Name: Malika Reddy
Location of Study: Beijing, China
Program of Study: Chinese Summer Language Program Beijing
Sponsors: Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures
A brief personal bio:
My name is Malika and I am originally from Fayetteville, a suburb south of Atlanta. I am currently a Junior majoring in Science Pre-professional studies and Chinese. My primary major is in Science because I hope to attend medical school after I graduate and go on to become a doctor. Additionally, I have always been interested in Chinese language and culture, so since Freshman year I have been taking Chinese courses.
Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:
My ultimate goal is to become a doctor. During my career in the medical field I want to reach out to the Asian American communities and one of the main problems I want to address is the communication barrier Asians and their doctors tend to face. Most older Asians who have immigrated to America are not able to speak English and there is a lack of trust in modern medicine and doctors. Also, in the future I want to volunteer abroad. Being exposed to a different culture now will make it easier to adapt to different and possibly difficult situations. Moreover, having the ability to adapt will not only help me as a traveler but as a doctor.
What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:
One of my goals when coming into college was to have a study abroad experience. The summer language program in Beijing encompasses everything I would want; the language pledge, extended time with teachers, travel, and lectures on Chinese culture and society will allow me to fully experience China. I hope that with this study abroad I will become fluent in Chinese by the time I graduate. Additionally, I want this to be an enjoyable summer filled with a many new experiences.
My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:
- At the end of my summer study abroad, I will be able to easily and fluently converse in Chinese.
- At the end of my summer study abroad, I will understand Chinese culture and values.
- At the end of my summer study abroad, I will know more about the geography and history of China.
- At the end of my summer study abroad, I will know more about the geography and history of China.
My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience:
I plan on maximizing my experience in China by committing myself to studying Chinese. I will speak only Chinese and in addition to spending a lot of my time learning Chinese in a classroom, I will study a great deal outside of the classroom. This will be by going to my professor’s office hours which are scheduled daily and by meeting students in Peking University who I can also talk to. Additionally, I will be active and participating in all the extra activities offered; this includes traveling and listening to lectures on Chinese culture and history. Moreover, I will make sure I stay aware of what’s going on around me and be observant so I will notice even the small differences between living in China and America.
Reflective Journal Entry 1:
I’ve been in China for about a week now. I’ve been enjoying it although I’ve had a few unpleasant experiences due to the language barrier. I found out quickly that even if I know words, listening and understanding when other people are talking is hard for me. In some cases I’ll walk away and then realize what someone has said. It’s also frustrating when someone expects you to understand them and gets mad at you when you don’t. But other than a few instances I’ve liked China. I went to the Great Wall with my teachers and classmates and it was nice to start out at a touristy place; I feel like everyone has to go to the Great Wall when they go to China so it was kind of like getting it out of the way. It was hot while we were there but Beijing has been hotter and I thought the air there was better.
Reflective Journal Entry 2:
This is my second week in China and I’m really enjoying it. I feel like I’ve already gotten accustomed to the lifestyle here. This weekend I went to another mountain, Fragrant Mountain. I found it similar to the Great Wall but I enjoyed being outside of Peking University campus and in an area with fresher air. Classes are very challenging and I’m very tired by the end of the day but because I like it here and my mood is good I feel like it’s manageable.
Reflective Journal Entry 3:
This is my third week in China and during the weekend I went to Hangzhou and Shanghai. West Lake in Hangzhou was really beautiful. The weather in Shanghai wasn’t good since there was a typhoon coming. It basically rained the whole time we were there but the trip was still fun. Despite the rain we went to many places such as a garden and a Buddhist temple. It was also nice to be get out of Beijing for a little while. Walking around in Shanghai felt different than Beijing.
Reflective Journal Entry 4:
Half of the program is over. I can’t believe I’ve been in China for four weeks. I can tell my Chinese has gotten a lot better and I’m very comfortable living here. I know the part of Beijing I experience is a very small and the students on campus are not the average Beijing person I’d come across on the streets, but I more and more feel like I could live in China. Before I thought it was only a place I would be able to live for a short period of time. While I still don’t want to permanently live in China, if I had the opportunity I could see myself spending an extended time here.
Reflective Journal Entry 5:
I’ve been in China for five weeks. I keep experiencing new things and having a great time. This weekend I went to a tea house. There were a couple of different performances. One of them was Peking opera. Despite not liking tea, I’m glad I got the experience of going to a tea house. Also, I’ve been trying to try more foods. There are a couple of foods that I really like and I’ve tended to eat the same things. I want to try a lot more new foods while I have the chance.
Reflective Journal Entry 6:
My sixth week in China has been great like all the rest. I have a very fixed schedule yet every day seems exciting; I’m reluctant to go back to my dorm at night. There’s a lot of work but I’m still trying to have fun. I don’t know when the next time or if there will be a next time that I return to China. I feel like I have experienced more of typical Beijing now that I’ve been taking the subway and going to more places such as the markets.
Reflective Journal Entry 7:
Seven weeks in China; only one more week to go. The time went by quickly. I can’t believe I only have one more week here. I already know that I’m going to miss Beijing. I enjoy living in a big city with good public transportation. It’s easy to get places and there are many places to go in Beijing. There’s a lot of historical places that are unlike anything you’re able to see in the US because the US doesn’t have a long history. I like going to the parks and being in more natural places with willow trees and lotus flowers and many ponds with fish.
Reflective Journal Entry 8:
I’ve lived in China for almost eight weeks now. I only have three more days and I’m going home. I’ve enjoyed my time here and have done everything that I want to do at this point. Going home I won’t have any regrets. I’m going to miss Beijing but I’m also glad to be going home. It’ll be nice to have a break after studying in China for two months. This was by far the best summer I’ve had, I had many new experiences and I know I’m going to leave China with memories I’ll never forget.
Reflection on my language learning and intercultural gains:
During my time studying abroad in China, I found that the most important part of learning a language is speaking it. Spending hours memorizing vocab is necessary initially but if you don’t use the words you’ll forget them. Also, conversing with others is an easy way to learn new words while not feeling like you’re doing work. In order to engage and understand cultural differences I talked to the Chinese students around me. I found that the younger generation is very Westernized and more similar to Americans than I originally thought. Overall, I met my goals for this program. I am able to converse with native speakers and my pronunciation has gotten a lot better. Also, I have learned about Chinese culture and values as well as the geography and history of China by visiting many cultural places.
Reflection on my summer language abroad experience overall:
This experience has changed my world view. This was my first time going out of the country and I didn’t know what to expect. Now I feel like I am more able to adapt to different situations. I learned to observe the way people acted and not to judge, but to change my own behavior based on it. If someone wants to start their own summer language study I would advise them to learn about the country they’re going to. Also, when you arrive in the country, try to have an authentic experience; eat the food the people around you eat, listen to the same music, and talk to young people.
How I plan to use my language and intercultural competences in the future:
Coming back to the US, I will continue to study Chinese. I will work on becoming more fluent in Chinese and in the future I hope to go back and volunteer in China. Academically, I benefitted a lot from this experience; my Chinese has improved greatly. Personally, I enjoyed my time and made new friends that I will continue to talk to. Professionally, this experience has taught me to be patient and how to handle difficult situations. It has also taught me the importance of communication. Sometimes I was unable to communicate with others in China but in America where I have the ability to, I shouldn’t take this for granted.