Benedictine University students go back to school… in China

September 6, 2013

Lisle, Illinois ~ New class schedules and routines to get used to, what clothes to wear and how to find your way around campus are some of the typical things students think about on the eve of the first day of school.

But for Benedictine University students Stephanie Rodriguez and Rebecca Trettenero, there’s a lot more to consider. They will be attending classes in China as part of a study abroad experience.

What do you pack for a semester or a year abroad? How will you get around in a foreign land? Will you have everything you need? Will you be able to effectively communicate with others?

“It feels like I am going back to school, of course, but everything will be different, unexpected and exciting,” Trettenero said. “I am excited to see where I will live and for the experiences I will have while I am in China. I know I will meet many amazing people there and am ready to learn as much as I can.”

Fortunately, affording the trip won’t be a problem for Trettenero, a sophomore Spanish major from Aurora, and Rodriguez, an International Business and Economics graduate from Addison who is pursuing a Master of Business Administration.

The two students were awarded full scholarships through the Chinese Government Scholarship Program to study Chinese language and culture at two prestigious Chinese Universities. The scholarships cover tuition, lodging, medical insurance, living allowances and learning materials.

Trettenero and Rodriguez are representative of an increasing number of American college students who see the value of studying a language spoken by one-fifth of the world’s population and desire to further their education and career marketability by visiting the country with the world’s second largest economy.

Benedictine University continues to offer students new pathways for pursuing and developing their understanding of Chinese language and culture. Benedictine has formed several partnerships with Chinese universities, allowing students a wide range of study abroad options. This fall, the University will begin offering a minor in Chinese Language (Mandarin) with an option for a Chinese Culture track.

This is the fourth consecutive year Benedictine students have been awarded full scholarships to study in China, and is another example of the University’s commitment to providing diverse and affordable study abroad opportunities for its students, said Marc Davidson, assistant director of Study Abroad and Exchange Programs.

“We are very excited to continue to offer students these opportunities through the Chinese Government Scholarship Program,” Davidson said. “It has made accessing China much easier and helps increase the overall cultural understanding of China among students.”

Trettenero is attending Zhejiang University, located in the historic and scenic garden city of Hangzhou, for a full academic year. Rodriguez is spending the fall semester at Shanghai International Studies University, located in Shanghai, China’s largest city and the country’s booming financial and commercial center.

Trettenero’s study abroad experience will allow her to immerse herself in the language and culture of China. It will also be her first trip outside of the United States.

“I have always wanted to travel to China to learn the language and better understand life there and the people,” Trettenero said. “Studying the Chinese language in China will have a great effect on my learning experience. It will allow me to go beyond learning the language. I will be able to apply it with native speakers every day.”

Rodriguez, who is fluent in Spanish and English and studied French for five years, wants to add Chinese to her language quiver and gain additional knowledge about a country that greatly influences the United States.

“Globalization has caused every country to be interdependent, and the interdependence between China and the United States is significant,” Rodriguez said. “I want to be part of that influence. I plan on learning as much Mandarin as possible and applying it in my future career.”

The Chinese Government Scholarship Program was established by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China in accordance with exchange agreements reached between the Chinese government and other countries, organizations and educational institutions to provide scholarships to international students and scholars.

“We are very grateful for the generous support of the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Chicago and the significant investment the Chinese government has made in education,” said Elsie Yuan, executive director of the Office of International Programs and Services at Benedictine. “Study abroad provides many benefits for students such as learning a new language, making new friends, gaining new perspectives and embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. The opportunity for our students to study in China creates close ties among students and further enhances their understanding of people from different cultures.”  

Students selected for the scholarships must have a 3.0 GPA, have taken a minimum of two Chinese language courses and completed an application and essay explaining why they want to study in China.

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Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 55 undergraduate majors and 17 graduate and four doctoral programs. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country’s fastest-growing campuses between 2000-2010 in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of private nonprofit research institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among “America’s Top Colleges” for the third consecutive year in 2013. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area in 2013.

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