When faced with a foreign place one might run in the opposite direction – a world of unknown is nothing less than intimidating. It takes someone brave to conquer a place of unfamiliarity, especially when the circumstances seem less desirable to someone peering in at a distance. Viviana Ruge unveiled her ability to be fearless when she decided to depart the United States and pursue the opportunity to study abroad in Shanghai, China. Viviana faced several challenges, but she did nothing less than persevere and create a positive, life changing experience for herself.
As a traveling young woman, Viviana had visited places like Columbia, Mexico and the Dominican Republic during family vacations prior to her study abroad experience. She has been exposed to several different cultures, but wanted to expand her horizons and knowledge of the world even further – she craved a study abroad experience that screamed originality. With that said, it is apparent why Viviana would choose Shanghai, China – It wasn’t the typical study abroad experience.
Although she would be attending Fukudan University which would teach her in English, it was a culture shock to Viviana when she realized that all signs and forms of campus guidance were written in Chinese characters. She knew she was going to face obstacles throughout her time in Shanghai – this was only the first. Viviana was not going to allow any hindrances to drag her down. Instead, she fought through and quickly found solutions – she further learned how to adapt and make this process easier on herself. She used her resources such as newly met friends and her Introduction to Chinese course to promote her survival.
Viviana quickly learned that Chinese was a language based on tones – yet another obstacle. When she thought she was saying something correctly she quickly learned her tone was a little off based on the confused reaction of the locals. She did not give up, though. Even after returning, Viviana, who is fluent in both English and Spanish, can still speak some Chinese, although she realizes learning the language requires time in order to keep up with it.
Although many would be skeptical, actually afraid, of a study abroad experience in China, Viviana embraced this opportunity. Her growth professionally, and personally, is evident through the stories she’s taken with her from Shanghai, her beaming confidence, and the way her eyes light up when she recalls fond memories, such as watching the sunrise from the Great Wall, and speaks about the possibility of returning. Viviana is a true role model for the Nichols community. Her story of bravery proves what can be accomplished when one doesn’t allow the fear of the unknown limit them.