Thomas Lein has his sights set on medical school. But before launching into an MD program, the senior, who is studying biochemistry and Chinese, jumped at the opportunity to explore his interests outside the sciences.
Last academic year, Lein participated in the Chinese Language Flagship Program in Nanjing, China. This program, initiated by the the U.S. government, offers students the opportunity to gain additional training in a language and international experience in their field of study. Lein used this program to advance his language skills, but also his interest in medicine. While in China, he took histopathology and molecular etiology courses at Nanjing University, as well as working at the Radiology Department of Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital. We caught up with Lein to hear more about his time abroad, his interest in the Chinese language and his future aspirations.
What intrigued you about this program?
It more or less fell into my lap. I was taking Chinese when the University was selected for the flagship program. I decided to give it a shot despite a slightly delayed start because it gave me the opportunity to continue improving my Chinese and travel abroad. Part of what kept me with the program was that it offered real-world experience and applications for my Chinese. For example, by working at an internship during my time abroad as well as dealing with everyday life such as paying rent and bills.
What was the hardest part of your experience in the program?
It was a lot of work and a lot of stress. But that was also the best part because of the connections I made with others in the program.
What advice do you have for other CBS students who might be interested in the CLFP?
They should start language classes early. It was good that I started in high school. Also, they should work hard and keep up their GPA because that is also important for the selection process.
What are your career aspirations? Why do you want to pursue this career field?
My aspiration right now is medical school, but before that I would like to work in the medical industry or in China for a few years in order to continue to use and improve my Chinese. At first, Chinese was just something that I found interesting. But this program helped me realize how I can apply it in a career and establish connections for whatever I do moving forward. By interning in a radiology department in China I now have actual experience. Not only did I learn a lot about myself and the medical field in China, but I also made valuable connections that I can use as a starting point for a career.