It is so difficult for me to express how I feel right now. It’s so surreal to think that I have literally less than 10 days in China… a week from Monday, I will be on a plane to a different country and a different adventure, and leaving these people and these experiences behind…
I don’t even know what to say. Over the past few months, I’ve had a lot of up’s and down’s. I’ve definitely had my “omg I love China” moments and my “China SUCKS I want to go home” moments. But for the most part, every single thing I’ve done here has been amazing and even the bad experiences were still experiences I was able to learn from. Living my life without regrets is something that I try to live by, but also something that can be super difficult to do. But I can honestly say that I don’t regret a single thing I’ve done in China… not at all. Everything has been truly amazing.
Probably the number one thing that has made my experience so fulfilling has been the amazing people I am surrounded by. Not only is my program full of kind, intelligent, interesting people, but they are also just a TON of fun to be around and offer such a diverse background. We’ve all taught each other SO much and words can’t even begin to express how thankful I am for each and every person on this program.
Special shoutout to my Chinese class though; I’ve talked about how much I love my Chinese class before, but seriously, I can hardly stand how much I’m
going to already miss them. Our class is myself, my roommate Kim, Nicola, and Abdullah. And let me tell you, these people are GREAT. Our personalities go together perfectly, we don’t feel awkward speaking in Chinese with one another, we are goofy and funny and have hilarious inside jokes, and we hands down have the sweetest, cutest, most AMAZING little nugget of a Chinese teacher that literally takes care of us like we are her little children. I LOVE THEM ALL SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!! And if I happen to get super emotional when we leave, I don’t think it will be hard to figure out why. Because as much as we give each other sh*t and 开eachother的玩笑, I don’t think I have met more genuine people in my life. My classmates are honestly going to either change the world or save it. And probably my Chinese teacher, too. I’ve learned sosososososososo soooo much from them and I’m actually not sure how I will function in a Chinese class of 15+ people when I go back to the States. And as nice as my teachers have been in the States, LITERALLY no one can compare to the bundle of goodness that is Gao Laoshi.
This evening, my class and I went over to Abdullah’s to do some cooking for Gao Laoshi. She’s invited us over to her house twice before, so we figured we should ask her this time and treat her to something. It turned out pretty well – we ate lots of food, had lots of dessert, and of course just chatted in Chinese and played a few games. And this may sound weird, but sometimes we all just kind of sit there happily without much to say, just truly enjoying each others’ presence. We may be somewhat unable to express that to each other in Chinese perfectly, but I know it’s there. UGH. Moral of the story, THIS CLASS IS AWESOME. Easily the best class I’ve had in my life. I look forward to it every day. Sorry future classes, but you don’t stand a chance.
Besides just hanging out with my Chinese class an obsessive amount, a few other awesome things have happened or are currently happening that are super exciting:
- We recently completed filming our class end-of-the-year video (as if we weren’t bonded enough before, this pretty much secured the bond :P). Let’s just say ours was a mystery/thriller/comedy called “海绵宝宝和他的朋友们”, aka “Spongebob Squarepants and his Friends”. Basically Spongebob possesses Kim and forces her to capture her classmates. Epically creepy…and hilarious. Our video has been a pain in the neck to edit, but we’re all equally determined to edit it and get it up on YouTube sometime in the next month or so, so don’t worry, if you want to see it, it WILL happen.
- On Friday, we took our Alliance exit exam. This was basically the exact same test that we were given at the beginning of the semester, except that we had about 4 months of China experience under our belt this time. Let’s just say I left entire sections BLANK the first time I took the test, but this time I finished the entire thing and even considered a few sections easy. It definitely wasn’t perfect, but to be honest I could hardly tell it was the same test, because I understood so little at the beginning. I still think I have a long way to go before I’m great at Chinese, but I’ve definitely improved tenfold from the beginning of the semester.
- RESEARCH!!!! Over the course of this semester, we’ve had to work on our Alliance capstone projects. This was basically a project of our choosing, and thankfully I was able to use the research design that I started at U of I for my senior thesis as a basis for the outline of my Alliance capstone project. My project is essentially an English test that is designed to help me find out what the most common mistakes are for Chinese English learners, in a hopes to improve instruction. I’ve been really really lucky and blessed because a number of things just so happened to work out for me; for one thing, I applied for and received funding from an honors program that I’m in for doing this research, and for another thing, I had a few amazing contacts while here in China who have helped me immensely in finding participants for my research. I originally thought I would only have about 10-20 participants (with my goal being around 30), but I already have around 27 tests taken and will be having another 8-10 people coming to help me out tomorrow. For a little undergraduate researcher, THIS IS AMAZING AND I AM SO HAPPY THAT IT’S GONE SO SPLENDIDLY because to be honest so many things could have gone wrong.
- This past Friday was the last day for me to teach English to my little kiddies at the Dantu Road school. We taught a lesson with Christmas vocabulary words and gave the kiddies M&Ms at the end of class. And took pictures. It was soooo cute!!! This was another thing that I’m so thankful for having this past semester; I was honestly just kind of thrown into volunteering with Stepping Stones, but it was such a nice change from my normal routine. It was an excuse to get out of my little bubble, practice my Chinese with cute adorable kids, and get to know some people from other study abroad programs who were also volunteering (and who were also AWESOME). I’m definitely gonna miss it.
So if you can’t tell, I really have a lot of good reasons why I SHOULDN’T leave China………..
But honestly, all good things must come to an end. I’m glad that I’m leaving China on a high note; even though I feel like I’ve finally gotten used to everything and am starting to love it, I still definitely miss home and my home university and I can’t wait to get back there.
What I’ve really realized is that it’s not so much the going back that’s the hard part; it’s the leaving. I wanna see my friends and family, but I don’t wanna leave this country, these amazing people, and this experience. Leaving sucks. Would anyone be interested in helping me figure out how to shrink the size of the Pacific Ocean so that China and the US were right next to each other? Yeah? Okay sounds good.
- 高老师 （Gao Laoshi） (laurencolby.wordpress.com)