Ozarks student to study in Shanghai this fall

Release Date: 6/21/2012

Shanghai is not only the largest city in the People's Republic of China but also the largest city in the world. And this fall, Rosa Ruiz is going to find out what it's like up close and personal.

Rosa Ruiz

Rosa Ruiz, a junior management/administation and strategic communication major, will spend the 2012 fall semester at Shanghai International Studies University.

Ruiz, a junior management/administration and strategic communication major from Zacatecas, Mexico, has received a grant from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, which offers financial aid for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies abroad. With this funding she will be spending the 2012 fall semester at Shanghai International Studies University.

"This is one of those things I've always wanted to do," says Ruiz. "Going to college and studying abroad have been two of the big items on my bucket list for a long time. For years it was just a thought in the back of my mind, but during my first semester here at Ozarks I started Googling and decided it might be possible. I am very interested in both South Korea and China, and in fact I know a little bit more about South Korea right now, but at the time when I was Googling programs and scholarships, China offered more scholarships and was easier to apply for, so I went with that choice."

In Shanghai, Ruiz will take language classes in Mandarin Chinese as well as courses in Chinese culture and business. "One thing that drew me to this program was that proficiency in Chinese was not a requirement," Ruiz said. "I will get an intro to Mandarin this way, and I can pursue that further when I get back. Chinese is very different than the Romance languages, like French or Spanish, or English for that matter, but I listen to a lot of international music and watch lots of Chinese films with subtitles. After a while you sort of get used to the rhythms of it."

Ruiz says the classes she's taking are taught American-style, with all the lectures in English. "Some people call this place the Yale of China," she said, "so I'm pretty excited."

She said she was researching things to do and places to see in Shanghai and more broadly in China long before she applied to study there. "It's kind of overwhelming," she said. "There's so much to do. Shanghai is the big modern city of China. It is a cultural and industrial center and gives you a pretty good idea of why China is such a powerhouse on the world stage. Plus, it's a very pretty city."

She's uncertain on whether to find a part-time job during her semester there. "I don't think I'll be working. I'll just be studying," she said. "It would be neat to know how the workplace is over there, even if it's just a small job, but I want to do well in my coursework too."

Hong Kong is also on Ruiz' list of places to visit while she's in the neighborhood. "We have a few days off here and there, and one full week off during the semester," she said. "Luckily I'll be there during the Chinese New Year, which will be spectacular. And there's a band I love to listen that is playing in Hong Kong while I'll be in China, so that's a definite possibility."

South Korea, however, may have to wait for another time. "I'd love to go there also," she said, "but my finals go right up until the last day, December 21, and if I take time to go to South Korea I'll miss Christmas at home, so that isn't going to happen. It really isn't that far away, which is too bad. South Korean pop culture and music are really big in Central and South America. They have boy band-style groups that have a big following in Europe, too."

Ruiz will be doing a blog during her semester abroad as part of a project required by the Gillman scholarship. "It's kind of like Ozarks' Academic Enrichment Fund," she said. "You have to do a project based on your experiences, so I'll be blogging about my time in Shanghai. There are rules about what you can or can't put on the internet over there - they call it the Great Firewall of China - so I have to figure out all of that ahead of time and get my laptop ready for the trip."

Ruiz said she always wanted to be a business major. "I really want to go into international business," she said. "I hope to pursue that in grad school. At first I didn't think I liked management. I felt business would be an okay major if it weren't for that darned management class you have to take. But as soon as I took Introduction to Management and Management Concepts at Ozarks, I was like, 'This Is It!' As for the strategic communication major, I think it goes good with everything, and I really love my classes and my professors. Dr. Heather McFarland helped me a lot with the process of getting my paperwork together for going on this trip. I'm very excited!"