2020 is here, and while I spent my NYE vicariously living through my friends’ celebration in Shanghai, I reflected on the year gone by. For me, 2019 was the year of China - the year of living abroad, of newfound independence, and self-exploration. Upon arrival at the IES Center in Shanghai, the wonderful staff members asked us what our goals were for the semester. For most of us, we wanted to improve our Chinese and gain a deeper understanding of China. Those goals were important and I’ve since grown fond of goal-setting. Especially spending the first half of my senior year abroad, I often feel as though I’m looking over an abyss. The future is ahead of me and I’ll soon have to start setting my own path paved by my own ambition, no longer solely relying on what my parents or school expect from me.
Before this post gets too cheesy, I’ll give a recap of China 2019. Here are my top 3 most memorable moments.
- Last semester I woke up at sunrise surrounded by friends on the rooftop of our hotel in Dali, Yunnan. It was my first time out of Shanghai and into the countryside. It was the first time in 3 months I had seen the sunrise and had breathed such clean air. It was a spectacular sight.
- This November, IES took us on an excursion to Taiwan. Before going, I never expected there to be such a massive difference between Taiwan and the mainland. The histories of both places are totally different- Taiwan’s history being marked by Japanese colonialism and a greater preservation of “traditional” Chinese culture. The people were extremely kind and friendly, and I ate some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life (Taiwanese braised beef noodle soup, braised pork rice, and some killer ramen). My friends and I took a tour of Taiwan’s northern coast and despite the torrential rain that day, we had an unforgettable time.
- Going to Inner Mongolia alone proved to be one of the most awe-inspiring moments of my life. Thanks to my IES professor, he encouraged me to do research in the area regarding desertification. This was the first time I really travelled alone in China. Despite it being my last month in China, it was as though my whole experience had led me to this point of independence. I felt liberated, confident. Finally my chinese was good enough to get me around. I felt like I had made it, my goals fulfilled.
My advice to everyone reading this and to those who have followed my blog in China is this: Make 2020 a year of adventure. Get out of your comfort zone and run towards the unknown. I never thought I would spend a year of my life in such a foreign and far away country, and the results have been life changing.
A big thank you to all my professors, language teachers, and staff members at IES Shanghai for making me and my classmates feel safe and at home in China. To have such wonderful adults teach and guide us abroad has made us more mature and thoughtful people, and for that I’ll always be grateful. I’m hoping China will also be in my plans for 2020....along with many more great adventures!
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<p>I'm Micol and I'm a fourth year student at Providence College studying Political Science and East Asian Studies. I am fascinated with Chinese culture and politics, which has led me to come back for a second semester in Shanghai. My favorite things to do in Shanghai are going to art galleries, eating at one of the million cute dessert shops, going to karaoke, reading about Chinese Marxism, and waking up to a day with blue sky.</p>