Kim Boudreau served as a Husky Presidential Ambassador this summer, traveling to China to study abroad and mentor incoming international freshmen. For this senior from Spokane, the trip was a chance to leave North America for the first time and share her Husky Pride with incoming freshmen. She came back with new friends and fresh perspectives.
I loved exploring China with the freshmen students. Meeting them in their home country opened my world and theirs. I was matched with Qingyuan and Leo in Beijing, and with Zhicheng and Danni in Shanghai. One of my favorite memories is visiting the crowded, windy Hutongs of Beijing. The Hutongs are a series of old, narrow alleyways, not an ideal place for a big group. Our group of eight UW students was having so much fun that we decided to stick together anyway. Miraculously, we managed not to lose anyone.
I gained as much from the experience as the freshmen students did. I had traveled outside the U.S. only once before, on a trip to Montreal to visit family. This experience was on a whole new level. The Chinese students asked a ton of questions about life at the UW and in the United States. What are the professors like? Which classes should I take? Where’s the best place to eat? If I didn’t know the answer, I asked a fellow Husky Presidential Ambassador. This showed the freshmen students that peers are very useful resources. For my part, I learned that Chinese students are a lot like me. They have the same questions and worries that I had when I first started college. When I started at the UW I was very nervous, and I was only moving from Spokane. I can’t imagine moving halfway across the world. This experience totally changed my perspective on international students.
My study abroad experience was so much richer because I had the opportunity to participate in this cultural exchange. Being with someone who spoke the language and knew the culture made exploring Beijing and Shanghai much easier, but more importantly, I had new friends with me who could answer questions, and tell me about these new places from their perspective.
I didn’t want our time in China to end. At the same time, I was so excited to get back to Seattle because that meant I was one step closer to welcoming the Chinese students to the University of Washington. This quarter, we have class together every Friday. I’m excited for us to explore our University together.