Study Abroad

The End is Near…

Wow, I can’t believe how much time has passed since I last wrote. I also can’t believe how close to being done with this experience I am, it’s an odd feeling that I’m having trouble describing. I can say that I am greatly looking forward to seeing how much living abroad has changed my perspectives and myself as a whole. I don’t feel I’ve changed much, but I also feel like I’ve changed so much I’ve become a different person. Again, it’s an odd feeling and an answer I won’t get until I re enter the life I left when I got on that plane three and half months ago. The only clear emotions I have right now are excitement and anxiety; an appropriate combination.

It is truly astonishing how much you discover about yourself when you study abroad. I had heard and read many stories about this beforehand coming to China, but it is truly something you have to experience to understand. This is where my excitement is rooted. My anxiety comes from the impending reverse culture shock I will undoubtedly have to face. One important thing I’ve learned is culture shock effects everyone differently. At no point during my time here did I feel so overwhelmed by homesickness that I wanted to give. No, instead I felt a type of rage I had never experienced prior. It was frightening how angry I would get at times; being in a foreign country made it hard to express how I was truly feeling. This only made things worse, and things stayed worse for longer than I care to admit. But through a lot of prayer and whining to family and friends, I was able to work through my issues and get back into the swing of things. 

Now here I am, merely weeks from boarding another plane and leaving a part myself here in China. I am not leaving the way I came and I am happy about that reality. I’m definitely ready to go home but China will always be part of my life and has a place in my future.

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Study Abroad

Growing Pains

As I approach the two month mark, which is the official halfway point of my time in Beijing, I am starting to feel the growing pains. Part of this is due to my lack of homesicknesses the first weeks of my time here; it hit me like a ton of bricks and all at once. I am convinced I’m in the late stages of homesicknesses though, I feel like I shouldn’t be going through the feelings I’m currently experiencing until I am home.

In the two months that I have been in charge of my own life, I have discovered a few very significant things about myself. I am able to live apart from my family and friends, I just prefer not to. I have a level of patience and self control I was not aware of, and most importantly I am in love with God. I knew I loved God before I ever got into this program, but I’ve fallen in love which is totally different experience. This is where the growing pains have started,  in falling in love with Christ I have begun to find less and less need for things I used to desire to fill me. There is no longer that void in my life, which has made me incredibly joyful and sorrowful. Growing up isn’t just about getting older, it’s about choosing the path you want to walk down. My path is carry on only and not everything that is currently in my life is coming with me. When I go home the woman I am now, I’m sure where I will fit. I’m not scared of what is coming, but that doesn’t make letting go easier.

Dorm Life, Study Abroad

1 Month Update

It has been awhile, but I can proudly say I have survived my first month abroad! It seems like after the second week ended time began to fly by and before I knew it (and believe me I’ve been counting) it was mid March. I feel like I’m in the twilight zone most of the time, and Beijing is fourteen hours ahead of my home town; I’m literally living in the future.

In the couple week since I’ve written quite a few things have happened that I believe are worth sharing, prepare yourself because where there are six strangers living together, there is drama. Let’s start with the good. When applying for this trip I knew that I would spend my twentieth birthday in Beijing, but when the day actually arrived I was genuinely sad when I woke up here instead of home. That’s not a very positive way to look at things but I don’t care, I was born on Saint Patrick’s Day and I’m used to everyone in Denver wearing green and being merry! That was not the case this year, Saint Patrick’s Day is a Christian holiday, therefore it is not celebrated here. That made me really angry and I felt oddly numb. I know I’m now twenty but it did not feel like my birthday, and if I hadn’t made a vow not to cry for the duration of my time here I would have been bawling. By now I’m sure you’re thinking what could possibly have been good about this? Nothing, until my older sister pointed out that my age changed multiple times in one day. Allow me to explain, I was born March 17 at 3:40 p.m. And seeing that Beijing is fourteen hours ahead I was still nineteen at midnight here because I was born on Denver time. So I turned twenty, then nineteen, and back to twenty. I don’t care if that logic doesn’t make sense because it’s the only thing that made me happy on my birthday abroad.

Now to the bad…

Anyone who has seen MTV’s Real World knows that  living with strangers is not really an episode of Friends. It’s amazing how in only a month people can get so familiar with someone they don’t really know. This is currently my issue, my roommate got too familiar. Let me just say that this person is very sweet, smart, and generally a good person in my opinion. But she was raised in a way that was obviously very different that my upbringing, because this girl talks to people however she wants. If I acted all free speech like she does my parents would have already disowned me. I know this isn’t how all white people were raised but my goodness what is it that makes so many white children think this behavior is ok?! I’m shocked when she asks me questions sometimes. As we can all see in my profile picture I’m black, and there are things you just don’t inquire about. At night I have to wrap my hair up and the way my roommate looked at me was both irritating and hilarious. I know there are some black women who don’t care if you ask them stupid questions about their hair, but I am not one of them. You can look, but don’t touch it and don’t ask me questions about what I’m doing with it. Very simple. And that brings us to the next and last issue of this update. I hate being asked questions. I know that seems dramatic or unreasonable, but when you’ve grown up listening to people ask the dumbest things ever, you develop an intolerance for the unnecessary BS. I expected a lot of questions form the native students I go to school with, but I really hoped the Americans I came with knew better. The first week I understand we’re getting to know each other and people forget things and have to ask again, but we are an entire month into this and people continue to ask me the same crap over and over! I’m so close to just throwing a glass of hot tea on somebody it’s not even funny, and tea is served devil’s butt hole hot over here so someone would get hurt. Ok, I’m stopping, see you next time.

