I’m going to China again through NSLI-Y, this time for a year with AFS. I don’t know too many details yet (as usual), but I do know that I’ll be living in Changzhou in the Jiangsu Province of China from August until next June. From doing some research on Changzhou, I know its part of the Yangtze River Delta, an affluent area around Shanghai, and its not too far from Shanghai, Jiaxing (where I was last summer), Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Nanjing. Its roughly the same size as Jiaxing, maybe a little bigger. Its an incredible business city with a strong economy and is known as an industrial center for textiles, engineering, and technology. I also found out it has a Dinosaur Park and a large Buddhist temple called Tianning Temple, and is noted for its combs. I believe I will be studying at Changzhou Senior High School.
At first, I was really nervous about living in China for a year, but now I’m really excited. I don’t know what to expect, and I hope I have a good host family. Some of my friends from last summer also got accepted to the year program, but they’ll be living in bigger cities with different implementing organizations. Originally, I wanted to be placed in a big, major city like Beijing or Shanghai, but now I’m glad I’ll be in Changzhou. I think I’ll be able to become more familiar with the city and learn more Chinese, since there will likely be less foreigners.
Fears for next year:
- Not getting along with my host family
- Not being friends with the other NSLI-Y kids
- Being behind everyone else in my language skills
- Feeling lonely, awkward, or homesick
- Losing touch with my friends in America
Excitements for next year:
- Having a crazy, once-in-a-lifetime experience
- Exploring a new city & culture
- Making new friends & family
- Seeing awesome sights
- Learning Chinese & (hopefully) becoming proficient
- Experiencing Chinese holidays & festivals
- All the unforeseen adventures
I’m anxious and nervous and have a lot to do before I leave, but overall I’m excited. I feel like the goods outweigh the bads, but at the same time, I’m trying not to have unrealistic expectations for what my year will be like. I know I can’t expect the whole year to be nothing but happy feelings and fun. It will be difficult and challenging, and sometimes I’ll feel lonely and homesick, but as long as I don’t dwell on the negative aspects, I’ll be fine. My departure for China feels so far-off, even though its less than two months away, and I find myself thinking more and more about what its going to be like. I really just can’t wait to find out more information and leave already!