Officially halfway through the semester: My thoughts about studying abroad so far.

November 2, 2017

Today officially marks two months of being in China. One thing is for sure about Beijing: Time goes by so quickly. My first day in Beijing, I was on the subway going back to my school with a friend I had just met at church. He told me that my time would go by so quickly, and that my semester in China would pass by like nothing. Of course, I hoped that  would not be the case for me, because I had felt that one semester in China was too short. Now, however, I think one semester is the perfect amount of time for me.

A couple weeks into my semester, I was confronted with a decision: Was I here to learn Chinese, or was I here for the experience? At the time, I could not decide, and I did not think a balance between the two were possible. This decision came up because I had the option of taking an easier class and a more difficult Chinese class. Obviously, my priority was to study, because my credits are transferring back to my university back home, but I was hoping to go back close to fluent in Chinese. Crazy, right? Chinese is a very difficult language, you could probably assume, and I have to constantly remind myself that I am not expected to know everything.

One thing I’ve learned about myself, so far, is that I worry too much. Deciding between the two classes would make me really stressed out, and I was not getting much sleep just because I couldn’t decide which class to take. In my mind, the only pro in choosing the hard class was that my Chinese would improve more, but I felt like I would die in the process. I felt like I would have to study every moment of free time I had, and that I would not be able to experience China the way I wanted. Is that true? I’ll never know because I decided on the easier class and I am so thankful that I did. I call it the easier class because it is the perfect level for me. The other class was a step up from what I could handle, but I wanted to challenge myself, which is why I stressed so much about it.  I am learning a lot of new Chinese and I feel great.

Two months into Beijing, and I finally feel like I can manage my time correctly. I realized I will not be able to see every single thing in Beijing, or China for that matter, and I am okay with that. I have been keeping busy, with school, studying, and making connections. I try to see at least one new thing around Beijing every week. I have been able to balance travel and studying pretty well. So far, outside of Beijing, I have been to Xi’an and DaTong, and they have been great trips where I have met so many people.

Now back tracking a bit – I think one semester is perfect amount of time for two main reasons. One,  I am not a big city person. Growing up the last half of my life in a small town, I have come to love the calm life of Southern Arizona. Two,  I am pretty young. Of course, that is why I came to China in the first place: I wanted to experience life as soon as possible. There are people in my class who are ten years older than me, some are even married and have kids, and they are doing the same exact thing as me. It made me realize that there is no need to rush things. I can take life one step at a time.

China has been great, my favorite thing has no doubt been the wonderful people I have met. I still have two months left! I am going to make every moment count. But I cannot wait to be back home to see my lovely family and friends! I promise I will be writing more! Writing gives me a chance to remind myself of all the experiences I have gone through.

Thank you for reading ❤

 

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