Citizen Scholars Program Helps Fund Study Abroad to China

Citizen Scholar Margo Skornia, a junior with a double major in Theatre and Chinese, received funding from the Citizen Scholars program to help pay for her two-month study abroad trip to China this past summer.

This study abroad experience allowed her to finish her Chinese major. She took Chinese language classes at the Harbin Institute of Technology each day from 8 a.m. until noon. These high-intensity, high-paced classes helped her get through all the material so she could focus more on the vocabulary and syntax of the language itself.

“Even in the short time I was in China, I could tell that my Chinese improved greatly,” Skornia said. “Immersion not only improved my technical skills, but I was also able to pick up idioms, slang, and regional terms that I would not have learned otherwise.”

Skornia spent the majority of her time in China in Harbin, the capital of China’s northernmost province. She lived with a female Chinese graduate student who gave her a first-hand perspective of what it means to be a young woman in China. She also spent two weeks with a host family, which allowed her to be more immersed in the culture.

woman with a Michigan State University flag on her back standing in front of the Great Wall
Margo with the Spartan Flag overlooking the Great Wall of China

“Studying in China gave me insight to the fact that people are very similar at their core,” Skornia said. “Whether I was out to dinner with my roommate or rolling dumplings with my host mom, the experiences I had let me tap into a human connection that spans the globe. Even when I was exhausted and homesick, the people I was with lifted me up and supported me, even if they didn’t know me very well. My experiences were refreshing and reminded me that people are good at heart.”

Skornia took Chinese in high school because she wanted to take on the challenge that the language provides. From that point on, she has been engaged with the language. At MSU, she was drawn to the Citizen Scholars program for the opportunities the program provides.

“Just being in Citizen Scholars and the emphasis they put on the importance of study abroad and having a global experience was very helpful and made me recognize that this is something that is fundamental to being a global person and a global citizen,” she said. “The thing that I value most about Citizen Scholars is the connections that I’ve made through this program. They’ve connected me to faculty and suggested pieces to read or look into that others are working on. I want to know as much as I can.”