Flexibility is key, says GC major Gigi Jones ’21
Gigi Jones ‘21 is a global commerce major with an economics minor and a regional focus of South Africa and China. She shares a reflection of her past year below.
Being a global commerce major, with a transregional focus between South Africa and China, has become a part of my identity. I was fortunate enough to spend the summer of 2019 abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, and one major lesson I learned from that experience was the importance of flexibility.
This lesson resonates with my most current experience of being a global citizen. This past semester has been an incredible example of the tumultuous, unexpected trend life can have. It has shown me that few things are set in stone and even fewer things last forever. Being a GC major has been a thrilling and ever-changing experience that has helped me understand the crucial importance of being adaptable.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, I was set to travel to Shanghai for the semester. Actually, my initial study abroad was planned for Hong Kong; however, I switched programs in light of the political unrest and civilian riots that were taking place there in summer and fall 2019. I then chose Shanghai as my new study abroad location.
The feeling of uncertainty and possibility filled me with a sense of hope and greater purpose. But, close to the departure date, that program was canceled as a safety precaution due to COVID-19. Instead of completely cancelling my semester abroad, I was offered an alternative program to London. Although it wasn’t my initial program, it still offered the same core courses of my Asian program. Just three weeks in, with the virus rapidly spreading, it was deemed unsafe for students studying abroad, so I returned to Chicago to complete my “abroad” classes online, at home.
One word I’d use to describe my short but impactful abroad experience would be: momentous. Being a part of a defining event in history is both exiting and frightening. This semester has also been momentous because of what it has taught me about the importance of character and adaptability. Even though my time abroad was short, I am eternally grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of living in Europe, and I grew even more appreciative of my summer abroad in Cape Town. The continuous support of my mentors and friends from Global Commerce truly helped me through this difficult time.
The incredible level of support and guidance I have received through the Global Commerce department has not only been comforting but also necessary. The unique encounters have given me knowledge of my true potential and capability. I have become more confident in my ability to be an innovative and autonomous thinker who will greatly contribute to society.