As I was answering the CET Summer evaluation questionnaire, it made me reminiscence over all the fun times I’ve had these past two weeks.
Having a Chinese roommate is definitely amazing. While I did not particularly enjoy sharing a room, I do love my roommate. Yang Yuan would just conversate with me (and sometimes her boyfriend through video call). She did not automatically correct my Chinese but let me use Chinglish to communicate with her. She would help me with my homework because there were many times when we had to interview a Chinese native. I would always have to remind her to simplify her answers, and she would find that hilarious. We would also plan outings. On those days, she would cook us breakfast, which would keep me full until dinner! She finds it so funny when I say I am full, which happened a lot in the beginning of the program, but I think my appetite has grown since being in China.
I love love love both my teachers! They are so relatable both inside and outside the classroom. For one of the class readings, one of the topics was about relationships.左老师 asked me how I would tell a guy if I liked him, over text or in person. I said neither and she was shocked. Even after a few weeks, she still teased me about it. It was super cute and really nice that she remembered me. It has been a while since I have had individualized attention from teacher or professors (I go to UT so our class sizes are astronomical.) We were at Chinese table one time and 张老师 caught a few of us laughing at an inside joke. I do not think she fully understood it, but she definitely knew we were joking about something and just joked with us.I am going to miss them so much!
For the field-based component, I left like I both missed out but also gained something different. While I did not take an elective course, I did work more hours for my internship. This gave me the opportunity to almost go to Hong Kong to observe celebrity physicians. I built stronger connections with my co-workers and got to take on more responsibilities. I could see myself working for a similar company to TaoLife, my internship site, but not as the role that I filled during my internship. However, this also meant that I did not get to go on the field trips to see different parts of Shanghai like my classmates did.
I could not wait for weekends because it meant either a day/weekend trip or Nova’s outing! On the first one, we went to the Bund and I learned that China has amazing street food. We got to learn about the history of Shanghai in the French Concession with Lily on the second trip. The highlight was Lily saying that we needed to jaywalk, and we had to do it all at once to overwhelm them with Nova immediately spreading out her arms to oncoming traffic saying she would protect us as she rushed us across the street. At the temple, we got to see the beautiful godly statues. At the last outing, we got to learn more about ancient, Chinese art. I ran in the pouring rain (Shanghai’s weather is very similar to Texas’s. It can be sunny one minute and raining cats and dogs the next!) to attend the outing. I was at a museum with my roommate earlier. In the end, all my friends got fans (maybe because they volunteered to participate, but who knows) and I did not. I asked Nova if she could see if they had an extra fan, and with Super Nova’s superpowers, she got me a fan!
The CET staff is phenomenal! I do not know how everyone does it, but they respond so quickly. Nova must have her phone glued to her hand. She is ready with any answer you may think of a question for. Jeremy is incredible with giving advice both academically and traveling. Xinjin is so friendly whenever I go bring her “gifts” aka my tickets. Jenny literally handles everything, and I just go pick up my paperwork. They are amazing!
The reimbursement system is actually so motivating. It may not be that much, but it encourages us (especially the roommates) to go out. This meant they would actively search for events to go to. I definitely would not have done half the things if other Chinese roommates had not known about it and invited me. I can now saw that I have been at the top of Shanghai three times, each time in different skyscrapers!
The one advice I would give is to just say yes. The more events or trips you go on, the more you’ll be invited to later. I remember during orientation, I was eavesdropping on a conversation. They were planning a trip to the Bund. I asked if I could tag along. Even though I ended up going to the Bund with a different group, one of the people invited me to go to Disneyland the following weekend. One of the most magical weekends ever! Not only did I get the tickets at a discount (her roommate used to work for Disneyland), but she was able to guide us around and we got to do everything!
While this is not negative, it is not ideal either. I am an ABC, so to anyone who just sees me, I look Chinese. Then they hear me speak and stumble over my words and realize that I am not. This happened multiple times during my day trip in Hangzhou where people did not believe me when I told them that I was American. This made me question my own identity. I wonder if I am Chinese enough in China or American enough in America when I go back. I feel like I have picked up a few Chinese habits. I am definitely more aggressive on public transportations, but I feel like that will fade. I think my eating habits are readjusting since I am eating less (or at least the same amount I after before the program). I will be weird not speaking Chinese whenever I go out. I did spend two months in Poland last summer, but it was not as immersive as two months in Shanghai. I did not struggle with re-entry then, and I do not anticipate on struggling this time. I think I am fairly good at adapting to my surroundings, so coming to China was not super hard even though I have never been to Asia before this trip. However, I was raised in a Chinese-influences household. Returning to the states should not be that difficult, but leaving China leaves a lump in my throat.