In this video, I give an introduction about myself, my study abroad program, and why I chose my particular program. I also give a detailed explanation about the feelings I am having before embarking on my study abroad adventure.

你好/ NÇ   hÇŽo  / Hello.

I must apologize up front. Though I know all those who read this would not know it, I have spent quite a long time contemplating and editing what to include within my first post on this, my first ever blog. I am quite the perfectionist as you will undoubtedly understand after reading and following this blog in the future. Furthermore, planning and getting everything ready for my impending study abroad, in which this blog is meant to chronicle in depth (both pre-departure and amid my experiences abroad), has led me to procrastinate in unprecedented fashion and frequency. Luckily, the past couple days have allowed me to reach a more comfortable position in which I could put forth the majority of my time, focus, and energy to kick starting this blog. So let’s get started, shall we?

First off, my full name is Christopher Steven Covington, but most call me Steven or Steve-o. Currently, I am a junior, undergraduate student on the beautiful campus of Clemson University, set in the picturesque foothills of South Carolina, where I am pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Modern Language with concentration in Mandarin Chinese while minoring in Philosophy (GO TIGERS!). You may be asking yourself, “how and why of all things Chinese and Philosophy?” Well, the story is quite a long an arduous one, but I will try and keep it short by only iterating the key points.

Born about an hour northeast of Clemson in the city of Spartanburg, I grew up all of my life in a little ol’ town called Sugar Tit. As a child, I had the privilege of growing up in a very loving and nurturing Christian house-hold with parents who always provided me with all that they could give. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mom and Dad! With the help of my loving parents’ and grandparents’, I matured into a southern gentleman with a high set of moral values.  It must be noted that even though I was raised in a Christian house-hold, I was never forced to adopt any specific type of religious ideology at an early age. Instead, I would say, by way of the occasional church service and years of summer bible camps as a child, I was gently nudged with an elbow or two, but allowed enough room thereafter to discover and carve out my own path. This significant element of religious freedom (i.e., “the 1st piece of the puzzle”) in my childhood fostered my ability to become a more open-minded individual in my post-adolescent years, specifically when it came to acquiring a breadth of knowledge outside of the conventional circles of conservative Christianity.

Late in my teenage years a series of unforeseeable, life-altering events (i.e., “the 2nd piece of the puzzle”; the death of my Grandfather during the summer before my first semester of college, the death of a Fraternity Brother during my first semester of college, and the death of my Grandmother the day after Christmas that same year) struck which crumbled the very foundation of the world around me filling me with unforgettable grief and sadness. My personal grieving process was painstakingly long and arduous, but as time healed the emotional wounds inflicted by the multiple passing of loved ones I sought further comfort by exploring deeply into different religious ideologies where I hoped I could find peace of mind while also discovering my own truth and spiritual awakening. 

Even though these close deaths were the initial spark that instigated my investigation into discovering my own religious ideology, it was my decision to take a year off from my Associates coursework in college to seek a certificate within the vocational avenue of Massage Therapy (i.e., “the 3rd and final piece of the puzzle) that opened my otherwise limited scope of knowledge. You must understand, my ever growing infatuation with learning about different religions and their beliefs had skewed my point of view where I was only concentrating on the “big picture,” philosophical-type questions, but the massage therapy curriculum allowed me to become more grounded in my quest for knowledge hindering me from getting lost within the metaphorical “clouds”. The Massage Therapy curriculum specifically turned my attention to the different aspects of the human make-up (i.e., physical, mental and spiritual) and the interconnectedness of these aspects not only within ourselves but as we interact with the environment around us, from human-to-nature interaction to human-to-human interaction. This new range of knowledge opened my eyes to the wonder of the world, from the human disposition to realizing that the world is not some chaotic, heartless conglomeration of events, but instead resembles organismic qualities where it acts and reacts according to its desire to be in a state of homeostasis.  In addition, the curriculum opened my eyes even more to the beauty of different cultures by learning old therapeutic techniques that originated in different lands; such as, Aromatherapy, Acupuncture, Reiki, Reflexology, Stone Massage, etc.

As my coursework in Massage Therapy came to an end, the inferno of curiosity had only begun to awaken within my heart and soul, in which no amount of scholarship on the topic of worldly or philosophical questions could quench. The personal epiphanies that would follow from my incessant drive for education about the historical and ideological elements of the world’s major religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) in the pursuit of my own truths, as well as the interesting aspects of the cultures these religions are found, were euphoric.

It was with these periods of elation in mind that I decided to pursue a degree that would allow me to become more knowledgeable within my specific areas of interest (i.e., religion, philosophy, and experiencing aspects of a different culture), and would solidify future job security. These major factors inevitably led me to discover the possibility of learning Chinese and minoring in Philosophy. By majoring in Chinese, I would acquire a particular skill set in a language which is growing in demand on the international market as China rises as an economic superpower.  Also by accompanying my major with a Philosophy minor, I would be able to broaden my education by learning about the cultural and ideological diversity among the people of China that I have long idealized, beginning with my infatuation with Eastern Medicine in Massage Therapy and my ever present love with the ideology that permeates throughout Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, all of which are deeply embedded in Chinese society.

As you can see, the road was a long and arduous one full of obstacles and learning experiences all of which I would not trade for the world for it has led me to discover myself. And it is here, where this aforementioned story ends and my adventurous, future endeavor of studying abroad begins.