I’ve been hesitant to write this post, because….well, writing it means that my study abroad experience is finally over 😦
I’m still not home, so it doesn’t really feel like it’s over. But it kind of does. It’s weird.
Leaving China was a like a dream. It didn’t feel real and it still doesn’t. To be fair though, the day before I was scheduled to leave China, I came down with some sort of stomach flu bug that LITERALLY had me bed-ridden half the day. It would have been the entire day except I had to, oh, you know, PACK.
I was super sad that I couldn’t fully enjoy China on my last day there (food-wise, friend-wise, attitude-wise), but all I really wanted was to get a few hours of sleep, get to the taxi, the airport, through security, and onto my plane in one piece.
Thankfully it all worked out, but not without a call to the airline company to see if I could change the flight fee-free (hint… you couldn’t). But the good news? I slept literally the entire flight. YUS.
And now, I’m continuing my final leg of my journey with a return trip to another country that is close to my heart…. THAILAND!!!!!!!!!!
If you have never heard me talk about Thailand, you clearly don’t know me very well. I studied abroad in Thailand for a year between 2009-2010 and it’s basically shaped my entire life since. Returning here has bee kind of like returning home… I don’t feel like a tourist, and nothing feels weird. BUT although I understand what people are saying to me in Thai, I have an awful time responding (Chinese comes out instead!!! I guess I can thank Gao Laoshi for her amazing Chinese instruction 😉 ). I’m basically just staying with old host families and friends here, just relaxing, catching up, and eating amazing Thai food. Nothing major, but it sure does feel great to be back.
But anyways, back to China. I still can’t believe it’s over. I literally feel like I blinked and now the semester is gone. I have SOOO much to be thankful for this past semester… the people in my program were BEYOND amazing, all of my instructors were amazing, and I just lived in the biggest city in the world for the past four months… and managed to NAVIGATE it, too! If that’s not amazing, I don’t know what is.
But as anyone in this world who’s ever done anything and ever lived any little bit of life knows, all good things must come to an end. If it doesn’t end, it’s probably not a good thing. And it sucks, because you can always say “it’s not goodbye! It’s ‘see you later!'” as much as you want, but who knows if you (and the other person) will follow through? What if life takes an unexpected turn and you really don’t see those people ever again?
It’s a depressing thought, but at the same time, you really have to keep it all in perspective. Getting to know these people was a blessing enough in the first place. Like I said, I’m soooo soooo thankful I know some of these kids. Each and every one of them is amazing and brilliant. I’m going to miss being surrounded by such engaging people who care about China, can help me learn Chinese, and always have an interesting perspective.
As a whole, I’ve learned so much from this semester. Studying abroad is not easy – I just think of the number of times I was nearly ripped off, saw someone peeing in public, became frustrated with the lack of Western facilities or annoyed at how long it took to go places using Shanghai’s public transport – but study abroad IS worth it. It’s worth it when you realize that you’ve spoken Chinese for a solid five hours without thinking about it; when you look at what you were able to accomplish at the beginning and the end of the semester and see how much you’ve grown; when you look back at all the amazing places you went, people you met, the food you ate, and the things you saw. I think the thing that makes the end of studying abroad the saddest is that that kind of learning – the learning you only get from studying abroad – kind of stops for the time being. And you really don’t get it back until you go abroad again.
China is such a cool place and soooo worth learning about. I can’t wait to go home and share what I’ve learned. And I can’t wait even more to go back to China someday in the (hopefully very) near future.
Anyways, if you’ve kept up with this blog this entire semester, THANK YOU FOR READING 🙂 Give yourself a pat on the back. You rock. And if this is only your first time reading, please feel free to read some of my previous posts… you’ll either learn about something new, find a funny story, or find some really pretty pictures.
Peace out China. And USA? See you in t-minus 8 days.
P.S. – this blog isn’t over yet! Stay tuned for life updates, an update on my trip to Thailand, and eventually, lamentations on my search for a real job. But in the time being, I’m taking a much needed break from blogging and thinking. Headed to the beach tomorrow… 🙂 Happy New Year everyone!
- Pre-departure Nostalgia: I don’t think I’m ready to leave 3 (laurencolby.wordpress.com)
- 高老师 （Gao Laoshi） (laurencolby.wordpress.com)