Meet Vance - SYA China 2018

SYA China student Vance poses with statue in China


Vance poses with another SYA China student


Co-Curriculars Abroad: Chinese calligraphy, traditional ethnic minority dancing, photography, chorus
Favorite SYA Class: Chinese Political Science
Favorite food in China Rice porridge with corn and potatoes
College Attending: Brown University

How did you come to the decision to attend SYA?

With roots in my desire to explore the world away from home and school, I took advantage of my two years of Mandarin language learning to study abroad and be invested in a culture different from my own. 

What did you learn in your year abroad that surprised you?

Other than a couple hundred years of Chinese history, I learned that my hard work really paid off. I was really surprised by how important learning and mastering Chinese was to me. I realized it's an incredibly difficult thing to pull off, and I'm well on my way to achieving it. I also learned that independent travel is a real experience. I was surprised by my problem-solving abilities and budgeting skills.

Do you have a particularly special host family moment?

There were a couple of times when my older host brother came home from college, and the whole family would go to the spa. In the spa, we would bathe, eat and drink lots of tea in a really hot room. Those were always the coolest moments.

At SYA, the curriculum lives in and outside the classroom, what memorable educational experience did you have outside the classroom?

Several of the most impactful experiences happened every time I held a conversation with a stranger on the street. Since I'm very visibly a foreigner, people enjoyed talking to me. Through those people including my host family, I picked up new words and slang. I even made significant progress in my understanding of sentence structures and tones.

How was your education at SYA different than at your high school?Vance poses with student in China

There was more focus on language acquisition and resourcefulness. At Concord, we don't normally have assignments in which we need to go outside and interview people about their lives and their country's culture. At SYA, even homework played a huge role in my acquisition of Chinese language and cultural understanding.

What advice would you give to someone who considering SYA?

Studying abroad in high school may be the boldest thing you could do, and know that every moment will be worth it. In order for you to be happy, you have to want to be happy. However, by even considering choosing SYA, you've shown you are capable. Trust your gut!

How did your year abroad change you?

Mandarin and Chinese culture have become part of my daily life now. I watch an excessive amount of Chinese dramas and music. I decorated my room with flags, lanterns and couplets used for the Lunar New Year. I still use WeChat, and I'm always finding new ways to maintain the language. Mandarin is my second language, and it's super important to me that I stick with it and expand my knowledge of China. China was also my second home.

How did SYA impact your college application process?

SYA was written all over my application. My personal essay was about how being in China and acquiring my second language was important for me and my family. My interviewers loved the stories I had about my experience in China. Talking about SYA was and still is my favorite. 

What life skills do you feel like you learned while at SYA?

- How to manage on a budget during independent travel (Hong Kong)

- Depend on people for directions and information in addition to my cell phone and the internet

- Pack light

- Never give up when translations fail you or you can't communicate successfully right away

- Be really patient


SYA China student Vance with host family

To learn more about SYA China, check out the China Campus page.