A semester in Shanghai: Joyce Kane

March 03, 2017

Scholar Spotlight

A semester in Shanghai: Joyce Kane

The food, Joyce exclaimed, is what she misses most about her time abroad. A native of Washington DC, Joyce took a huge leap of faith last fall and traveled outside of the country for the first time for an entire semester. A senior studying Political Science in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences at GW, Joyce wants to pursue a career in law. Though she was nervous to be traveling to the other side of the world by herself, she was excited to spend the first semester of her senior year in a country that she greatly admires and loves. Her program, The Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE) Shanghai, China in a Global Context, housed at one of China’s most prestigious universities, East China Normal University (ECNU) allowed her to pursue her goal of not only traveling to China, but also improving her Chinese language skill and learning about Chinese culture.

During her semester abroad, Joyce’s days were constantly filled with educational and memorable experiences. From Monday to Thursday, she started her day at 8:30am to study Chinese and on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, she spent her afternoons studying Chinese Film and Society, Chinese Political Development, and Chinese Modern History, respectively. After classes, her evenings were spent doing homework and actively studying and improving her Chinese language skill. Despite the program being at ECNU, the classes that Joyce and her fellow program participants took were taught separately from ECNU students. On weekends and long breaks, the participants of the program could travel throughout Shanghai, China, and Asia.


Joyce, on her trip traveling the Silk Road, Joyce and fellow participants visited Dunhuang, China where they were able to experience what it was like to ride a camel through the desert.

CIEE Shanghai paid for and hosted one weekend trip and one week long trip for the students. For the weekend trip, the students could choose between Nanjing, the former capital of China, and Hua Shan, which is significant because of its long religious history, and for the week long trip, the options were traveling to the Silk Road, to Taiwan, and to Hong Kong. Joyce chose to visit Nanjing and to travel the Silk Road because she was “finally able to see what [she] had learned in history class.” During other weekends and Golden Week, a week long break in China, Joyce decided not to travel to other parts of China or Asia, but, instead chose to spend the time sightseeing and trying out new restaurants with friends in Shanghai. The program also offered optional day trips to different places in Shanghai, such as the Marriage Market, some of which Joyce and her friends decided to participate in to learn more about Chinese and, specifically, Shanghai culture.

When asked what she had learned about Chinese culture, she answered, “more than I can summarize in words.” However, she did say, “Some things that actively contrasted with American society were food culture, traffic culture, and the idea of personal space.” Joyce received more than just a better understanding of the Chinese culture and language while she was abroad. She was also offered a full ride for a Master’s Degree Program in Politics at the host university, ECNU.

Study abroad opened up many opportunities for this young woman from Washington, DC who had never before travelled outside of the country. When asked what her favorite part of the program and studying abroad was, besides the food, she responded that visiting the Silk Road and Nanjing were her favorites because she was able to see and experience the history that she had only, formerly, learned in a classroom. This opportunity was not only made possible by the CIEE Shanghai program, who paid for her Chinese visa, but also by the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg (SJT) Scholarship, which paid for everything except travel fare and spending money.