Paving Her Own Way Through Her Chinese Major

As a self-proclaimed language enthusiast, MSU senior Paige Korner has known since high school that she wanted to study Chinese in college. Since making the decision to major in Chinese, Korner – who also picked up a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) minor along the way – has studied abroad in both Korea and Taiwan.

“I really enjoy the feeling of people Paige Kornerunderstanding me, and being able to bridge connections and make friends with people who speak another language,” said Korner, whose first study abroad experience was the summer before her first year at Michigan State University.

That summer, she went to South Korea, where she took classes on Asian culture at Yonsei University in Seoul and traveled throughout the country, experiencing the food, shopping and pop culture.

“Not only was my study abroad a good way for me to explore Korea, it also was a great transition into college,” Korner said.

The following summer, her education took her to National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan, where she took three hours of intensive language classes per day.

“My language class only had four students, so it was very intimate,” Korner said. “You get so much more attention and work done when you’re in a very small group of people all working together.”

You get so much more attention and work done when you’re in a very small group of people all working together.

In addition to her language classes, Korner also took culture classes, which included learning about the art of calligraphy and the strategy of the traditional Chinese game, Mahjongg.

In the evening, she explored the night markets of Taiwan, and when she wasn’t in class, she also went on excursions to the National Palace Museum and to a few different traditional Taiwanese villages.

Although Michigan State University’s study abroad programs affiliates with both universities where Korner studied, she chose to arrange her experiences independently, but the credits from these experiences still transferred to her degree program. As a result, she will graduate a year early.

Paige Korner“I feel really grateful to MSU for allowing me to find my own programs that fit me and for being willing to accept credits from them,” said Korner, who will graduate in May.

Korner also credits Michigan State University for playing a large role in her success as a student studying a foreign language and for being enriched by the diversity of the campus.  

“Every single Chinese teacher I’ve had has always been willing to go out of their way to help. They’ve not only been wonderful teachers, but wonderful people,” Korner said. “Also, the general welcoming, international environment on campus has made the experience so much better. The staff and students are from all over the world, and I really like that setting.”

Korner plans to return to National Taiwan University in fall 2017 and will continue taking language classes while she begins her job search.

“It’s very easy to lose a language if you’re not using it,” she said. “I just want to keep practicing.”

The staff and students are from all over the world, and I really like that setting.

Korner would like to use her degree to work at a cosmetic company in China. She also is considering working as a cultural liaison for a corporation where employees are relocated to China.

“I want something where I can live in Taiwan and actively use my language skills,” Korner said. “I’m not picky about it as long I’m still using the Chinese language way after I graduate.”