Ni Hao, Beijing!

I was giddy with excitement the entire plane ride from Newark, New Jersey to Beijing, China but not until I arrived did it finally hit me. I had the opportunity to experience a foreign culture once again, but this time be able to gain some work experience while doing so. I had already experienced China before, so my impression of the country was in line to what I remembered before- crowded, busy, yet incredibly friendly and inviting. However, Beijing is very much unlike Suzhou, in both size and style. Suzhou, China is quite modern, while Beijing remains somewhat focused on culture. Having the opportunity to visit the Great Wall, the lama temple, the summer palace, among many other culturally significant areas of China was enlightening for me. I thoroughly enjoyed my time living in China due in large part to how modern it had become, and Beijing has exposed me to another large part of China that I had not yet fallen in love with, but that rapidly changed.

An event that was particularly meaningful to me occurred while sitting down at the Lama Temple. A man walked up to a group to us and started speaking in Mandarin, eventually being translated by Grace in which she told us that he wanted to recite a poem that he created for us. He was an incredibly expressive man that obviously wanted to solely share his art form with us. He was in no rush to sell anything, seek help, or do anything malicious. He simply wanted to speak to us. That was very meaningful to me, given that I believe if I were to be in the United States an event like that would not occur, given the negative connotations that Americans associate with meeting random people. I believe that is a huge culture difference between the United States and China- in China, it is likely that people will not be afraid to converse with random people on the street, given that the vast majority of them do not have an ulterior motive. I find the biggest similarity to be patriotism. Chinese people are very proud of their countries long history, as Americans are of their own. This was most apparent to me in talking with our tour guide, noticing the way her eyes lit up when she spoke about her country.

Overall, I am ecstatic to finally be here and begin to get adjusted to the hustle and bustle of the city. I cannot wait for what is in store.


Fernando Spada

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