Spartanburg, S.C. – Most University of South Carolina Upstate students who study abroad for a semester are young, single and carefree. Medea Darden, a USC Upstate non-traditional student, however, does not fit the typical profile.
Married with three children and a job at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, this 32-year-old history major is finalizing plans to spend the fall semester at the Zhejiang Forestry University (ZFU) in Hangzhou, China.
“I am really excited about the trip because I enjoy studying all aspects of Eastern culture from religion, healthcare and medicine, to sociology and gender roles,” says Darden, adding, “and of course the food is always a plus!”
While a student at ZFU, Darden will take courses in the Chinese dialect Ping Ying, Chinese reading and writing, comprehensive Chinese, listening and oral Chinese.
This Spartanburg resident has never traveled abroad before and she knows that being nearly 8,000 miles from her husband and children, aged five to 12, will not be easy.
“We plan to purchase computer video cameras so we can see each other every day and be involved in each other’s every day lives,” she says. “Four months is not a long time considering the grand scheme of life and though it will be difficult for me to be away, I have been blessed with a husband who is a wonderful father and he will have a great time with the boys.”
“I applaud her for what she’s doing and for what her family is sacrificing for her,” says Happy Montgomery who works in the International Studies office at USC Upstate. “Medea is making a pretty big sacrifice in that she will miss birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years celebrations with her family and friends here in Spartanburg. But she believes this international study will help prepare her for a teaching career, which will benefit her family both educationally and economically,” says Montgomery.
Preparations for the trip include Chinese language classes in Spartanburg taught by instructor Huaiying Kang. One of her professors, Dr. Qiliang He, suggested the study abroad trip so Darden could immerse herself in the Chinese culture and language, in order to be better prepared for graduate studies in Chinese history. She plans to pursue a master’s degree after she graduates in 2008.
With a student body totaling 14,500 students, ZFU is located on the east coast of China in the city of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province. USC Upstate currently has an agreement of understanding with ZFU which allows for the exchange of students between the two universities.
For additional information about USC Upstate’s study abroad opportunities, including Zhejiang Forestry University, call (864) 503-5661 or contact Dr. Regis Robe, director of international studies, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Medea Darden can be reached at email@example.com.