Recently we heard from Kinsey Hotchkiss, Class of 2014, about her experiences teaching in rural China and traveling all over Asia. Now, as she makes plans to return to the United States and go to business school, Kinsey shares her memories of her time at UVM and how it changed her life:
As a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences in the fall of 2010, I had no idea what I wanted to study. I decided to take a wide variety of classes in hopes that something would catch my interest. Fortunately, I decided to take Elementary Chinese on a whim. I began to love the language and excelled in its study. I decided to become a Chinese Language major with a minor in Business Administration.
In the summer of 2012, I took my first study abroad trip, “Doing Business in China,” at Qingdao University in Qingdao, Northern China. The following summer I studied abroad again, this time through UVM’s Chinese language department, at Yunnan University in the city of Kunming, Western China.
By the spring of 2014 I was set to graduate and was unsure of what I should do. My Chinese professor and advisor, Professor Jing-hua Yin, informed me and fellow classmates of an American company seeking native English speakers to teach oral English at public schools in Shenzhen, China. Once again, on a whim I sent in an application and soon I was hired. Before long, I joined eighty other teachers and flew to Shenzhen, where we were trained, and then began teaching.
On the first day of school, I was faced with a class of sixty first graders who knew very little to no English. We started with ABC’s and even that was too much. So we ended up learning the ABC’s all year, along with the occasional B.I.N.G.O. song. I became comfortable with teaching and began to settle into life in China. Although adjusting to life in Shenzhen wasn’t too hard, many things about the culture were challenging to me as an expatriate: the spitting in the streets, the idea that not a single person knew or understood the concept of a line and, of course, the cooked hanging dogs in restaurant windows.
I loved my job teaching every day, and what has made me happiest about living and working abroad has been traveling. In the past two years I’ve traveled to twelve countries: Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Macau. I’ve not only been able to see these immensely different cultures and eat some amazing and weird foods along the way (e.g., rat and snake), but I’ve also been forced to step out of my comfort zone. People keep asking me how I am able to do these amazing travels. The answer is not difficult, and I am not loaded with money to spend. Rather, I just had the guts to go out and explore.
Overall, deciding to live and work abroad has been the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve met some incredible people, seen some amazing places, and been able to help some adorable kids learn how to read, speak, and write English.