I am not just a tourist visiting China; I am actually living in China until December. From the moment I stepped on China’s ground, it was officially time to kiss my old life goodbye. Everything that anyone told me, whether good or bad, no longer influenced my thoughts or expectations about China as I knew it was finally time for me to create my own experiences and stories. Even with all the preparations and research I did to ready myself, it only became real when I arrived.
The first thing that struck my curiosity about China was the people. It’s their eagerness, boldness, kindness, and contentment that immediately made me feel welcomed and strangely safe. It stems all the way from the little children, the students, the teachers, the canteen staff to the elderly. Can you imagine yourself hosting a group that speaks a totally different language? This is not a task anyone is easily willing to do but the Chinese students fully accepted us and made it their duty to assist us in whatever way we needed; no matter how little or how big, trust and believe me when I say they got it done for us. It reminds me of the show Paw Patrols when the pups say “No job is too big or no pup is too small.” Also, keep in mind I am speaking about students; they do not have to do this, but this just goes to show their drive to make you feel welcomed.
Where do I even begin with the other citizens of China I mentioned such as the little children, the canteen staff, and the elderly? It is fascinating to see them look at you like you are odd. It’s like a ‘WOW’ moment for them. So get ready because here they come!
They will either take out their phones and start recording or take pictures of you, or they are brave enough to walk up to you and touch your hair. I have long braids in my hair so it’s even more interesting to them. They want to touch my braids and take a closer look. Hearing about this was pretty weird, and I thought it was something I would not like; but to tell you the truth, I am honestly enjoying it and having so much fun.
As soon as I see the phones, I am ready to pose for a picture, no hesitation. I am famous in China; I am taking advantage while I have the opportunity. However, I can appreciate it because you can see the genuine amusement on their faces when they see us. It brings happiness to my heart knowing I can share this knowledge with them that there are other types of people in the world.
The teachers and students also made it their duty to learn another language, which is English, and they have this admirable desire to learn more of it. I must say I thought interacting with any Chinese citizen was going to be frustrating, but it is actually an enjoyable experience. Two different cultures are speaking to each other, they both hope each other can understand what they are saying but no one understands each other — isn’t that amazing? What a perfect opportunity to share, learn and help each other.
My friend and I always have a good laugh with the canteen staff when we are trying to order food. We cannot understand each other but a friendly relationship is forming. I am also trying to learn Mandarin. So far I can count from one to ten in Chinese, greet someone, and say I would like to have rice and chicken. Soon I will be participating in tutoring English to the freshman Chinese students, and I am filled with glee to begin.
It is only 3 weeks in, but I would encourage any student to grab this study abroad opportunity to study in China. It is only 3 weeks in, and I absolutely love China. It is only 3 weeks in, and I already put China as number 1 on my list of my favorite places I visited. It is only 3 weeks in, and I can say this is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Cultural experiences have a very funny way of scaring us, but it also has a very beautiful way of making us cherish the memories and friends.
Fun Fact: I cannot eat with chopsticks, but I only eat my meals with chopsticks.