Saturday, Feb 21st 2015.
At this very moment, the majority of my friends are holed up in a library 3 hours away from me in hopes of lessening the veritable tidal wave of stress that spring semester mid-sems will cruelly and predictably deliver. My remaining friends (those studying abroad this semester) have already flooded social media with pictures of their foreign adventures, posts about their newfound cultural awareness and appreciations, and blogs pertaining to their life-changing experiences. However, unlike any of them, I am listening to Crystal Castles and typing a blog post in a cozy coffee shop in my Siberian wind-whipped Northern Iowan hometown while counting the days until my study-abroad experience can finally begin.
My name is Adam Dalton and I am a third-year student at Grinnell College who is double majoring in Economics and Chinese Studies and is participating in the IES Shanghai: 21st Century China program. I have never travelled outside of the United States and have also never lived in a city with more than 30,000 residents so I am understandably both excited and nervous for my upcoming study-abroad experience (starting Feb. 26th 2015). However, I am not here to today to talk about my feelings (that will come later), I want to let everyone know about the distinct advantages and disadvantages to participating in a study-abroad program which starts “relatively late” in the spring semester….
I was able to have experiences during the school year which I never previously considered feasible. For example, I was able to hang out in Grinnell College’s library and watch the newest seasons of Parks and Recreation and South Park juxtaposed amongst my stressed friends who would occasionally give me looks stating “you are just the worst”. I was also able to enjoy the freedom that not taking classes affords. This freedom was especially apparent when I took a week-long trip to Denver, CO to reconnect with some of my alumni friends I had not seen in nearly a year or when I self-produced and released a full-length electronic music album just because I had enough time to do so. Finally, I was able to expand my horizons by reading about academic topics which I had not had time to previously explore due to other academic commitments which college threw at me.
I have had to endure the harsh Iowa winter for a longer amount of time; for anyone who has experienced a Northern-Midwestern winter this reason is fairly self-explanatory (for everyone who hasn’t experienced a Northern winter, just imagine the worst winter you have ever experienced and imagine that winter being twice as long and twice as cold as you have experienced; then you’ll probably have a somewhat accurate depiction of a Northern winter). Secondly, everyone I see constantly asks me, “Wait, aren’t you supposed to be abroad right now?” to which I respond jokingly with a, “Wow, glad to see you too…”. Finally, an unexpected and unfortunate phenomena has occurred in my life, although I thought I would never be saying this I’ll admit that after having not taken academic classes for almost 3 months I am seriously missing academics and can’t wait for the opportunity to take classes as soon as possible; I’m such a nerd.
The next time you’ll hear from me I will be travelling in the great nation of China and riffing on all of the adventures and situations I find myself in. Until then, I wish you all the best and hope (through my travels and writing) to keep you entertained and informed in the following months.
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<div>My Name is Adam Dalton and I am currently a junior at Grinnell College majoring in Economics and Chinese Studies. I am originally from Mason City, IA and will be studying abroad in Shanghai with IES Shanghai next semester. Aside from academics, my interests including playing guitar, enjoying the great outdoors and running (I am a member of Grinnell's T&F and XC teams). </div>