I decided to go to China for study abroad because I wanted to learn more about the Chinese culture and I wanted to see something different from the western culture. What I saw on the television was not just enough for me, I needed to see China and its people with my own eyes. Lastly, I like to travel and see the world.
I went with three other girls from my school, SUNY College at Old Westbury and we had an amazing experience. Wuyi University and Old Westbury sponsored me to go to China. We lived on campus in Wuyi University and the housing system was great. The staff was amazing and lovely. They are very helpful and resourceful. Even though, it was not easy to communicate with some of the staff members because they don't speak English, they were still very open minded and welcoming. I was taking different classes such as mandarin, history and philosophy of China, and Chinese Tradition Medicine. The classes were though by professor from Wuyi University in english and they were simple and fun. The students were very approachable and helpful, they took us to many places in Jiangmen. As part of the study abroad program, I went to Beijing and Guangzhou. I visit many different places in Beijing such as the Great Wall, the Olympic Park, Beihai Park, Forbidden City, the National Museum of China and many other different places. I also went to Xiangjing Wild Animal World which is a safari in Guangzhou.
I applied for financial aid and I also got a scholarship from SUNY Old Westbury. The scholarship and the financial aid together covered the tuition but not other expenses. I also got a scholarship from Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day High School where I graduated which allowed me to purchase my ticket. I basically didn't pay anything out of packet other than my own expenses such as gifts and stuff.
I wish I knew that China was really hot at that time. I was warned that the weather was warm however I didn't expect such a warm temperature.
I really don't think that what I experienced was discrimination because I tried put myself of their shoes. As an African with a very dark skin, some people were staring at me, taking pictures at me without my permission, and touching to see if my skin color was real. I was shocked at first but then I got used to it. I can't count how many pictures I took with random people walking on the street. I understand them because I would act the same way if I see something that I have never seen, so that's why I think my case was not discrimination but curiosity.
I learned a lot while I was in China. Going to China is one of the experience that I will never going to forget in my life. It opened my mind in many ways. I see the Chinese culture differently and I also value it more. Academically, I learned many different things about the medical system in China and also the traditional Chinese medicine which was a wonderful class. This experience benefited a lot because as a student who want to become a doctor learning about cultures, languages and traditional medicine will help you in the future.
My most memorable moment of studying abroad was climbing up the Great Wall. I felt like I accomplished something after I climb up the Great Wall because not a lot of people get to do it. I felt JOY!
For the entire time I spent in China, I was never bored. I always had something to do. I love badminton so whenever I had free time, I went with the students to play badminton or go to the mall. Sometimes, we go to the park to ride bike or we had game night which was very fun.
My experience abroad had prepared me in the future because I can say some words in mandarin and sometimes I understand what people are saying when they speaking in mandarin. Last month, I was in the bus going back to campus and there was a lady seating next to me. She had a paper with her but she couldn't speak English. So she tapped me on my shoulder and showed me the paper which had the names of the bus stop. I looked at the paper and immediately introduced myself in Mandarin. She then looked at me and smiled. Even though I don't speak mandarin fluently, I was able to help that lady because she felt confident talking to me after I introduce myself. I was so proud and so happy that day because I would never though that the little I know can be helpful.
Definitely! Because it is a once in a lifetime experience and Chinese people are amazing and welcoming.
My advice for students thinking who are thinking of studying abroad is that do it if you can because it is something that makes you unique and something you will never forget for the rest of your life. GO! Don't be scared! Don't let the media scares you! It's FUN!