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Hello fellow Trojans! My name is Chelsea Toczauer, and I am a student at USC double majoring in East Asian Culture and Literature and International Relations, and minoring in Slavic Language and Literatures.  With USC programs I’ve been bouncing around the map-from Russia (for Russian studies and cultural research) to Washington DC (for nuclear research and then two internships-both brought on thanks to my research experience in DC for school with my professor).  I also just spent Fall 2012 (and am extending to study in Spring 2013) at Peking University in Beijing, China to study Chinese.

Studying at Peking University has been a challenge so far, but completely worth it.  Food and everyday necessities proved to be the first obstacle- I do love noodles and baozi (a type of Chinese dumpling), but two weeks of them for every meal can be a tad redundant, and toilet paper is an essential to keep on hand at all times in China since its BYOR (bring your own roll) in most places you’ll go (also, be ready to build your leg muscles with the Asian toilets they have).  When finding that one great hole in the wall restaurant down the sketchy alleyway proves a fruitful quest or locating an American café for studying (your new oasis) in Wudaokou, you can’t help but appreciate the everyday adventures you’ll have.  Then there are the tests, which put American tests to shame-remember, this is China, and they take academics seriously.  You really do learn a lot though, and your teachers are really committed to you learning the language successfully. The best part of China though is when you finally make Chinese friends to join you in your adventures, help you practice your Chinese, and just be your friend.  I’ve made a few close Chinese friends in Beijing who have shown me the culture of Chinese relationships (called guanxi-relationships are the underlying structure to all relations, business and friendships in China) and are always there to help me whether it’s with homework or day-to-day things.  They also know the best places to go karaoke on birthdays!

USC really has provided great opportunities for me to extend my studies abroad and develop myself globally.  Even at home in California, many of my USC friends are international students.  In addition to extending itself globally, USC has a global network of alumni, which I myself have made use of through talking to my professors and meeting their old students abroad.  You can even run into USC alum out of sheer luck as I did once in Beijing when celebrating Thanksgiving at an American-style café.  USC really is a family.  It has done a superb job building itself as an international school, and I can’t emphasize how important it is to take advantage of everything it has to offer-this facet being study abroad!  You’ll never be alone with family everywhere, and you have so much to learn simply from the experience of travel.  I promise you, it will make a positive difference in your life, whether in academic, career, or personal growth.  So go ahead, what are you waiting for?  Choose your adventure!