Love of Language

Caitlin Baltzley at the Chengdu Panda Reserve

Caitlin Baltzley '16 at the Chengdu Panda Reserve in China.

Caitlin Baltzley ’16

Major: East Asian Studies, Five College Certificate in International Relations

Study Abroad: MHC Beijing Summer Program; Semester Abroad at Minzu University

Awards: Five College Chinese Speech Contest

I had always found foreign languages interesting, but it wasn't until taking my first Chinese class at Mount Holyoke that I truly found my calling. Mandarin Chinese is endlessly fascinating to me with its many characters and tones. It was also exciting to imagine the expanded employment prospects that I might have with a proficiency in the language. After falling in love with the department, I soon declared my major in East Asian studies.

Paired with my minor in International Relations, I really appreciated the opportunities my major gave me to study the history and cultures of other countries. However, after my sophomore year, I decided I needed to take steps towards honing my language proficiency. With the help of my mentors and peers in the department, I was able to study in China twice before my senior year. Both programs were oriented around language acquisition; the first was MHC's own "Summer in Beijing" program, and the second was a semester abroad at Minzu University.

Studying abroad was the best decision I have ever made. Of course, studying Chinese in Beijing was the ideal environment for me to improve my Mandarin. However, it was also the adventure of a lifetime. From exploring Beijing during the Spring Festival, all the way to petting pandas in Chengdu, my time abroad is something I won't soon forget.