Zai jian, Beijing

Just as quickly as my trip to China started, it ended and my daily life rapidly moved on as if I’d never left.  Friends and family remain the same but I feel so altered. 

China was not my first choice of places to study abroad. I’d always wanted to spend a whole Spring semester trekking through Europe, seeing all the varying architecture and learning about its vast history.  So when the opportunity to go to China came to me, I actually didn’t want to go.  I thought I was settling on what I had envisioned for myself.  But after I thought about it, I realized I was afraid: afraid of a culture so different from my own, afraid of the communication barriers, and afraid to try something new.  So I spent months convincing myself that it would be worth it and that I would regret it if I didn’t go.  I’m glad I stuck with the trip despite my doubts and worries.  It will forever remain on my list of the best things I’ve ever done.  I feel as if I could take on the whole world  and I definitely have wanderlust now! 

I feel a great sense of peace after going to China.  I know while I was there I made mistakes but I feel like I’ve learned from them and I can appreciate what they taught me about people in general.  The truth is, Westerners are not superior or inferior to non-Westerners.  And really, Americans and Chinese are not so different at their core; we both have a great sense of resilience, which I respect immensely.  

I’m not sure I have all the right words to explain what I learned in China so I guess I’ll stop trying but I can say with 100% certainty that I will return.  It sounds mushy, but it’s true…a piece of my heart will always remain in China.


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