Well, this is it, graduation day.
Tomorrow at this time I will be waiting at the Beijing international airport for my 12 hour flight to North America. However cliché it sounds, when I think about meeting my parents in the States, I feel like it was last week that they dropped me off teary eyed. I cant believe how much I've grown in just one semester. I have learned so much about China, about people, culture, language and about myself. But I’m not the only one who grew in China, and I figured that you guys have heard a lot from me over the past four months, so I took the liberty of interviewing some of my friends from IES so that you might hear from them about what they think.
Here’s what they had to say:
John, our RA said "I’d take my friends and family to a small dirty restaurant where everyone knows my name, showcase the humanity and particular Chinese flavor of city."
All of our Workout Club friends
Ashton said about his first impression of China that "I felt like I was before a giant door, the doors were wide open but I had no idea how to walk through."
Trevor said that his first impression was that he was "Really scared, really excited, really more scared especially when I on right on the plane. I remember seeing all the Chinese people speaking Chinese and I thought, “what am I doing?”"
Danny and Trevor last week at the Old Summer Palace making last minute memories
James summed up his trip by saying "The hostel that we stayed at tiger leaping gorge because it was definitely not 5 star quality and using the bathroom in a trench was an experience, and in the shadow of Tiger Leaping Gorge, but also being in the middle of nowhere with no plumbing because it was uncomfortable and cold but also so rewarding because we were all there, I did it and it changed my life."
Izzy said, "I would being my parents to Tiger Leaping gorge and I would want to tour them around the 北外 [Beijing Foreign University] area to show them what I’ve been doing this whole time, and to that place we stayed at at 长城 [the Great Wall] because that was a trip and a half."
Zheng He (Chris) said he would revisit the Dali bike ride with his family and friends if they ever came to China
From the Summit of Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan, a feat which I am proud to have been able to accomplish with my friends at IES
Caroline's first thoughts coming to China were, "What the... I have to put the toilet paper in the trashcan? Why does my BLT taste like a bun with raw meat in it?"
Our RA, Mykhanh left us with these words of advice, "加油" which is how the Chinese say "you've got this!"
Suzanna said she would take family and friends "To the park where there was lots of dancing and music because I think that culture is very different from what most Americans expect. I like that people are able to have a good time playing outside and that people have a completely different perception of self-conception, in America people are very self-conscious, and that doesn’t exist here.
Jeff's first thoughts coming to China were "That it felt bizarrely familiar and incredibly different at the same time, a little bit like wandering through a dream copy of your house but the rooms are all painted a different color.
Ashton, Jeff and Paul during their skit in our Language Competition
Jackie said, "I met so many really cool people here and I love them and we’re really close now so I’m really happy."
Anh put it, "In sum, I think that I have learned to love and appreciate not only my experience in China but also China as a country."
Vicki said "I came here to learn Chinese and while doing so I also learned so much about the culture and lifestyle of the Chinese people."
When I asked Danny to tell me one line about China, he told me, "I think I belong here."
Group Hug during tonight's graduation ceremony
Finally, all Olivia had to say was, "Beijing is the best, everyone should study abroad in China, everyone should study with IES in Beijing- why are you not filling out your application now? Go do it."
You'll think that some of these responses seem negative, but I promise, that studying abroad in Beijing is nothing like studying in any other country. We worked hard, ate greasy food, gained weight, used trenches as bathrooms, climbed mountains, spoke only Chinese for 24 hours a day, took quizzes every day on 40-80 new vocab words, and for most of us, functioned on the complete opposite side of the world from our loved ones. And our experiences here have been nothing short of breath taking. Those quizzes us had every day made us hard workers and good studiers. Speaking Chinese 24/7 made our speaking and listening comprehension skills spike rapidly, climbing mountains and being uncomfortable made us realize that we had stepped out of our privelaged comfort zone. We got to really experience China and each of us have grown to love it dearly. Izzy's motto is "never 舒服, but always 好玩儿.” [never comfortable, but always fun]
The Chinese really value the idea of "soil", something I learned in sociology class. That concept is that ones hometown is their soil, and one only travels and lives where they have soil already in the ground. As study abroad students, we have our own concept of soil; instead of remaining rooted where we are comfortable and safe, we pack up our soil and we spread it all over this Earth. We have then created new connections, new homes... we gave "soil" to each of our new friends by offering a place to stay and a meal if they were ever in the area. We are explorers, we strive to connect people by crossing barriers and stepping out of our comfort zone. We said goodbye tonight to many of our friends and now we all go back to our own homes; but not for good... we've got soil to spread.
And that's what I've got to say about it.
Thank you, Beijing.
My class with our teacher and the IES Beijing Program director-- I will miss everyone dearly
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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>