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Far East Expo

by Samantha Williams

samantha williams

Studying abroad in Shanghai, China during the fall semester of my sophomore year at Drake was one of the best experiences of my life. Because of that, I always knew I wanted to go back to China to learn even more about the fascinating country—that’s why I decided to apply for the Teach in China program through Drake upon graduation. The Teach in China program places recent graduates at universities and middle schools it has relationships with throughout China. Upon admittance into the program, I found out I would be teaching English for a year at Southwest University of Political Science and Law (SWUPL) in Chongqing, China.

I have been living in Chongqing for roughly two months now and can already see elements of my various goals for participating in the program coming to life. My goals for engaging in this type of post-graduate program include: improving my Mandarin language skills, networking with people from all over the world, enhancing my overall knowledge of business in China, and exploring the unique attributes Asia has to offer. Having studied International Business and Marketing at Drake, I feel that these goals will help me succeed in my future career.

Without a doubt, the biggest reason why I wanted to come back to China was to improve my Chinese language capabilities. I believe that learning a language is much more effective when you are immersed in that language’s culture and have to use it on a day-to-day basis. Through practicing my spoken Chinese everyday with Chinese friends, shop owners, taxi drivers, etc., and through taking formal classes through SWUPL (which are free for me as a teacherJ) I feel as if my language skills have improved immensely. My hope is to become near fluent by the time I leave China next August. With China being such a big player in the global arena, I think it is extremely important to know at least some of the language as an international businessperson.

Chongqing is home to over 37 million people, including a large expat community. From attending different events throughout the city, I have connected with professionals from China, Germany, France, Russia, England, and Australia, just to name a few. Living in Chongqing for a year will be a great opportunity for me to expand my network. Not only have I met people, but I have been able to learn more about Chinese business from them (as well as from my students). Being able to understand how business operates in China and the steps necessary to form a partnership in China is a hefty asset in the business world.

Finally, another major reason why I’m here in China is to continue exploring the world and fulfilling my greatest passion in life—travel and discovering different cultures. I believe that travel is invaluable and has made me the person I am today. Not only do you get to see some amazing places (such as Jiuzhai Valley National Park, as seen in the attached photos), but you get to learn more about the culture and yourself, and grow as a person along the way. I think travel has made me a more independent, open-minded, understanding, and versatile human being. I look forward to all of my travel plans throughout the rest of the year, including adventures in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.

Teaching English in China for a year has already proved to be the right decision for me and my future, and it has only been two months. I’m excited for the remainder of the year and can’t wait to see what else I can learn and experience in the Far East. If you’re interested in following my journey, please visit

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