Going to China was an experience of a lifetime. Having been home for a while now, there are already a few things that I miss about being in China, like the awesome public transportation system or feeling like my Chinese skill were improving every single day. But I mostly miss the food. Chinese food is delicious and very cheap there. I love it and some stuff you just cannot find in the States.
I’m slowly reacclimating myself to America. It’s weird now to go out and people not be Chinese and all the signs are in English. There is an ease about life in the States that I had forgotten. Even though by the end of my time in China, I thought that my Chinese was pretty good, regular everyday things like ordering food or going to a movie theater were made more difficult because of the language barrier and my shyness. I would practice things literally 2-3 times before I spoke to anyone, and that is just a stressful way to live.
Overall my experience in China was what I expected. I knew people would stare at me all the time and that I would have to explain the whole institution of slavery to get some people to understand that I was not from Africa. I knew that the program I chose would be very hard and all I would do is study Chinese, and I knew that I would eventually get used to being there but Chinese people would really never get used to me. I was mostly okay with all of this before I went.
I do wish I had known some things before going to China. Such as you should get a Chinese phone so you can get a Chinese bank account so you can used Alibaba pay or WeChat. Don’t be like me and not do it. Most people pay for everything using those two apps and they are impossible to use without a Chinese bank account. I thought it was dumb that I had to get a Chinese phone just to open a bank account so I never ended up doing it. In the grand scheme of things, it was fine but I do know that it would have added ease to my life.
Another thing that people don’t really warn you about is that the people in your program effect your experience during your program, sometimes more than the Chinese people. It’s nice to have allies who are going through the same things as you during your stay. If not it can be pretty lonely. I know I would not have had half as much fun if all of people in my program were not fun to be around.
In short, going to China was a lot of fun. It is a place that a lot of people talk about but don’t really truly understand. I know that there are still so many more things that I would like to explore about China and many more places I would like to go. I hope that everyone had a great end to 2017 and awesome start to 2018.