I went to JC Penny’s today to buy some tank tops for Beijing, because it’s gonna be 80 degrees and muggy every day there. When I was checking-out, the cashier asked me about my summer plans, and when I told her I was going to China she replied, “China?! You better be careful there. You don’t want to disappear to some labor camp!” I guess my reaction gave away the fact that I didn’t quite follow her, because next she responded with “China, they’re like North Korea, right?”
I hope for this blog to help out people like that cashier—and I don’t mean that in a condescending way. I think a lot of Americans, and people all around the world, but mostly Americans, have a very uncertain idea about China, and usually what they come up with are scenes from Orwellian dystopias instead of anything based on truth. I hope to show the reader a very real depiction of China through relating my experiences abroad this summer.
China is a very singular place, and on purpose. China has been kept closed off from the western world by its rulers since the first time the two hemispheres made contact. Because of this, Chinese culture was seeped in itself for thousands of years, with very little outside influence, until its doors were finally forced open to the west in the late 19th century. China’s communist party took control in 1949, and soon after they closed off China once again to most of the western world. It wasn’t until very recently, in the late 1970s, that we began to have the access to China that we do today. Certainly, this is why there are fewer westerners who understand China than there are those that do.
So don’t feel bad if you’ve ever thought of China as a scary place. This blog will open your eyes to a world that’s home to more than 1 billion people, whose everyday lives are not that dissimilar to yours.
This will be my second time studying with IES Abroad at Beijing Foreign Studies University. Last time I studied with them, I stayed for the whole Fall 2015 semester, so this will be like Fall Semester: Part Two for me. I will be posting at least one time every week for my 60 days there, and then submit a final entry after I’ve returned to The States. I really hope to touch a lot of people’s lives with this information and if you have any questions or comments about my experiences, feel free to e-mail them to me with the subject “Blog” and I’ll try to include them in the posts.
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<p>Louis is a Junior at Penn State studying Chinese and Political Science. He has traveled outside the US many times and enjoys writing about his personal struggles and triumphs abroad. Louis hopes that through reading his blog posts, readers can catch a much more raw and personal glimpse of foreign cultures than anything they can get from a classroom or watching TV. <em>Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.</em></p>