Elyssa Evans said she remembers feeling homesick just once — the moment she stepped out of the airport and into Shanghai, China.
It was 3 a.m. The city stretched out before her. Its population of 14.34 million, compared to Fort Collins’ 152,061, overwhelmed Evans. As she breathed in the humid, polluted air — “It really is as bad as you hear,” she said — her heart sighed at the swarms of people in front of her. She missed the familiarity of Colorado.
The next day, the first of her six weeks studying abroad in China in 2014, was different, she said. The newness excited her, and she looked for ways to embrace the culture around her. She said she explored shops, conversed with locals in Mandarin and did everything she could to “live the daily life.”
This summer, she plans to continue the experience. Evans, a junior studying graphic design and electronic art at Colorado State University, accepted an internship in Hangzhou, China. She will work for NetEase, a Chinese-based internet company that, “pioneered the development of applications, services and other technologies for the Internet in China,” according to their website.
Evans said she will work with the user-experience and user-interface (UX/UI) design department to improve the company’s mobile games. More specifically, she said she will ensure that the graphics and game interface will make sense to users.
According to the company’s website, NetEase partners with Blizzard Entertainment to license World of Warcraft in China. NetEase also produces Fantasy Westward Journey, Heroes of Tang Dynasty, Datang, Ghost, Soul of the Fighter and other games.
Evans was born in Canada, but her family moved to Colorado when she was young. She said that her parents’ willingness to travel gave her the motivation to visit new places. Their example, in addition to her first trip to China, prompted her to apply for the internship.
She said that, after looking at employment listings online, she applied to several different jobs, most of which were in the U.S.
“At first, this was just another thing I was applying for,” Evans said. “There were a lot. After a few interviews, they told me I was accepted, and I realized that I could actually be going to China again.”
She said she believes her knowledge of Mandarin, which she has studied for the past eight years, made her more marketable to NetEase. Even though the internship will be in English, Evans said that she feels comforted by her language ability.
“I started taking Mandarin in high school to fulfill a language requirement and because it seemed more interesting than the other language options,” Evans said. “When I came to CSU, I wanted to keep taking classes because I had already spent so much time on it. It’s just one of the other passions that I picked up.”
Evans said that she hopes to improve her Mandarin over the summer.
“I think it will be a great opportunity to get better,” Evans said. “I’m in my last class to fulfill minor requirements, and I kind of feel like I’ve hit a wall.”
Despite her excitement for the opportunity, Evans said she is nervous about adjusting to the culture. She said she will live in the company’s dormitories, a common place for expats to stay.
She said she is uncertain about basic cultural norms, such as dress code and the length of a typical work day.
“This is an internship, so I want to do well for the people I’m working with,” Evans said. “I’m nervous about that. I don’t want to just stumble in and make a fool of myself in front of the people I’m working for.”
However, Evans said that her experience in CSU’s art department has prepared her for the professional side of the internship. Her classes teach her how to program, code websites and create visuals in Adobe Suite products. Evans is currently working on one her favorite class projects — she is designing an interactive website.
Images courtesy of Elyssa Evans. More of her work can be found at elyssaevans.wordpress.com.
“I love working with interactivity,” Evans said about her work. “That’s exactly what I’ll be doing. It’s quite a process, and I tend to get over-excited with ideas for it. I get myself into a lot of work, but it’s worth it.”
According to CSU’s institutional research, 2015 was the first year any students graduated with a concentration in electronic art.
“CSU’s program focuses on experimental video and animation techniques, net art and using software as a medium for creative output,” the department website states.
Although the program is new, Cameron Kinchen, a senior art major and Evans’ classmate, said that it has prepared him for career opportunities. He currently works for CSU athletics’ marketing department, and he said he can see himself working for a major sports franchise in the future.
“These classes have prepared me for projects I might experience once I graduate and what thought processes I should think about when creating future projects,” Kinchen said. “(They) have brought my attention to design trends and social issues that are currently happening in today’s society — may that be poster design or a massive projection installation found in a gallery.”
Beyond classes, Evans works for the college of natural resources, where she designs their website. She also volunteers with the CSU Chinese club, creating posters and T-shirts for them.
Evans said she is eager to see what prospects will arise after graduating from CSU. She said she hopes to find a job related to design, but she is flexible with that will entail.
“This might seem too cliché, but I hope to get out of Colorado,” Evans said. “I’d like to spend some time living abroad, because I’m passionate about that, but I don’t know when that will be or where it will be. I’m up for whatever.”
Collegian A&C editor Hannah Ditzenberger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @h_ditzenberger.