Arriving in Beijing…
2 flights and 18 hours later and we are landing in Beijing, China on a Saturday morning! I’m carrying a 30lb backpack and two additional pieces of luggage through the huge airport to find the FIU staff awaiting our arrival & welcoming us to China. We took a shuttle to Tianjin that took about 2 and a half hours and finally we arrive to our dorms.
When we walked into our dorms my first thought was that the appearance was a little off than I was originally expecting, the rooms were a bit bigger than it seemed in a picture I had seen but the room was also in need of some maintenance (as well as the rest of the FIU building I must admit). The next day we went to a store called “Metro” which is similar to a Costco; we bought everything you can possibly need such as towels, toilet paper, bed sheets, cleaning supplies, washing detergent, etc.
On Tuesday morning I started class! I was so nervous to feel like the outsider in class but the professors and students make you feel comfortable. The Chinese students are very shy at first but they all want to be your friend and be helpful in any way possible – they are truly amazing. Learning in this environment is slightly different than in FIU back in Miami but it gives us an insight on the Chinese culture and their way of being.
I have already made so many Chinese friends that help with absolutely anything you can possibly need; They help us order food, call a taxi, order things online from their form of Amazon.com, take us out to local restaurants, etc. The language barrier would have to be the most difficult part of the experience for me so far, so if you ever decide to visit China, try to learn some basics! Now that I’ve been here for 3 weeks, I know some basic words and it is helpful.
As a group (the American FIU students) have already visited Shanghai and Beijing within our time here in China. I am absolutely loving China and the culture it has to offer. One thing that has been great as well is how close our group has gotten. 3 of the American students’ birthdays have been here and we have all celebrated together for them, we’ve had a spa night in one of our dorms, we always have lunch and dinner together, and just help each other out in general. Good friends will come from this trip.
Does it get tough sometimes? Well yes! Simply because of the differences in lifestyle and customs that we have, but it is all part of the learning experience and trying to immerse yourself in other cultures. I’ve been here for 3 weeks and not once have I had a regret about coming; you just have to adapt to your surroundings.
Overall, I feel that I am learning so much both in and out of the classroom and I appreciate the differences because it makes me more appreciative of some things we have back home, as well as culturally acceptable. The best advice I can give is to not compare them; China and the US are very different and that is not necessarily a bad thing. You just have to stay open-minded and optimistic through your journey in this exotic country.
– Jenny –