While re-reading my travel journal from my experience last summer in China in preparation for my upcoming trip, I stumbled upon this section that I thought I’d share. It reminded me of why I love China so much, and got me super excited for my next adventure (which is 3 weeks away)!
“At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about China – I think I was so shocked by the cultural differences. But now, I am coming to really like China – now that I’ve gotten used to the squat toilets, crazy foods, and crowded streets. I really appreciate the differences. Asia is so different from America or Europe or the Caribbean, but I like it. I would definitely come back to China in the future. I’m so thankful that I got this opportunity to go far beyond my comfort zone and see and experience life from a totally different perspective. So many things are different about China. It can be quite confusing and uncomfortable, but as I’ve gotten to dive deeper into the culture and gotten to know the people, I like what I find, and it makes more sense. It’s definitely been challenging trying to adapt – challenging, but rewarding. Through the program so far, I’ve learned that I can be pushed beyond what I feel are my limits. There is always more to try and more to learn. It’s been very humbling. Coming here, I knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about the Chinese culture or way of life – not to mention the language! You can learn tons of things in history classes or listen to various stereotypes and generalizations, but until you experience it for yourself, you can’t ever grasp it. I’ve definitely been trying to live this trip with no regrets. I think that’s been the thing I’ve enjoyed the most about this trip. I don’t want to go home and regret not doing something when I had the chance. Coming in, I just expected to learn Chinese and maybe experience a new culture, but I’ve learned so much more than that. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been living in China for the last four weeks and I still have two more weeks to go. Two more weeks of chopsticks, sleeping on bamboo mats, mosquito nets, 100 degree weather, peeling fruit and missing ice cold drinks. Two more weeks of walking through ancient sites, bargaining for souvenirs, taking rickshaws to and from the open air market, and befriending taxi drivers. Two more weeks of having powwows and heart to hearts with my American friends, being a second daughter to my house parents, and bonding with my host sister. I’ve come to love this country, and I don’t want to leave in two weeks.” – July 26th, 2013