Uncategorized

Jet lag and homesickness 

I’ll start off by saying both of these things suck beyond measure. The things I love most in the world are God, my family and friends, and my bed. I will probably be struggling with this feeling of longing for the duration of my trip, but I don’t see this as a bad thing at all. Feeling like you’re missing something is part of leaving and starting something else. But let’s talk about jet lag and how awful it can be. First of all my jet lag is like a strobe light, it’s always off and on at random times throughout the day and night. I fall into a pretty sound sleep for most of the night or a twilight sleep for the entire night which leaves me feeling like a zombie by mid afternoon. I loathe this feeling because it throws off my entire being. I’m so excited for my body to regulate itself so I can just get on Beijing time and feel human again.

Homesickness is sad. The term is enough to bring me to tears. As of now I have spent a total of zero nights crying myself to sleep thinking about home which is great but strange. I usually feel like crying when I know I have to spend more than two hours outside my room. I am a hardcore homebody and extremely proud because homebody’s know themselves very well. If you like to be out and about no shade, I admire you people. Back to homesickness and the strangeness of it. Like I mentioned earlier I feel homesick at home and I definitely cried in the hours leading to my departure, but those were all the tears that fell. Now I just feel angry and constantly irritated by everything and everyone. I’ve never experienced this kind of homesickness before and I don’t know how to handle it. I’m very comfortable with feeling angry and I’d rather feel that than sadness. Okay that’s all I got for today.

Uncategorized

First Days in Beijing 

So far things are awesome! I have to say I’m surprised at quickly I was able to adjust to being here. Not the jet lag, that is so real and I wake up at 4:30 am every morning and by 8:00 pm I’m knocked out or ready to keel over. I have definitely gotten some stared but it’s all been out of curiosity. As for things I’ve accomplished, I’ve found a place for breakfast and tea. Pretty good so far I think.

Pre-departure

The Last 24 Hours

So tomorrow is the big day and I have to say I am on a rollercoaster of emotions. When I woke up in the morning I felt an overwhelming sadness rush over me because I actually had to face all that I was leaving for this journey. I am still very happy and proud that I took this step to study abroad in a place the opposite of my own, but there is so much to process. First of my mood has been up and down all day thinking about how excited and sorrowful I am. I break out into a huge smile thinking about the new memories I’m about to make and a second later I’m ready to cry over my old ones. I’ve said I’m not going at least a hundred and fifty times today. I don’t mean it of course but it’s just something I have to say to console myself.

Now let’s talk about everything I’m dreading. First thing is the flight to Beijing from Colorado. I can barely stand a two hour flight without being completely stressed out so I don’t know how I’m going to get through a total travel time of fourteen hours! Second and probably worst of all is saying goodbye. I hate goodbyes and saying it in an airport is the worst place to say in my opinion. Well other than in a cemetery or hospital.  I am by no means excited to walk down to security and look back at my crying family wishing me well. I’ve been on the receiving end of that goodbye and it was agonizingly painful to say the least. The third and final thing I am dreading is the culture shock. But it’s all part of the experience and I wouldn’t change the opportunity I have been given.

This will by the last entry I make in America for the next few months, let’s have an adventure!

Pre-departure

I’m Going to China!

Hello my friends, let me begin by introducing myself. My name is Ash and I am a 19 year old college student who is about study abroad for the first time.  As the title states I am going to be studying in China, Beijing China. I have been dreaming of going to Asia since I was 12 years old and I have to say I am beyond pleased that I’ve finally made it a reality. This first post is sort of like my pre-departure reflection. The goal of this blog is to record my experience as it occurs.

Here’s some background on myself and my trip. As I said my name is Ash, I’m a sophomore attending the University of Colorado Denver. I will be studying in Beijing China through a program called CU semester in Beijing. I heard about this opportunity when I was checking out my Universities office of international affairs exchange programs. I had researched several programs before deciding that Beijing was the best fit for what I want to accomplish by studying abroad. When I decided this was a good fit I only had to two weeks to apply for for the program, grants, and scholarships. If you are planning on studying abroad please don’t just make a split decision and only give yourself a couple weeks to get your stuff together. It worked for me but it’s not an efficient way to get important things done. Trust and believe that. Anyway back to the standard introductory information about myself and why I decided to study in China. Firstly I think the Chinese culture is beautiful in a way that I can’t even describe, and secondly I being a Ghanaian American wanted to see and experience a culture that is virtually the opposite of my own. And as for my reason behind creating this blog, well I wanted to capture this experience for myself and share it with other students who are interested in what living in China as woman of color is like. I promise this will be the last boring and relatively formally written post I allow on here. If you made it this far, thank you and welcome to the beginning of my adventure!

I hope ya’ll stick with me.