Advice from alumni: Gina Chang
Gina Chang from Taiwan graduated from EF Academy New York in 2012 and from Michigan State University in 2015. After studying Media Information and working as an intern and apprentice in two prestigious positions in New York City, she moved to her home country where she decided to take a completely different career path. Read on to find out what Gina is doing now:
Full name: Gina Chang
Home country: Taiwan
Languages: Mandarin and English
EF Academy campus: New York
Program: IB Diploma
Grad year: 2012
Favorite clubs: Drama Club
Favorite subjects: Theater
University: Michigan State University, graduated December 2015 with a degree in Media Information
What was your first impression of EF Academy?
The campus was really beautiful and my first impression was that all of the teachers there were very nice and very passionate and so I felt comfortable there. There weren’t that many students in my year so I knew everyone including the faculty, staff and students. We got to know each other pretty quickly.
What did you enjoy about living in the residence?
You get to talk to people who are different from you. My first year, I had one roommate who was from Russia and the other one was from Norway. For me, that was very new because I had never met people from those places before. So it was very interesting. When you live together, you have a lot of time to talk about everything. I really enjoyed that because it was interesting to get to know people who are different.
What did you enjoy about the theater program?
I remember when we were choosing classes, I was deciding whether I should choose theater or if I should drop the art category and choose something else. I remember that moment and I asked Mrs. Borton about the theater class. I told her that I wasn’t an actress and that I was afraid of speaking in front of people, and she said that I could still choose her class so I thought I would give it a shot. That’s how I began theater.
In the first part of the year I was still trying to learn more about theater and trying to get out of my comfort zone because it was pretty terrifying to speak in front of people or even introduce myself. After a while, after I got to know my teacher and classmates, everything became really fun. I got to learn different things about theater, not just theory but also about plays and we got to see Broadway shows for free!
The Drama Club was even more fun because anyone could join the club and we would make crafts together and we met pretty much every day after school. Everyone became closer and closer and we were just like a big family. After a while, I liked theater because it was interesting, it was fun, and I liked the feeling of being part of a family. Another thing I enjoyed was that if you were in the theater program you had to act and you had to do one production behind the scenes. For acting, that was really terrifying for me because I had never acted before. In my year, we chose a really great script called “The Laramie Project” and that was a very powerful theater piece and movie. That was the first theater piece that I had ever acted in and it was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it a lot and that was one of my favorite productions that year. Another production I really enjoyed was Grease. We did that in my senior year and it was a big crew and we did a lot of stuff ourselves. Mrs. Borton and her husband helped us with the sets and costumes, and our biology teacher was our choreographer. We got to sing and we got to act. I was one of the dancers.
How did theater go together with your major?
When I was in university, I took a few subjects from the theater department and I did more acting and helped with some productions. That’s when I realized that there is a big gap between theater productions in university and in high school when it comes to the equipment and settings. The experience from high school helped me in those classes.
There is a connection between theater and my major, Media Information (TV and film production). In my junior and senior year at university, our school collaborated with M & Info and theater majors and they had their own script and actors and we made a film together. That was really amazing and a really great experience.
How would you describe your major?
My major was Media Information and my focus was TV and film production. I learned behind-the-scenes things like how to use cameras and editing and audio/lighting equipment, how to make a 10-minute interview, how to make a documentary and how to make a short film. The name of the program used to be “telecommunications” but they changed the name because it also included game design.
How did you choose your current university?
I was accepted to a couple universities and I didn’t really know where to go because I never had a chance to go to the school and see it for myself. I was talking about this with my math teacher and she said that she was from Michigan and went to Michigan State and she described the campus to me. My dad also wanted me to go to a bigger university because he believes that there are more opportunities there, so that’s how I chose Michigan State. I have to admit, I didn’t really like it my first year. It’s a college town and it’s in Michigan so it’s rural and I’m a city girl. It was very different. I started making friends and that made the difference. Then I started to get into football, a very traditional American college activity. Since I’ve graduated, I think back and I definitely don’t regret going there.
What are you doing now?
I moved back to Taiwan in October 2016. I work at a fitness studio as a personal trainer. But before I moved back to Taiwan I was in New York City for a while. I moved there in January after I graduated. I did a video internship for four months and then I was involved in concert production for another four months. The things I did in New York were more related to my major, but after I moved back to Taiwan I changed direction.
What is the accomplishment you are proudest of?
The time that I was in NY after I graduated – I did a lot in those 10 months. I did a lot of video things and I learned a lot about. I’m proud of everything I did during that time.
During the video internship I did for the first four months in New York, I helped with filming theater productions. And then after that I edited those footages. I edited probably at least six different shows. I really enjoyed it and I learned a lot about editing and I got to see free shows, so that was amazing.
Then I worked as an apprentice in concert production. I had interned with the organization the previous year and my boss called me back to offer me the apprenticeship. I was proud of that because I didn’t know much about concert production when I started – you start building a stage, then set the lights and speakers, and you help with loading and unloading. I learned a lot there too.
Last year, I got a really good opportunity from one of my friends. She was the stage manager in concert production and she emailed and said that they needed someone to shadow the assistant stage manager so they had a back-up. I did that and I learned the job of assistant stage management and I actually got to run the show a couple times. That’s originally what I really wanted to do after I graduated from high school so that was really that I got to do it and run the show with her.
What is your dream for your future?
For now, I would say that I want to become a really good personal trainer because that’s my job right now and I’m really passionate about it. I have a really good boss who is willing to teach me and help me along the way. I also like to exercise and work out so I think it’s already very good for me right now that I get to do a job that I enjoy. I want to keep improving to the point where I have my own students and I can help them achieve their goals and become a trainer that my students really like and enjoy working out with. Having a good job and performing well in that job is my main focus.
How did you change direction?
I started doing aerial yoga and I really, really liked it. Once I knew I was moving back to Taiwan, I started doing some research to see if there are any fitness studios that teach aerial yoga or something related to that activity. I found this studio and when I researched them I saw that they had aerial ballet training and it sounded so interesting. I asked them about it and it turns out they are two different exercises but at the time I thought they were somewhat similar. I did the teacher training and that’s how I met my boss. After arriving in Taiwan, I was lost for a little bit because I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do; I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay in video production or if I wanted to do theater production. I didn’t really have many connections in Taiwan because I spent most of the time in the U.S. and New York. It took me a little while to figure out what I wanted to do, or what I could actually do. I spent a lot of time going to classes, different workout classes. I had a lot of free time. I realized that I enjoyed exercise and working out and so I thought, what if I could find a job within the fitness field so that I can make some money and keep doing it.