Lane Hart started on the road less traveled as soon as he started college. A native of Lewisburg, Ohio, who has a computer consulting business outside of school, Lane had an interest in Chinese culture that he didn't get to explore until he came to UC. After taking four years of Spanish in high school, he could have placed into an advanced college class, but a conversation on the way back from Bearcat Bound Orientation convinced him to begin taking Chinese language his freshman year. Now a second-year Information Systems/Finance double major with an Asian Studies minor, Lane spent a month in China last summer at Dalian Jiaotong University taking intensive courses in Mandarin Chinese language and a variety of traditional Chinese arts from kung fu to cooking dumplings. And "what an adventure it has been," he says, learning about "a culture so vastly different from ours in the West."
Along with a group of three other UC undergraduates studying in Dalian, Lane went on weekend trips to six other Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. Which places made the biggest impression? The Great Wall's thousands of years of history and Beijing, whose Forbidden City, theaters, and night markets were "incredibly clean and lively." But what really impressed Lane was the hospitality of all Chinese people and their eagerness to connect with Westerners. He was surprised to get an invitation to stay with a Shanghai family from a girl he had just met minutes before in an airport. During the weeks that followed, he was delighted by many more encounters with welcoming Chinese residents.
Since Lane wants to someday do business in Asia, he says that understanding the culture there is important. "The trip afforded valuable insights about the Chinese way of life. Business dealings there seem to be done based on relationships, not just numbers." What advice would he give to students thinking about going abroad? "Travel itself is crucial," he insists. Spending time in another culture allows people to "step out of their comfort zones and open their minds."