Katie McCabe had never taken a Chi­nese class — had never even left the country — before Jan­uary. But that didn’t stop her from walking into Northeastern’s inter­na­tional co-​​op office last year, and it cer­tainly didn’t keep her from moving to Shanghai, China.

My goal from the start was to gain a more inter­na­tional per­spec­tive, so immersing myself into an extremely dif­ferent cul­ture was exactly what I wanted to do,” said McCabe, a fourth-​​year com­mu­ni­ca­tion studies major cur­rently on co-​​op with the Crowne Plaza Shanghai Harbor City.

The Crowne Plaza hotel is at the center of a new Shanghai devel­op­ment that will one day house more than 800,000 people.

For her, Shanghai — China’s eco­nomic epi­center — seemed like the per­fect place to explore career options. China, she pointed out, is still con­sid­ered part of the “devel­oping” world with rapid shifts in both economy and population.

The five-​​star hotel is the cen­ter­piece of, a new planned devel­op­ment, which may hold nearly a mil­lion res­i­dents and is located in Lin­gang New City, slightly out­side of Shanghai. Com­mu­nity devel­opers are racing to com­plete the city to accom­mo­date the rapidly increasing pop­u­la­tion in and around Shanghai.

Not counting a few senior man­agers, most of the hotel’s employees speak little to no Eng­lish; as a result, McCabe is the pri­mary point of con­tact for most of the hotel’s English-​​speaking guests.

She has a desk at the hotel, but she doesn’t use it much. When she isn’t working with guests, she’s helping col­leagues write in Eng­lish, who, in turn, teach her Chinese.

My co-​​workers are truly some of the nicest people I have ever met, and I have gotten to know who they are really well,” McCabe said. “They have given me a new per­spec­tive on how to com­mu­ni­cate with people and insight on the Chi­nese way of thinking.”

The experiential-​​learning oppor­tu­nity in China has already changed how McCabe thinks about her final semes­ters at North­eastern and her career after grad­u­a­tion. She’s already enrolled in Chi­nese classes, which she will take upon her return to campus with the hope of becoming fluent in a second language.

And on top of her new inter­na­tional expe­ri­ence in the hos­pi­tality industry, McCabe said her job came with one unpar­al­leled perk: “Who,” she asked, “would pass up the oppor­tu­nity to live in a brand-​​new five-​​star resort for six months?”