Meet Ragan Harrison

Meet Ragan Harrison, an ECE student who studied abroad at Shanghai Jiao Tong, aiming to improve his Chinese skills while continuing his engineering experience amid a different culture.

Program and Location:

Fall, China: Engineering at Shanghai Jiao Tong; Shanghai, China


Electrical Engineering/Computer Engineering

Why did you choose to study abroad?

To further my Chinese language skills.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned that patience is necessary in many different situations that you may not be used to. Additionally, how myself, others living in the US, and others living in the first world in general, take many of our rights and privileges for granted.

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

Traveling was definitely the best part. I loved exploring Shanghai – the vast metropolis was perhaps one of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Additionally, traveling to Beijing and Xi’an and some other locations across mainland China was extremely fun and insightful.

What advice do you have to future study abroad students?

For this specific program, please, please, please do not take more than two technical courses. As a matter of fact, I would recommend only taking one. The engineering courses at SJTU are incredible difficult. Please just fill the rest of your schedule with GEP courses so you can get the maximum experience out of your time abroad.

How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?

My experience in China definitely improved my Chinese language skills. Additionally, it gave me a sneak peak at what Chinese culture is actually like so that I will be more acquainted with it when I return in the future to work.

Were you surprised by anything during your time abroad?

The only thing I was really taken aback by was the attitude of the locals and the difficulty of the courses. Other than that, studying Chinese for many years prepared me for pretty much everything I encountered.

How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at NC State? Did you take any field trips or do anything outside of the traditional classroom?

I could write on this subject for days. They were just harder for all the wrong reasons. The professors were not the best at explaining the material, we never got the opportunity to see the mistakes we made on exams or quizzes in order to improve, and the material was covered at an incredibly fast rate. This was my biggest irk while abroad.

In what ways did your identity have an impact on your experience abroad?

In China, all foreigners are treated a bit differently – its just a part of the culture. Do research and be prepared for this.

Would you do it again?

Yes, but I would change a lot of things about my experience.

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