James Hendershot '10
History | Harrisburg, Pa.
James Hendershot ‘10 caught the traveling bug while studying in the Netherlands his senior year at Susquehanna. So, before starting law school, he decided to take a little detour. To China.
Hendershot teaches English to elementary and middle schoolers, as well as a class of international students, at the Eastern Bilingual School in Baoding in the Hebei province. He returned to the U.S. to start law school at Dickinson School of Law in the fall of 2011.
“I loved my time spent traveling around Europe and wanted to see more of the world. China is a rising force in the world, and I thought it would be helpful to understand the country’s people and culture,” Hendershot says.
Hendershot was able to adjust quickly to living in the Netherlands, thanks to the fact that English was widely spoken there, as well as his European history studies at Susquehanna. But the transition to living in China hasn’t been quite as easy.
“The language barrier presents challenges that oftentimes require creative solutions. This country is a world away from the Netherlands, but for that reason, it has much to teach me,” he says.
Though everyday tasks, like crossing the street and grocery shopping, can be more difficult, Hendershot says he’s found the people of China to be friendly and accommodating.
He advises students planning to study abroad to make sure they research the country where they will be studying and learn about its history and culture.
“Pack an open mind. Realize that you will not live the same lifestyle abroad that you do at home. Also, challenge yourself wherever you go. You tend to get the most out of travel if you do,” he says.
For Hendershot, one of those challenging moments was a bicycle trip across the Netherlands—something he would never have attempted at home. The independence of the trip inspired him to go to China rather than directly to law school.
“That bike trip changed the direction that I decided to take my life after graduation. It was the stepping stone that brought me to China,” he says, adding, “Living outside of a comfortable environment changes a person.”
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