanghai, to a sunny rural mountain range near Lijiang, and then to the world’s largest frozen festival (the amazing, world-renowned International Ice Festival in Harbin).” Clark felt that exploring different regions of China gave him an invaluable perspective into the expansive diversity of the country.
Now that he has had time to reflect on his achievements abroad, Clark’s process of exploring professional career avenues has only increased and evolved, especially because his two years spent in China opened up a new world of possibilities. He explained, “My time in China has taught me life-long lessons about what I value in a career and how I can be valuable to others.” He has a strong desire to spend time working in Asia to culturally bridge American and Chinese businesses. Another interest is to participate in the Peace Corps with the goal of working with developmental projects, focusing on community and economic issues in underdeveloped regions of the world.
Clark advises every undergraduate student to consider studying abroad:
“Traveling is the best type of education. There will never be a better time to study abroad than when you are a student. Right now, learning is your full-time job. The experience will be something that you will take with you for the rest of your life, whether it be as a career-changing experience or a valuable memory with new friends and adventure.”