It’s currently 11 am on Sunday, February 24, 2013. I’m in an Internet café in Shanghai, China, and my family and friends are fast asleep at home… it’s still Saturday for them. It’s hard to grasp that just one week ago I was on the opposite side of the world in New York, and now I’m in China. Initially I was nervous and hesitant about going to China, but my expectations couldn’t have been more inaccurate. This past week of orientation has taught me a lot about myself and about China, and I can already feel myself changing and growing. I can’t wait for the new things I’m going to experience over these next 4 months.
Right off the bat I could tell that the people on my trip were going to change my life. There’s 21 of us and each of us is unique in our own way. We have students from Kentucky, North Carolina, New York, Mongolia, South Korea, Ohio, and more, all of us coming from different backgrounds. This week we have gotten to know each other quickly, and we have had some incredible experiences already. Our program took us to a mind-blowing acrobatic show, we went to a traditional Chinese market, and we went on a scavenger hunt around Shanghai, and we got lost…a lot. I have no sense of direction in New York, so in Shanghai, I’m struggling.
Another great aspect of the trip has been getting to know our language partners. Each student was paired up with a Chinese student, the idea being that the Chinese students will help us with our Chinese language skills, and we will help them with their English. My language partner’s name is Angela and I have really enjoyed getting to know her and the other Chinese students. So far these students have gone above and beyond to be there for us. Yesterday a bunch of us traveled to a Chinese market and our Chinese partners helped us haggle for better prices for our gifts. I got a mahjong set in hopes of learning how to play the game and others succeeded in finding cheap prices for wallets, suits, and sunglasses. I’m looking forward to improving my haggling skills in hopes of getting some awesome gifts for friends and family back at home.
Monday we start our classes. I am looking forward to the internship I will have at a high school in Shanghai, and for the different classes here, that is if I’m able to navigate my way to them! Wish me luck!