After 14 months of interning, studying, and living abroad, I’m finally coming home.
The past year in China has by no means been a walk in the park. I had to figure a lot of things out on my own in a foreign country and in a foreign language, from navigating Chinese bureaucracy, negotiating with landlords, and, most recently, getting a new air conditioner installed. So many things I usually take for granted, made so much more difficult in a new environment, with different ways of doing things. It was basically “adulting” on steroids.
And although I’ve felt bored, annoyed, frustrated, and homesick at times, I’ve also felt exhilarated, intrigued, challenged, independent, and truly happy, and have had some of the best times of my life with some incredible people I’ve met along the way.
I feel so lucky to have completed my dream internship at the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai, and to have attended the top university in China, Peking University, in Beijing. Both experiences have forced me to improve myself, from giving live remarks televised to millions of people, taking politics classes in Chinese, and working alongside people of many nationalities and backgrounds, and have taught me so much about the world, the kinds of things you can only learn from really immersing yourself in a new environment and listening and observing from a new perspective.
I traveled to places like random bamboo forests, Hong Kong, Inner Mongolia’s grasslands & deserts, Tibet, the Base Camp of Mt. Everest, the “Avatar” mountains, and the motherland — South Korea. I’ll never forget the adventures, the 40-hour train rides, the landscapes, the yurts, the yaks, the pandas, the architecture, the beauty, the food, the people, and most of all the memories. They’ve opened my eyes & my curiosity to whole new parts of the world.
And even though I’ll probably kiss the ground when I land in the U.S., I will really miss China, and all the things I’ve come to love. My electric scooter, for example. And cheap delivery services, my favorite community Bao’an (security guard), all the delicious choices of food I’ll never find back home, casual strolls around the campus lake, the insane nightlife, stopping by world heritage sites, the hip outfits of the urban youth, that strange contrast of ancient and ultra-modern, super convenient transportation, inspirational propaganda posters, and the feeling of endless possibilities in China. Things I will not miss include: pollution, crazy driving, subpar sanitation levels, crowds, and the Great Firewall.
So with that, 中国再见! Thanks for so many crazy good times.