How do you expect me to sum up four months of amazing life changing experiences in China in one blog post?
Putting off this final blog post is kind of like putting off the end of my trip. Right now everyone from my trip is scattered all over the world. Many people took the time to travel after our semester ended, some people met up with their families, others went home to meet their families in the airport. There were many tears, and it’s hard to leave your best friends of the last four months and return home. No more chopsticks, no more weird looking toilets or fresh steamed dumplings. Reverse culture shock didn’t hit me as hard as it could have, but every now and then I get these pangs of nostalgia for China… and it’s only been a week since I’ve been back!
Jetlag… now there’s a worthy opponent. Forks were easy enough to relearn coming home, but fighting jetlag took about a week for me. What I recommend is drinking a lot of water, even if you have to go to the bathroom 12 times on the plane. Water will help your body fight jetlag, especially if your jetlag is 12 hours like mine was. Another thing that helped me adjust quicker was not sleeping on the plane. Getting a head start on American time definitely helped me sleep through that first night in my own bed.
Honestly, being home and seeing my family and my friends makes me feel like I never left. There’s this big chunk of time missing, but I feel like nothing has changed, my bed is still the way I left it, and my friends and family are still basically the same (maybe a bit taller now). It was a weird sensation to feel like I’ve been at home the whole time, and yet, I have these incredible memories that strike me every day, like the feeling of summiting the Great Wall, or the littlest things like tapping my chopsticks on my plate to even them out. I came home to wonderful people and a full schedule, which also helped the adjustment. No sitting around bored out of my mind! The first time I was just the only one home, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Making lists of things to do helps for all that downtime I will have before my summer job starts….
Everything is starting to sound mundane compared to my life in Beijing, and I’ve already started saying, “Well when I was in China…”. Nothing will ever compare to studying abroad and actually getting the chance to live in a place like China, not just go to visit. My dad likes to say “you can never step in the same river twice”, meaning that no matter how hard you try, nothing you try to replicate will ever be the same. So with that advice, I will cherish these memories, and instead of trying to recreate them, I plan on making new ones in new places. Using the experiences that I have acquired in Beijing, I will become a better person, one more equipped to deal with this world, I will become a traveler, someone who can see the beauty in other cultures, and someone who can help other people see it as well.
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<p>My name is Claire Vodicka and I travel to learn language and culture and grow as a person. I currently speak English, Spanish and Chinese, with a little bit of Italian on the side. I love to take pictures, especially of people; capturing their true emotions in the moment. I'm just enjoying my time in college and documenting every opportunity I have been blessed with.</p>