Meet Your Sojourner Advocates

Sonja Schaefer

Studied Away in Beijing, China Fall 2014; Argentina/Antarctica J-Term 2014 Environmental Literature

Class of 2016

Majors: Economics and Chinese Studies

International Honors

Entering PLU as undeclared but sure I wanted to study away, left me unsure on where and about what I wanted to study… But I did get started early my freshman year talking to Wang Center staff about my options. As freshman year progressed, I slowly realized that Economics and Chinese Studies fascinated me. Sophomore year I declared both as majors and searched through all my study away options. I found a perfect fit with an Approved program IES: Intensive Chinese in Beijing with an elective course Contemporary Chinese Economy.

Living in a giant metropolis with a non-English-speaking host family (I chose this accommodation), was exactly the independent adventure I was seeking. Getting an inside look at the daily routine and lifestyle of my family was invaluable. I can now speak intelligently about the middle class in China, how the grandparents are so involved in children’s upbringing, and how much scholastic pressure children receive. Additionally, I was memorizing 40 new Chinese characters four times a week. By the end, I could talk to my host family about the Cultural Revolution in Chinese while sitting around the dinner table dexterously using my chopsticks to eat delicious home-cooked Chinese dishes. I developed strong relationships with everyone in my program, and we had free days, weekends, and whole weeks to explore Beijing and the wide expanse of China at large. #LutesAway!