Trinity in Shanghai Study Away Global Ambassador Reminisces About Time in China

Ryan A. Miller ’17 Says the Challenging Program Inspired a Possible Senior Thesis Topic

​Hartford, Connecticut, June 20, 2016 – Ryan A. Miller ’17, a double major in political science and Chinese language and culture, spent the fall 2015 semester studying in Shanghai, China, through the Trinity in Shanghai Study Away program. Miller will be the Student Government Association president for the 2016-2017 academic year. The rising senior from Massachusetts is Trinity College’s Global Ambassador for Shanghai, and he shares some of his most memorable experiences below:

Trinity in Shanghai Study Away Global AmbassadorWhat attracted you to the Trinity in Shanghai program?

Many of my classes at Trinity introduced comparative Asian politics and Mandarin language that stirred my interest and curiosity in the study of the region. The Trinity in Shanghai program fit what I was looking for both socially and academically, with adventure in a totally new culture and intriguing courses relevant to my study at Trinity.

What classes did you take while abroad, and how did they fit in with your course of study in Hartford?

I was enrolled in Fudan University, a top-ranked university with thousands of undergraduate students. Courses were less discussion based, larger in size, and readings were through the lens of Chinese scholars that provided me with an outlook on world events and politics that I was unfamiliar with. Fudan is also an international university, which allowed me to converse with classmates from China, greater Asia, and Europe. These conversations opened up my understanding on the U.S.’s reputation with other countries, sparking an interest in identity and political attitudes – a topic I am now considering for my senior thesis.

Trinity in Shanghai Study Away Global AmbassadorWhat tips do you have for overcoming the language barrier?

The longer I studied Chinese, the more I realized how much there is left to learn. The tones and characters are so different from native English that the best tactic is to simply immerse yourself. I used every opportunity to practice speaking the language – talking with everyone from classmates to street vendors to new friends on the metro. The locals were very encouraging and glad to see foreigners like myself trying to learn the language, which made putting myself out there much easier.

What was your favorite trip outside of Shanghai?

One of our excursions was a day-trip to Suzhou – a city in a neighboring province. We walked through a silk factory where we saw every step of the production of silk scarves and garments, from silk worms to stretching to color dying. We also talked with some of the workers in the factory about their positions and respective roles.

Did you participate in an internship while abroad?

Yes, I interned with a Chinese I-Bank right on the Bund. Most of my work involved editing English newsletters and press releases. I also had the opportunity to conduct research on Chinese foreign investment in U.S. markets. My best advice for someone interning abroad is to ask questions about the work culture; I learned so much from my coworkers.

Trinity in Shanghai Study Away Global AmbassadorHow did your semester in Shanghai change your perspective?

I met so many students and friends from all over and each one had different interests, opinions, goals, and outlooks on the world. It was humbling to have my views both received and challenged. I learned so much from my conversations with others and I have a new drive to understand cultures both in an academic sense and for future career plans.

What do you miss the most about your host country?

I miss the language. Everyone at the university and some Shanghainese spoke English, but it was still not the language used on streets or in daily life.

What did you miss most about Trinity in Hartford while you were away?

I missed the professors! It is natural to meet with professors outside of the classroom to talk about anything from in-class topics to school events. Trinity professors are approachable and encouraging, which is something I now fully appreciate after studying abroad in a school that had a very different academic climate.

Tell us about your Study Away experience in no more than five words.

Humbling experience, delicious peanut jiaozi.

For more information from the Office of Study Away at Trinity College, please click here.