After a VERY LONG INEXCUSABLE HORRIBLE amount of inactivity on this blog, I’m back to wrap things up and share a few summing it all up sort of thoughts with everybody. Why did I stop updating this blog frequently and sharing my travels and tales? I think part of it was that being in Beijing became unexciting. I was in China for a longer period of time and things sort of transformed from being all new, shiny, crazy, and Chinese, to becoming mundane, routine, and regular. It didn’t feel like life in a foreign country, it just felt like school, and living, and hanging out with friends on the weekend. I wasn’t seeking out new actively seeking out interesting or new experiences as much as I had been at the beginning of my trip. I didn’t feel like I had novel or interesting experiences to share with you because school was where I was putting most of my time and nothing terribly fresh or exciting was happening.
But I suppose, just writing and sharing the mundane rhythms of my life in China is what the purpose of this blog is. It isn’t about exploiting China or my experiences, highlighting what is different, or what could be perceived as negative. I didn’t go to China to write home repeating CHINA IS BIG AND WEIRD over and over again. Even though some of my earliest posts reflect this spirit, I think I used this platform as a way to deal with stress I had in my life over adapting to a new environment.
Instead, this blog should have been an honest reflection of how I interacted with my new environment and what those experiences actually meant. I look back over my time in China and I do think of the places I went to and the things I was able to do. I think of going swimming in the ocean at Zhoushan, eating countless dinners in the little restaurants sprinkled outside the college campus in Hanzhou, getting up at 5:30 twice a week to go my kungfu course (well maybe it was more like agressive dancing for me). I think of relaxing in the hostel in Chengdu, looking over the line of terracotta warriors in Xian, arriving in Beijing and going for a jog around tiannamen, the very smoggy vacation CET prepared for us in kaifeng. I think of all these places, and experiences, and more. I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to explore these places and to immerse myself in such a variety of different areas during my time in China.
But when I really think about my time in China, I can’t help but focus on the people I met and the lives I intersected with. I think about my first roommate, Wangsu, and spending much of my summer vacation backpacking with him, exploring mountains and then jumping into the urban confusion of Shanghai. I think of all the other Chinese students in Hangzhou, going out to clubs until 5 in the morning or late night bubble tea delivery calls while we were studying for that little extra caffeinated jolt. I beam when thinking about my friends Susan and Jenn and the two weeks we spent exploring eastern China. I remember how Susan’s roommate, Liangliang’s family invited us to live with them for a week and the many overwhelming feasts that Liangliang’s mother prepared for us. I revisit my American friends from Beijing, and the strange version of Chinglish that we filled the halls of the international dormitory with. I remember going to KTV with all the American students and roommates and spending hours belting out Chinese and American hits until my throat was raw.
It’s spending time with people, learning about a different history and culture. Spending time with people and forging friendships that not even the 3000 miles between us can weaken. That is the most valuable thing I took away from my time in China. While memories of the many ruined temples or cities I passed through on my trip will inevitably be forgotten. The friendships I have established with people in China will not waver. I am grateful for the opportunity that I had to study for such a long period of time in such an amazing country of new foods, customs, places, and history. But it will be the people I miss the most.
I look forward to continuing to improve my Chinese (I am currently addicted to a Chinese television show so that will be no problem) and discovering more opportunities to return to this country that I have learned to love and appreciate and already miss so much.