The Inception

The inception of my study abroad is not when I get on my flight to Beijing, but now, as I prepare mentally and academically for this summer.

I’m so excited for 中国!

My name is Harini (马海宁)and I am student at The College of William and Mary. I am an international relations major with an accounting minor hoping to one day work in China. My passion for Chinese started when I accidentally watched a Chinese TV show with my friend and absolutely fell in love with the show. I started teaching myself a little here and there, and finally decided to take classes. Moreover, I am intrigued by Chinese culture, politics, and food! I live at the Chinese house on campus and practice making authentic fried rice and stir fry in my free time. I won’t say I am a widely traveled person, but my roots lie in India and I often visit home.

One thing for sure, is that I am very excited to go to China this summer. I’ve been dreaming for a while, and now it is finally real. Now that I have convinced my parents that I am old enough to travel by myself, I am ready to take on the challenges and face the experience in China. My number one fear is food. I am vegetarian, lactose-intolerant, and gluten-free. Yeah, I’m not joking. I know soy milk is very popular in China, so I don’t have to worry about being lactose-intolerant. Bread is also a Western food and I’ve heard that it isn’t popular food, so I won’t have to worry about being gluten free. Now, I’ve heard being vegetarian is the hardest. Many things are fried in fish oil or pork oil, and most of the foods have meat in them naturally. It looks like I’m going to have to learn how to say “vegetarian” in Chinese. But, I do love rice which there is plenty of – so I’ll see how I can manage.

Throughout this semester and into the summer, I will be focusing on three main things:

  1. Improving my Chinese fluency
  2. Successfully conducting my research project
  3. Seeking out enriching experiences in and around Beijing

From what I have heard from students last year, we have class from 8-12 in Chinese, and an hour for lunch, and then about an hour-and-half of a culture class. For a couple weeks, we even get to take a martial arts class outside (SO COOL!). On the weekends, we have excursions to popular parts of Beijing, like Forbidden Palace, Great Wall, and much more! Our trip also has two planned excursions to inner Mongolia and Wutai Mountain in Shanxi Province. For our research project, we have the opportunity to work with native Chinese speakers as we have to interview them and are able to conduct surveys. So much to do in so little time!

I’m trying to connect my twitter (@harinipanini) to this blog, so all of you can see me live tweet my study abroad experience. I am a huge social media fanatic and photography geek. So keep an eye out for my Flickr updates as well: http://www.flickr.com/photos/flyingunderthesun.