7000 Miles, 3 Countries, 2 Suitcases: The Classroom of Everywhere

Posted By Raphael Wang on June 26, 2015

Nanjing, China
Nanjing, to me, is my birth place, hometown, and the most beautiful place in the world. It has been the capital city for more than 8 ancient Chinese dynasties. I had a very average but happy childhood. Since I am from such an historical town, I had the opportunity to interact with a lot of Chinese cultures and traditions.

Boat Ride

My favorite activity in the city is to have a night boat ride on Qinghuai river, which runs through the city. I still remember this kind of perfect night: The boatman greeted us. And three to five chinese girls showed up with their red cheongsam on. They had woody meal boxes and red lanterns hung on their arms. They sang for us while we were watching the buddhistic temples, remained city walls, and street artists along the river.

I was also lucky enough to have a group of very close friends growing up with me. Since everyone of us is the only child at home, we are more like siblings. We always lived in the same neighborhood and went to the same schools together. While we were growing up, China was experiencing the fastest economic growth ever. We enjoyed more and more shopping malls, restaurants, bars and cinemas built between the city’s historical sites. I also clearly remember seeing gradually increasing foreign influences coming in my city—more and more businessmen and students with different colors, English menus becoming available in local eateries, increasing Western style cafes and clubs—and, in 2014, Nanjing hosted the 2nd Youth Olympic Games.

Even though Nanjing was becoming more and more international, I never thought about leaving it until my friends went abroad for college. With the increasing population of international students in Nanjing and my closest friends studying in foreign countries, I realized that college is not just another level of education, it should also be an opportunity to explore all my possibilities.  

Duel image


Packing Light
I finally chose to transfer to Indiana University due to the developed international programs,  high business school ranking, and the great diversity it has. After I booked my flight to the U.S., I learned I only can bring one suitcase. I looked around my room–tons of clothes for different seasons, shoes, books, bedding, rock CDs, anime action figures & toys–there’s no way I can pack up all these in one bag!

I opened my laptop and literally typed in “the right way to pack up clothes”. After I learnt from the online videos, I stuffed 40+ pieces of clothes and 5 pairs of shoes in the bag. I felt really fulfilled and after that, I started liking this minimized life.

At IU, I am studying Marketing, Sales and International Business. I believe this combination will allow me to do more with my interest in multicultural advertising, to tailor international firms’ marketing efforts for a new market with a new culture. I remember that day when my professor told the class marketing communication should always start with understanding your audience and filling in their needs, I suddenly realized this philosophy will allow me to cross the border of cultures and connect with people from diverse backgrounds. And it is exactly what my traveling experience taught me too.

Karma Agency
After I found my passion in advertising and marketing communications in class, I was looking for an agency internship that has the same passion. I tracked down Karma–another 700 miles away–after we critiqued a Wharton ad in class that I really admired. I packed up my life again, this time in two suitcases—I couldn't help myself getting more and more Nike shoes, Nirvana records and other things only available here–and flew to Philadelphia to join the Karma family in May. Everyone here embraced my special background. We chatted a lot about my experience in China and Indiana, as well as my study abroad plan to Brazil next semester.

I enjoy sharing my cultural experience at Karma. Marketing communication should always start with understanding the audience and filling in their needs. And I know traveling makes me become better at this; my suitcases are filled with more than just souvenirs from everywhere but also an empathy that allows me to across the border of cultures and connect with people from diverse backgrounds.

Karma Agency


The Next Adventure
My next destination is São Paulo, Brazil. Similar to China, with its upcoming Rio Olympics and unique place in Latin America, Brazil is one of the most important emerging markets in the world. I will be spending the rest of 2015 there with exchange students from all over the world. I am very excited about this next adventure and I know the world can teach me a lot more than book knowledge; the world is the best university that can help me see all the possibilities.

Raphael Wang is an account management intern and now a Kentucky Fried Chicken addict.