The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Kate Partridge: Traveling to Hamilton College to Further Chinese Language Studies

Printed with permission of Kate Partridge

Senior Kate Partridge began learning the Chinese language in fourth grade. Kate decided that learning Chinese would be a beneficial skill to have, as there was a large Asian population in her hometown. 

“It was useful and I liked it, so I kept taking classes throughout middle school and high school,” Partridge explained. 

In high school, Kate studied abroad in Beijing with a host family and decided to continue her studies in Chinese language at Colgate University. Before her freshman year began, she had already become a relatively advanced Chinese speaker and was eager to become as fluent in the language as possible. Due to her advanced skills, Kate was placed in 300 and 400-level Chinese courses in her first several semesters at Colgate. The decision to major in Chinese was relatively easy for Kate, as she had already taken many of the required courses for the major. By the time she was a sophomore, Kate had already taken all of the Chinese language courses necessary to fulfill her major. Along with her language courses, she also took other related Asian studies classes.

“I also had to take classes taught in English about China,” Kate said. “Something that is actually really interesting is that I took a class that was about Japan for my major with a group of Japanese language majors. Because there are not a lot of classes offered at once, […] they offer classes about Japan for the Chinese major.”

Kate described the selection of Chinese language courses as quite limited, but mentioned that there is a wider selection of courses focused on China as a country, including “China and the West” and “Chinese Medicine.”

“It’s a pretty niche program,” Kate said. “Like, one of my classes only had four people in it. I know all of the professors pretty well.”

By sophomore year, Kate had completed all of the Chinese language courses offered at Colgate. She had hoped to study for a semester in China during her junior year, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other extenuating circumstances, she was forced to change her plans and decided to study in Paris, France instead. 

“I kind of started to feel like I had imposter syndrome,” Kate said. “Like I’m a Chinese major but I [didn’t] really feel fulfilled in how much Chinese I learned.”

Kate reached out to the Colgate Office of the Registrar to see if there was any way for her to continue her Chinese language studies this year. She was informed about a cross-register program with Hamilton College that is unknown to most Colgate students. Hamilton College offers a large number of courses taught in Chinese, so Kate was then put in contact with the Office of the Registrar there and enrolled in a Chinese course.

Every Monday and Wednesday, Kate gets in her car and drives 30 minutes to Hamilton College; Colgate does not provide transportation for her to attend class, nor is she compensated for gas. While the trip to Hamilton is time-consuming, Kate explained that she doesn’t mind, as she does not have any other classes on those days. 

Kate explained that the course at Hamilton is significantly harder than the Chinese language courses she has taken at Colgate. 

“It’s just a different structure than what I’m used to,” Partridge said, “We’re reading Classical Chinese Literature. I also have a few native speakers in my class, which I’ve never really had at Colgate.”

Despite the challenging material, Kate explained that she has been enjoying the experience and everyone at Hamilton has been very welcoming and friendly, including her classmates. 

“It’s weird being a senior and having to walk around with a campus map and ask campus safety for help,” Kate said. “Everyone there is shocked when I tell them that I go to Colgate.”

The professor of the course has been especially impressed with the work that Kate has put in to be able to succeed, as have her parents. 

“My parents are also so proud of me,” Kate said. “This is a big commitment and feat and they’re just stoked that I’m doing this.”

Kate hopes to be able to use the Chinese language in her future career, ideally in the business world. 

“I can’t say that I’m fluent, especially in a business setting,” Kate said, “But if I got an international marketing job or something, hopefully, I could communicate better and make people feel comfortable.”

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About the Contributor
Amy Grunther, Baker's Dozen Editor
Amy Grunther is a senior from North Caldwell, NJ concentrating in political science and minoring in English. She has previously served as a staff writer for the Commentary section. On campus, Amy is involved with the Swinging Gates as both a member and the Publicity Chair.

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