Case Studies

Fulbright scholar on the true value of studying abroad

Qi Chen shares his experience of studying abroad on a Fulbright Scholarship

Qi Chen is a Chemical Engineering student from the US. An ambitious student, he was determined to be at the cutting edge of his field, and to do this he knew that he had to study at a leading global institution. Through the Fulbright programme, Qi secured an opportunity to study abroad at Imperial College, London.

“Some of the most important advances involved in the founding of the Chemical Engineering field came from Imperial College. I was excited to study there and make connections within the community abroad.”

 However, Qi was to soon learn that the true potential of study abroad schemes was more than just academic.

 In 2014, Common Purpose partnered with the Fulbright Commission to offer Scholars the chance to develop their Cultural Intelligence, an idea that strongly supports the initial vision of the Fulbright programme: to ‘erode the culturally rooted mistrust between nations’. Qi was one such Fulbright scholar who participated in a Common Purpose Global Leader Experience in London.

“The Global Leader Experience encouraged me to be open - open to new experiences and new people. It helped me to listen and to think before you judge.”

Qi’s ambitions may initially have been academic, but he found that he was learning in a much broader sense, through exposure to new people and new cultures “What I found is that even though good schools in the US and UK are multicultural, the composition is still different. US schools are much more likely to have people from the Americas, whereas in the UK you are more likely to find other Europeans, Africans, and Central Asians. With that, you learn not only different ways of solving a problem, but different perspectives to what things should even be considered a problem in the first place.”

Cultural Intelligence is increasingly being seen as the top leadership competency for a globalised world and study abroad schemes can provide a unique opportunity for students to develop this. Penny Egan, Executive Director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission similarly values the impact studying abroad can have, beyond the academic development: “At Fulbright, we are passionate about providing students from the UK and US with the opportunity to study abroad and engage them into a new learning experience. Common Purpose programmes are a great addition for our students, offering them a deep immersion into a different context.”