Monday, July 18, 2011

欢迎中国! - Welcome to China!

My experience in China has been a whirlwind of new experiences, both good and bad. This is actually my second time in China, so I expected many things, but this time I am staying much longer and the feeling is altogether new because I am living at a Chinese university and this time I don’t have a tour guide to help me along the way.

Beijing has so many exciting things to see, and it feels like it is the beating heart of the rising tiger that is China. In Beijing, I have had so many different types of good and inexpensive food. The people are all incredibly friendly to Americans and the hospitality is absolutely fantastic! I have to say that Chinese people are some of the most generous people I have ever met. Their willingness to pay for a dinner or to give a small gift is something that I have never experienced before. In America I would never expect to be treated with such kindness and hospitality, but here every contact I have so far has opened up their homes and their hearts to me. Being so far away from home for the first time in my life, I really do appreciate this attitude from the Chinese. It makes me feel at home and as though I still have family even though my true home is halfway around the world. If you know anybody overseas, it is incredibly useful to call these contacts. Having just one friend overseas can change the whole complexion of a trip and alter your entire impression of a country. Plus, only natives can give you a true understanding of the culture of a foreign country.

Beyond that, I have had plenty of opportunities to practice my Chinese, and I am proud to say I see the improvements every day. It’s a deeply satisfying feeling. Of course, any Chinese person will say I speak so well, but the truth is I still have a lot of progress to make, but it’s heartening to see that I am making progress; especially in hearing and understanding the Beijing accent.
Unfortunately, I have had a miniature series of bad events in the midst of my excitement. I have fried two of my electronic devices: a hair straightener and mp3 player; by not setting the converter to the proper setting. On top of that, my internet is not very strong in my dorm, so it’s very difficult to contact family and friends. At times it seems the only novelties I still have are my books and my Bible. It has forced me to alter my lifestyle a little bit. It’s only been a week, but I am learning to slow down and to have a deeper focus on the task at hand rather than constantly juggling a million tasks at once. I even have had to slow down on coffee, since it is relatively expensive in some places and it is a little far from my classes in the morning. In America I often watch TV, listen to music, check my social media, do homework and apply for scholarships and internships simultaneously. But in China, I have become an early-riser, waking up every day between 5:30 and 6:00 to start my Tai-chi class at 6:30 in the park. Then I go to class and calligraphy after that. Calligraphy is a slow process, but it is also a peaceful time. From there, most of my free time is spent trying all of the delicious Beijing food, and spending time reading my Bible and deepening my spiritual relationship. All in all, I think it has been good to lose access to TV, internet, music, politics, and all the other minor distractions I love in America. It gives me a new experience and a better opportunity to more deeply explore Chinese culture. I can’t wait to see where my journey will take me next.

Kalisha Holmes
BA International Affairs, 2012
Sigur Center 2011 Asian Language Fellow
Peking University, Beijing, China

No comments:

Post a Comment