Name: Megan Lee
Where are you from: Merrillville, IN
Where did you live overseas: Windhoek, Namibia and Beijing, China
Where are you now: Berkeley, CA
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I am a 24 year old who just relocated from Beijing to Berkeley. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Valparaiso University in 2010 with a degree in International Economics and Cultural Affairs and Chinese/Japanese Studies (what a mouthful!). It was an excellent program and I had a great experience in Valpo (Go Crusaders!). I received a scholarship from the Chinese government to study Mandarin in Beijing from 2010-2011. During that time, I began working with an international education company, China Study Abroad. I currently work for an internet startup that helps students choose being study, teach, volunteer, and intern abroad programs called Go Overseas. Check it out if you or a friend (or your child) is considering going abroad.
Why did you go abroad:
Ever since I traveled to England with my family at the age of 13, I have been enamored with the idea of study abroad. I think I was always meant to live overseas, as even my favorite childhood book was about a rabbit and his worldwide adventures. I chose Valpo for my university because I could study for a summer in China and then for a semester in England. As it would have it, I never did make it to England for a study abroad semester, as I instead chose to spend it in southern Africa. After college, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to live and work abroad. I am itching to go back!
Why did you come back to the US:
My life errs on the side of chaos and adventure; when this awesome Bay Area company offered me a position as the Study Abroad Director, I couldn’t say no. It’s been a good transition from life abroad because of my supportive coworkers.
Do you prefer to be back in China or are you happy to be back in the US:
There are positives and negatives to both lifestyles – China felt more like an exotic adventure and I felt very free. I also liked that it was cheap to eat out all of the time (I’m a terrible cook!) Sometimes the terrible traffic and pollution would make me long for life back home. I am happy to be in California, which almost feels like a “new country,” as it is very different from my Midwest roots. Every day holds something new to be learned, whether you are in a new or familiar place.
Favorite part about living abroad:
The food, the ease of travel, and the lower living costs. More vacation time at work!
Hardest part about living abroad:
Constantly feeling like an outsider and missing family and friends back home. Language barriers can be quite frustrating at times too!
Did you feel at home in China:
Absolutely. I think any place can feel “homey” if you have great people and friends to share it with.
What have you learned about yourself through this all moving process:
I am extremely independent and adaptable. I like not having a car!
Advice for Americans looking to move abroad:
Be patient – your new life overseas will take a few months to adjust to. Avoid getting too caught up in expat circles (besides, did you move abroad to be with other Americans?) Make an effort to not only better understand and interact with locals, but also with other foreigners/expats in the area. You will find it can be a truly “international” experience!
Advice for Americans looking to move back to the US:
Again, be patient (I need to keep reminding myself of this!)
Any other thoughts you would like to share with us:
Do not pass up any opportunity to move abroad. If that opportunity never presents itself, create one. Living overseas (and a subsequent return) will give Americans new skills that are necessary for us to move forward in the 21st century. Your insights will be invaluable. Besides, it’s fun.
Want to be like Megan and experience living abroad? Check out Megan’s Company Go Overseas, and see what the world has to offer you!