This past summer, I spent 11 weeks in China on an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Global Security and Intelligence Studies study abroad trip. The trip was one of the most unique and memorable experiences of my life, and through it I greatly improved my Chinese skills.
I spent most of the summer in Beijing, staying with a host family and taking three classes, all taught in Chinese. Staying with a host family afforded me the opportunity to practice Chinese from the moment I awoke to when I went to bed. It was mandatory if I wanted to eat breakfast or dinner! All the close contact certainly proved a beneficial way to learn Chinese.
Unsurprisingly, my favorite part of the trip was getting to live in and experience the Chinese culture. After living in the United States for my entire life, Chinese culture was certainly a shock. Haggling with store owners over prices and buying street food everywhere was certainly different from my cultural norm, but also very fun!
Beijing is certainly not a representation of all of China, and getting to see more of the country was one of my top priorities when I was there. The trip organized by Dr. Chen, head of the GSIS/Chinese program, included several trips already, and I added a couple more. In total, I visited Xi’an, Bao Tou, Qingdao, Kunming, Dali, and Shangri La. These trips granted me the opportunity to see the Terracotta Warriors, the Leaping Tiger Gorge, the Gobi Desert, and a famous monastery, all of which were like nothing I had ever seen.
From the Summer Palace to the Great Wall to the Forbidden City, China is full incredible wonders that everyone should see. Each landmark I visited gave deeper insight into Chinese culture and history, and gave me a better understanding than I could possibly have learned in class.
I experienced so much of China and its culture, and all the while, I was improving my Chinese language abilities. The trip through the GSIS program was a perfect way to continually improve my abilities and experience everything my teachers taught in the classroom.