International Friday: Two K/Christians, Two Languages, Two Jobs Abroad
Two K/Christians: Initial Introduction
Modern Languages & Literatures) arrived at his dorm room in Whitney Hall during first-year move-in, he saw that the roommate he had yet to meet had been having fun. That roommate would turn out to be Kristian Wingo’09 (English Literary Studies, German). Christian and Kristian, the only two K/Christians on campus, would be living together. Hey, why not? When Christian Rozier’09 (
Fortunately, they got along great and had a lot in common, especially their love for languages. Christian studied Chinese, Kristian German. In their split double, Christian practiced Chinese calligraphy in his room, while Kristian read German literature in his. But they also had plenty of fun together and often joked about the “same but different” names. One year for Halloween, for example, they dressed up as an angel (Kristian) and the devil (Christian).
They spent time together in the classroom, too. Although they had different majors, Beloit’s flexible, interweaving curriculum led them to take two classes together: A literature class on technology and a creative writing class. Both studied languages abroad, Kristian at the University of Erfurt in Germany, and Christian at Shandong University in China; both universities are long-time Beloit College partner institutions.
What have they been doing post-graduation?
Post-graduation, both K/Christians went to Asia to teach. Kristian taught English as a second language in Korea, where his English degree made him an attractive candidate for positions. His experience living abroad and learning a foreign language in Germany also helped him adapt to life inside and outside of the classroom in Korea. He later returned to the US and taught ESL at the University of Missouri. He’s currently an instructional designer at the same university.
Christian taught English as a second language after graduation, too, only his route aligned more closely with his language studies. He went to China, where the language and cultural knowledge he’d gained during study abroad helped him adapt quickly. Since then, he has earned his Master’s degree in Business Management at Sun Yat-sen University. He currently works at a China-based international tech startup.
The Beloit College international experience profoundly influenced both K/Christians’ careers and perspectives. Neither has had a straightforward path, but neither would change it for the world.
Advice to students who want to work abroad
Studying abroad provides a safe, guided (and fun!) way to experience another country, language, and culture. Even for non-language majors, Beloit offers a full spectrum of study abroad programs tailored to all kinds of learning objectives. There’s a good reason why over time, nearly half of all Beloit students have studied abroad.
Use what you know
Kristian didn’t know Korean. But as a result of his German coursework and study abroad experience, he was confident in his language learning ability. And although he also had no teaching background, he had great language teaching examples in his German professors, and emulated their approach when teaching English in his own classroom.
Because Christian had already been studying Chinese culture and language, he didn’t have to start from scratch when he arrived in China. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Quite the opposite, in fact: He landed in Chairman Mao’s hometown in central China, far from the Western accommodations found in China’s more developed, international coastal cities. Fortunately, he was able to rely on his other Beloiter skills: Adaptability and creativity, two necessary tools for living and working abroad.
Keep in touch
Kristian found his job in Korea through a friend of a fellow Beloiter. Christian found his foot in the door to his master’s program after reaching out to a Sun Yat-sen professor who’d visited a university in Christian’s home state.
You can’t predict the unexpected ways people you meet will reappear in your journey. But know this: Nothing can replace real human connection, and Beloit connections last a lifetime.
Christian and Kristian quickly learned that they both enjoy having fun and not taking things too seriously. The K/Christian dorm room was a perfect example: Posters on the walls ranging from 50 Cent to Lisa Frank, speakers playing a mix of Maxwell, Tiesto, and Vengaboys.
When living in another country and speaking a foreign language, you’re going to make mistakes and have misunderstandings. Learn from those mistakes to improve your language and cultural competencies, but enjoy them too.
Kristian laughs when he remembers a work dinner in Korea when he pulled a still-frozen dumpling out of the communal hotpot and crunched into it while his coworkers looked on, cringing. Christian now smiles when he tells people how terrifying it was ordering lunch off of a handwritten Chinese menu for the first time.
It’s important to remember that the awkward, sometimes distressing experiences of living abroad can become some of your favorite funny stories years later.