Well, after a crazy 11 months of traveling around East Asia, I am finally back in the US for the foreseeable future. It’s really weird how permanent it feels not knowing when my next traveling adventure will be. I foresee problems with serious boredom in the near future, as I have been adventuring and exploring for the last year, but am now at home with no major plans for the rest of the summer.
Maybe it’s just because my best friend is still in Japan for the rest of the summer, but I’ve not been home for a week and am already having trouble entertaining myself or finding motivation to go out (because really, why go out when the internet is so amazingly fast and unrestricted??). But seriously everything at home seems pretty boring and uninteresting compared to all of the different experiences I was having while abroad.
I’m also definitely missing being able to use Chinglish and having people around who get how funny I’m being. Because with Chinglish it’s all about choosing the right key words to say in Chinese. When studying abroad, you are more or less guaranteed a group of people who will understand the use of Chinglish and will be willing to use it as well. For example, this past semester I became very accustomed to saying “That’s so 麻烦“ (máfan - troublesome). It’s definitely a phrase that sounds a bit weird in English, but using the Chinese makes it surprisingly versatile. I’ve also found myself using Chinese words to describe things when I am struggling to find the correct English word. While in Shanghai, this wasn’t really an issue, as my friends usually knew what I was talking about, whereas here I just get weird looks from people. Really, it’s so 麻烦!
Shallow me is also not afraid to admit that I miss seeing so many cute Chinese guys every day. My hometown is crazy whitewashed, something that I didn’t really notice growing up, but has become painfully obvious since first going to college (which, to be honest, my school is also pretty whitewashed. We just have a fair amount of Hawaiian and Californian Asians) and then going abroad, where white people were the minority. Being back home makes me seriously miss seeing other Asian people, and Chinese guys tend to have good haircuts, which I also miss. I went downtown the other day and in the first ten minutes saw more men with long hair than I’ve seen in the last year. I was reminded why it’s not really my favorite look. Again, that’s the vain side of me speaking, but I can’t deny that it exists and has noticed the change.
What it all boils down to is the fact that I loved my study abroad experience. Of course there were days when it was hard or I missed home, or found myself annoyed with China. But when it comes to summarizing my time abroad, it is always the good times and fun memories that stand out in my mind. The challenges I faced and the stress that I felt all seem so insignificant in the big picture, which is why I will continue to plan and strive to return as soon as I can. I’m definitely grateful to my parents for supporting my decision to go abroad, even though it was for such a long time, and encourage anyone considering going abroad to consider it a little harder, because it’s a great experience and an invaluable time for personal growth.
Thanks for reading everyone! Good luck to you all, and until next time!
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<p>Hello! My name is Katie McGee, and I am a junior at the University of Puget Sound, located in Tacoma, WA. I am a Chinese major with a Japanese minor and a Global Development Studies emphasis. I am a Chinese adoptee, and although my parents did their best to expose me to Chinese culture as a child, I grew up in a community with very little diversity. I have devoted this year to traveling East Asia (South Korea, Taiwan, Mainland China, and Japan) and improving my Chinese along the way. I have already learned so much during my travels, but continue to look forward to what adventures lay ahead.</p>