It’s not my first rodeo or time in China. You could say I am familiar with China, as I have gone back twice, once when I was 10 and then 16, however planning on studying there for four months is a whole new ball game. I was born in China and adopted when I was five months old. I’ve spent 20 years in Houston, Texas, growing up singing Christmas carols, eating hamburgers, and having second helpings of grits, which is a South Texas thing.
Knowing the culture and the rights and wrongs of a country is very important. As someone who looks Chinese, I have to make the choice of how “American” I want to present myself before I even step into the country. Is carrying around an American flag and wearing shirts that say “I am an American” too much? Or should I try to blend in, relying solely on how I look? I might not be able to talk as fast as a native, but hey, if they can understand about 50% of the broken Chinese that comes out of my mouth, I’m in the clear! I am currently making a list of all the key words I need to be able to say correctly in China, words such as bathroom, help me, I feel sick, I am lost, and hello (because 你好 was the first word I learned in my beginning Chinese class).
I am planning on taking the subtle approach, trying to blend in with the culture as to be respectful but also acknowledging that I am an American. In my past trips to China, this strategy worked. Blending in was easy. The Chinese natives wanted to take pictures of the people who they thought looked like the typical “American,” people with blonde hair and blue eyes. None of the Chinese wanted to take pictures of me (and I thought I was special)! I blended in so well in China that when I was 10 that people on the street came up to me and spoke Chinese. I had no idea what they were saying at the time, so I stayed silent. When I was 16, a security guard questioned me in Chinese, and continued to raise his voice and speak faster and faster. I had no idea what he was saying, and thankfully my Chinese teacher came to my aid and answered his question.
So why China again? Why Beijing and not someplace completely different, a place that I have never been to? I know in other places, not being able to speak and understand Chinese wouldn’t be such a big deal (no one expects me to speak Chinese in Texas). Going back to China means opening up a chapter in life life I had closed when I came to America. It’s a part of me that hasn’t been explored yet as I have adopted the “American” way of life. Even though it might be a challenge for me, I hope to prefect my Chinese or at least sound less robotic when I speak. I hope to get a taste of the culture, and to have a new appreciation for where I came from. I know four months is too short of a time to experience a miracle, but I’m excited for the possibilities that are ahead!
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<p>Hey everyone! I’m a junior and I currently attend Trinity University, a small school in San Antonio, Texas. I consider myself a sociologist in training, and I’m interested in learning and experiencing new cultures! This blog depicts my experiences in China, specifically Beijing, China’s capital city, a long way from home! Hope you enjoy and feel free to comment!</p>