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.
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.
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.