I cannot sink, therefore I swim

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The view out of the window of room 1005 in building 18

Well, I’m home.  I suppose I suspected it to more of a bang than a fizzle.  Still, here I am and happy to be.

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WuTaiShan Temple. The character means Buddha

I feel like now, as it is fresh in my mind, is the time to reflect on the experience as a whole.  Going into this program, I had reservations.  On a very superficial level, I really didn’t want to spend one of my last free summers in school, even in a foreign country.  Further, I wasn’t sure I could handle studying in China.  I am very close to my family and friends, I was afraid I would miss them too much.  It was also a commitment.  I couldn’t change my mind once I set foot on that plane.  I was a little worried the culture would chew me up and spit me out.  Finally, there was my health to consider.  Beijing is not really the place for an asthmatic.  I didn’t want to be seriously ill that far away from home.

Now I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy.  I was taking 12 credits.  Some day were harder than others, some days I missed people more, some days I was angrier or sadder, some days I wished with all my might I could leave.  It wasn’t easy, but it did get easier.  I got used to the culture.  I learned how to haggle.  I learned where to get food to feed myself.  I learned to let loose, to go out and explore when the temptation was great to just stay in and study, watch American TV, ignore the outside world. I saw some incredible sights, both in Beijing and on the excursions.  I learned how it felt to be different from everybody else, and everybody else knowing it.

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An AoBao, holy site, in the Glasslands of Inner Mongolia

 

Will I go back to Tsing Hua?  Hard to say, probably not.  But will I go back to China?  Of course, it still has t
hat mystical pull over me it had at the beginning of the summer.  The only difference is now I know to pack my own toilet paper.