What I Learned In China


December 23, 2015

I will safely admit that I have 100% been slacking on this blog business. It’s sad to say that I am no longer in China anymore and have been back to the normality of life for a solid week now. Pulling an all-nighter with my China family on our last night put me in some sleepy delirium that failed to allow me to recognize my situation. It didn’t feel like I was leaving my new home for what might be forever. It didn’t seem real that I was about to return to my old life, as a completely different person. It didn’t hit me that I wouldn’t see my China babies anymore, rely on my noodle man for dinner, go up to my new best friend’s room whenever I felt like it, or live two hours from my favorite city in the world (Shanghai). I boarded the plane for my 10 hour flight, and upon my arrival to San Fran I finally realized for a split second that I wasn’t in China anymore. Culture shock hit me coming back to America, just as it hit me when I went to China. As cheesy and generic as this sounds, there’s no words to describe how much my time living in China has meant to me. It’s one thing to visit or take a vacation to China… But to live in it, immerse oneself in the culture, and live life as the locals do is a completely different experience.

I came to China to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I left my country in hopes to find some direction or clarity with my life. I was able to become more solidified in a major for school- global studies. Most importantly I discovered what makes my heart dance and my soul smile: traveling. While I’ve found something I’m passionate about, I’ve also had a taste of how heartbreaking I can be. For example: you go somewhere new, make incredible memories, and suddenly realize that you will never be in this same place, with the same people, in the same situation, with these experiences ever again. It will forever just be a memory after you leave and that really stabs the heart, tbh. Meeting new people from all over the world and becoming friends with individuals from different walks of life is a huge aspect of traveling around. That’s where emotional pain takes it’s toll too. You can make foreign friends, and even make some small memories with them, but in the grand scheme of things you’ll probably never see them again and that’s not an easy thought to process.

China is a whole different world in which us foreigners will never fully understand. I grew in ways that I never could have imagined.

Two most important things I learned in China:

1. Don’t get attached to material things: Along with realizing what an awkward human being I am this semester, I realized how irresponsible I truly can be. From the moment I got off our bus at our school, I lost my favorite headband I was wearing. That should have been the warning sign, the red flag… That was my foreshadowing of the next four months. Lost a few things more here and there, friends started trusting me less with important stuff on vacations, and then October came incident #1. Almost lost my phone in Shanghai, for the first time. Got in the taxi after Jacqui found it for me… Almost lost it the second time that night after she just found it. November rolled around… Lost my phone for realz. Don’t know how or when it decided to walk off, but it was tragic. I was without a phone for an entire month until I came back to America. December happens… Last weekend in Shanghai, last weekend in China… Thought I lost my go-pro. Accepted the situation like I did, detached myself from that sweet camera real quick, and just told myself, “is it really a Shanghai trip if I don’t lose something?”. I ended up finding it at the deep depths of backpack though. Long story short: don’t get attached to material items. They can always be replaced, and those aren’t the important things to worry about in life.

2. There’s so much more to life than what we think we know in our shallow and superficial American bubble: when you travel and get to witness and experience another culture first-hand, you can’t help but have your mind and perspective transformed and expanded. You also realize how big this world is, what a little space you fill up on it, and therefore how little your “problems” truly are. Americans just have this set image of how life is supposed to be. School is important, yes. Jobs and careers are important, yes. But my mind has shifted… Life is short. Way short. Probably gonna be 70 years old in a couple of days with how fast it seems to be going right now. With that being said, do what makes you happy. Don’t waste life suffering in a situation you’re not happy in. Pursue what makes your soul smile. TAKE CHANCES AND PURSUE EVERY OPPORTUNITY. To many people, it’s dumb to want to travel and see the world this young. They’ll say, “wait til you’re older and established, or until you have the time and money.” Wait. When I’m older, I’ll have student loans, possibly marriage or kids (gag @ that thought rn), a career that won’t be easy to take time off from… I will never be this free again. Why not take advantage? School will always be there, a career will always be there. The tunnel vision us Americans have for our futures is just silly. China helped me to broaden that vision.

Moving across the world was easily the best decision of my life. It was a turning point no doubt, in many aspects of my life. I already miss it.


“But that’s the glory of foreign travel… i can’t think of anything that excites a great sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. suddenly you are five years old again. you can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.” -Bill Bryson


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