After the initial settling period (including, becoming accustomed to my classes, placing my belongings neatly in my dorm, and my overall new surroundings outside of campus within the beautifully laidback city of Chengdu, Sichuan, China), I have begun to feel more comfortable in my new home in China with each passing day.
The inviting atmosphere, and the friendly, relaxed, demeanor of the city’s inhabitants remind me so much of home back in the United States, though the differences do far exceed these similarities. For example, I have noticed that the Chinese, in general, are a very modest and often perplexing people who tend to never truely say what is on their mind. As the saying goes (which I learned while here), “if a Chinese person says ‘yes’ he/she means ‘maybe,’ if he/she says ‘maybe’ he/she means ‘no’.” This can lend one to potentially play a guessing game when trying to truely understanding the mind of a Chinese person. I can only imagine how much more complicated a Chinese woman’s mind can be. Ugh…. I quiver at the thought lol.
Another point about China I believe should be made clear, which I myself unfortunately succumbed to when pondering and planning my study abroad, is that of the state of the freedoms the Chinese have within China. Personally, I felt upon departure that I would be arriving to a country with strict rules and regulations (e.g., “do not do this, do not do that”), law enforcement or military personal always around the corner, and hints of communist propaganda or political influences in at least a majority of daily life. Boy, was I wrong! The true picture of China is not even close to the picture the western world tends to paint and nowhere near what I thought it would be. Instead, China is a land that enjoys many, possibly even more, freedoms that I enjoy in the United States. In China, one can disobey traffic laws at the drop of the hat (being said they are awesome bad drivers. Seriously! The best drivers at being bad drivers. Weird, I know.), one can freely talk about anything (except, politics, but in my opinion politics is not all that great of a topic to begin with, bunch of just BSers shooting BS if you ask me), one can buy almost anything that I can get in the United States (though, one finds out quickly that the merchandise, only electronics, tend to be knockoffs 99.9% of the time. Plus, some amenities that are more western come with a higher pricetag, ex. milk, cheese, deodorant, etc.), and, last but not least, I can safely walk down the street of a huge metropolitan area at any time day or night without fear of being mugged at gun point (why? Because GUNS ARE ILLEGAL. Even most cops do not have guns. Only military personal are warranted for having guns. The only time I see military personal are near government buildings and some sightseeing destinations, mostly in Beijing). I just feel that it is pretty ridiculous that Americans, even myself included, have fallen victim to our own country’s propoganda and very iroinic to say the least.
All in all, each and everday is becoming a new learning experience, and I welcome them gladly and hope in the future to overturn more of my preconcieved notions of China while also learning new things about China’s people, culture and language that I never pondered before until this extraordinary experience of studying abroad led me to them.