This journal prompt was a reflection. After a month in China, how have your expectations compared to what you have experienced? Below is Gabby’s response.
Having wanted to go on this trip for almost thirteen years, hearing about my friends’ past experiences, and finally being able to experience it for myself, I can say that being here, even though it’s only be a month, has been better than I could have ever imagined. Prior to arriving here, I had expected the worst; to be thrown into this strange environment, feeling completely unprepared, and to never feel at home. Well, none of these were true. Starting in Shanghai, I think, was the best way to introduce me to China. It felt familiar, like New York City. It was almost like I’d never even left the US. Traveling around allowed me to test the waters instead of drowning in the language barrier. Being here, I now know I never would have felt fully prepared, because everyone’s experience here is different. All the stories I heard growing up, although interesting, have been nothing like what I’ve gone through. Even within the group, each of us has a different family situation, we see things differently, and we each have our own strengths and weaknesses.
I am most surprised at how quickly I fell in love with being here. During the flight, I was thinking through how everything could go wrong, how I would be too homesick to enjoy anything, and that I’d never feel accepted. However I haven’t had one day where I’ve felt that way. Quickly Xi’an has become my second home. I’m always looking forward to coming home after a long day of classes and spending time with my family. When I go to sleep, I dread the fact that there will be one less day here. I try not to let it affect me, and try to treat everyday here as something special. Even if something goes wrong; like getting lost and not being able to ask for directions, almost getting hit by a car, the language barrier, I know that these memories are treasures, and the bad ones will become a funny story to tell.