Laura Van't Land
My growing up experience probably differed quite a bit from the average American kid. My family moved to Hong Kong when I was two and I spent the next three and a half years there. From there we moved to Malaysia where I began first grade at an American boarding school for missionary kids. I attended Dalat School through the eighth grade, after which we returned to the US. My parents moved us to western South Dakota which was, not surprisingly, vastly different from the mix of Asian cultures I had grown up in. Nevertheless, I enrolled in St. Thomas More, a Catholic high school and remained there until I graduated and entered Valparaiso University. I did my undergrad work at VU, d ouble majoring in International Economics and Cultural Affairs and Chinese Studies. During my senior year of college I decided to pursue my Masters degree at Valpo and thus enrolled in the MACS program.

I chose the MACS program because I really want to improve my Chinese to the point where I can legitimately put it on my resume. I hope to work for the US government eventually in some sort of international work, possibly the Diplomatic Corps. I feel that improving my Chinese will make me more marketable as a job candidate.

The MACS program is unique because of its small size and emphasis on personal attention. Each student can receive help in whatever area he or she finds most difficult. For me personally, I have been able to improve my tones and pronunciation because of the one-on-one attention that I have been given. The program is challenging, yet flexible. For students considering the MACS program, I would highly recommend it. It is affordable and, as I previously stated, the one-on-one attention that each student receives will give everyone an opportunity to improve.

The greatest experiences I have had throughout my studies have been the numerous opportunities to travel throughout China, not only to practice my language skills, but to get a better perspective on life and culture in the various regions of China. Perhaps the most memorable experience was traveling to Tibet for a week with three of my friends. The things I saw and encountered on that trip have made a huge impact on me and have opened up my eyes to an entirely new culture.

The majority of my time is spent in class or studying, but I also find opportunities for leisure or exercising. Every afternoon I spend an hour or two playing Ultimate Frisbee with my friends, and in the evenings I often combine studying and socializing. Valpo's new library is an awesome place to do homework and hang out with friends. The weekends are a great chance to get homework done as well as relax and de-stress.