It would be a terrible lie if I dared say China has not changed me. It has, and what I have learned here will guide my path in the future. Not only will the knowledge of the Chinese language help me, but the general insights into a country so vital to America’s and the world’s future will be exceptionally invaluable.
Since I have arrived in China, I have learned a lot about what it means to be Chinese. Beijing has been good to me, since it is the cultural hub of China, a place that has long been the capital, and along those lines has famous buildings to accompany a profound history. By visiting the Great Wall 长城 and the Forbidden City 故宫, I get to witness the strength of imperial China and observe a culture distinct in the world’s collage. It has humbled me and expanded my knowledge beyond the typical Western history most know in the United States; I get to put into perspective modernity and the shifting dynamics of East and West interactions.
I had the opportunity to travel in China to see just how big the country is. I stayed for a weekend at an oasis in the Gobi Desert of Inner Mongolia 内蒙古, a province in China that borders Mongolia. I also took an overnight train to Xi’an and back, lending me the chance to see the world-famous Terra-Cotta Army 兵马俑. Every journey I get the chance to make only further embellishes the depth of history and culture in China. When riding a camel in the Gobi, I could not help but wonder who might have come before me in China’s 5,000 year history, or when I finally saw the Terra-Cotta Army and realized that it was 2,200 years old – that is simply unfathomable!
Additionally, I have learned what I want to do in the future, from my study abroad experience. I am from a rural town in Maine that no one knows of outside the state, a town so small I had never heard of it until I moved there, yet I have survived in one of the largest metropolises in the world, Beijing. I feel like I could live anywhere in the world after this and be happy there, too. I have also met some great people from all over the world, forging some bonds that will never die. Life, success, money – what would it matter without companionship? It is something I realize now that having companionship is an integral part to achieve a happy life.
It is indubitable that my career path post-degree will be impacted by my experience here. The Gilman Scholarship provided me with a positive mark on my résumé, which will help towards future employment in study abroad field. Additionally, if I choose to continue studying literature or philosophy, I will have to look at China’s contribution to the fields. I have already taken an interest in the philosophies of Confucius, Mencius, and Lao Tzu, and why would I end this interest?
There are still many more days here in China, but I can already confidently say that this country has bettered me, perhaps even more than I an aware. With every milestone I achieve, I am able to self reflect and I will always be grateful for this experience and how it has impacted me.