This past weekend, we visited Hongzhou. It is about an hour and a quarter away from Shanghai by way of a high-speed train. This was officially our last weekend trip we are taking while in Shanghai. We got to cruise on a boat out to an island in the middle of a large lake. We also went to a large temple, where there was incredibly crafted Buddha’s.

I felt a lot of anticipation this weekend, looking back at how far we have all come along during our study abroad semester. Choosing Lebanon Valley College was one of the best decisions I have ever made; thankfully I have no regrets about my decision. I can now say that deciding to go to China was another one of my best decisions I have ever made; I have no regrets about it. It takes a lot of guts to get through a semester abroad, especially in a country that speaks a different language. It can be a good test of your endurance when faced with so many challenges. Grit–this is a very important trait to have while studying abroad.

I am very appreciative of this trip, it also reminded me of who really matters in my life. Putting everything in perspective and really understanding what I need to do in order will help me reach my goals. It has also taught me how important my family is. They are the ones who are there for me every day through the ups and downs. Home is not a building, but where your family is.

Some of my friends that I have met in China left this week, it was bitter sweet because I realize I may never see them again. I truly believe that everyone should have a chance to study abroad while attending college. The experience requires you to rely on yourself and to be able to enjoy quality time with yourself. It also teaches you to know when to speak up for yourself, because no one else will. It is a learning process that everyone should have the chance to go through.

Classes are going well. In a few days we begin our week of finals. Finals are very different from what I am used to in the United States. I am used to taking many difficult math exams. Here, I have to write papers and give presentations, with the exception of my mandarin final. Mandarin is going extremely well; it is crazy to think how far I have come in a little over 100 days. I realize if I put more time into it, I would be even better, but my schedule does not allow me to do that. I have been told that it may be hard to adjust when arriving back home where most people speak English. Since your brain becomes used to listening to another language for a good portion of the day. I feel as though I am on overdrive all the time. This has become normal.