I’ve now been out of China for about one entire month. It feels very odd to be back in the United States and have to go through the whole jet-lag adjustment process again. Overall, I am very satisfied with the experience that I’ve been so fortunate to have these past two months living in such a different culture.
During the eight weeks of the program, I did not miss class once, which I think greatly helped my learning, as so much can be learned in one day of class at NDIB. Each day we learned a little less than 100 words and 20 grammar concepts a day, and the four hours of drill class as well as the individual discussion sessions with a teacher definitely drastically aided in my learning. I met all of my goals for language learning that I created prior to my start of the program, which makes me feel accomplished. Sometimes it can be hard to see my own progress with the language, but it’s easy to measure my progress by my fulfillment of my language goals.
If I were to give advice to someone going to study in China in the future, I would tell him to not be afraid to travel around Beijing by himself. A lot of times, it was difficult to coordinate daily travel or eating with friends, due to the small size of the program and the differences in study habits. By exploring the very safe city by myself, I was able to experience more of the city and more of what I wanted to see in China. In addition, I wasn’t tempted to speak English with anyone while sightseeing, as everyone around me only spoke Chinese. By exploring by myself, I was forced to figure out a lot of the city by myself, which was a challenge I really enjoyed.
I plan on continuing to study Chinese in the future. I am currently spending the fall semester studying Spanish in Toledo, Spain, which makes maintaining my current level of Chinese a bit difficult. I speak both Chinese and Spanish pretty well, and although they may see like they have nothing in common, I often get the two languages confused in my head. I hope to take an online class in Chinese while I am abroad so that I can continue on in the second half of 4th year Chinese when I return to Notre Dame in the spring. It’s crazy to think that I started learning Chinese about a year and a half ago, and I’ve already reached senior level Chinese classes. I hope to use my language skills in combination with my business major to work abroad in international businesses.
I’m so fortunate to have been awarded the SLA Grant to study abroad in Beijing China. The experiences that I have been blessed with have been unlike anything I’d ever experienced in my life. My Chinese language level has increased immensely, and I finished the summer program with an A. I am very proud of the work I have accomplished in China and feel that I have matured a lot by immersing myself in such a different but vibrant culture. I hope to continue my Chinese language study in hopes of one day becoming completely proficient in a language that I love so much.