Having only taken one year of Chinese, living in China and trying to navigate life only speaking Chinese was very difficult at first. Simple tasks became more difficult and a lot of thought went in to everything that I tried to say. However, as the summer went on, I became more and more comfortable using Chinese to speak to locals. Being immersed in a language really helped me learn unfamiliar words and phrases. I would often listen to people’s conversations and try to figure out what they were talking about. I think I made a lot of progress during the summer. I can now discuss multiple different topics in Chinese and feel relatively comfortable doing so.
Although I believe my Chinese language education is extremely important, I feel like my exposure to Chinese daily life and culture is one of my greatest takeaways from the trip. As someone who has lived in the same small city for his entire life, seeing one of the largest cities on the opposite side of the world was a once in a lifetime experience. China is so different from America. It’s almost so different that it is difficult to explain, so I am extremely happy I had the opportunity to experience it for myself.
I am continuing my Chinese study back at Notre Dame. I plan to major in Chinese and use it to get an International Business Certificate. I am excited to take Chinese culture classes and discuss issues facing the country in my Chinese class.