Sarah in China 2009

Last night in Beijing + Dickinson trip

January 9, 2010 · 1 Comment

Well, its my last night in Beijing. I’m all packed, all my finals are done, I’ve bought all my gifts and I’m ready to go home (even if it WILL be freezing cold). Its really hard for me to believe that this is all coming to an end- in truth, I really have man man xiguan le (slowly gotten used to) Beijing and Chinese culture in ways I probably don’t even realize yet. Its been a difficult and long semester but my Chinese has improved a lot and I think I’ve gained a better understanding of the country, its culture and people. I’m not sure anyone could ever understand the Chinese way perfectly, especially when it the country is changing so fast you get whiplash, but even a little more understanding is a good step. I really hope to take what I’ve learned and apply it to next semester and beyond. But at the same time, I’m really really glad to be going home. As interesting as it is, China’s also been pretty stressful and I’m excited to return to my own culture and home base for a while before going off to D.C. I haven’t exactly planned the easiest year for myself as far as culture shock goes (China to D.C. to Wilderness?? to Dickinson) but if nothing else it will continue to be interesting.

But before I get too sappy, I’d like to write a little bit about the Dickinson trip to Sanya on Hainan Island and Shanghai. So after my whirlwind trip to Tokyo (just the airport) and back, I met up with the rest of the Dickinson group at 4 am on Christmas morning to fly to Hainan Island in the South China Sea. We were all extremely glad to go, especially since the weather that morning was bitterly cold and the wind whipping at ridiculously high speed. When we arrived in Haikou, on the northern end of Hainan island, which was a balmy 75 degrees, we really thought we were in paradise. We took a 3 hour bus ride across the entire island to reach Sanya, on the far southern tip of the island- the only part of China that actually qualifies as tropical. It was fun to see the countryside: rice fields and water buffalo to rainforest and coconut trees. Sanya itself is a resort town, in truth just a beach. Not a lot of American tourists go there- it is almost exclusively Chinese and Russians. I was often spoken to in Russian (by both Russians and Chinese) because they assumed. But our hotel manager was so excited to have Americans at the hotel that they had made up a banner welcoming us. It was really crazy.

{{Will write more, but must sleep now to catch my plane. For now, please enjoy the lists I’ve made up about my thoughts about leaving below}}

Things I have to remember when I get back to the U.S.:

  • Table manners: how to use a knife and fork (no,seriously), not shoveling, not slurping etc.
  • To get out of the habit of picking waiguos (other foreigners like me) out in crowds; also avoid the shock of realizing that there actually is a whole state/country full of people who look like me….
  • Not to freak out at how expensive everything is and try to bargain
  • Not to confuse money because dollars are all green and all the same size (hey where’s Chairman Mao?)
  • To tip waiters, taxi drivers etc. and not to yell at them
  • To stop using Chinglish and expecting everyone to understand; English grammar
  • NOT to drive like a Beijinger
  • To not forget Chinese and characters…

Things I will miss:

  • Street food
  • Cheap prices and being able to bargain
  • Beijing subway- not ever having to use a car
  • People I’ve met, people I’ve gotten to know from Dickinson
  • Playing “Snake” on my Chinese phone (sad, but true)
  • Experiencing the breakneck pace of development and completely different ways of looking at things
  • Talking politics and books with my language partner
  • Traveling in China and random encounters with very friendly people
  • Karaoke (Kala OK in Chinese- yes, this is definitely a “you know you’ve lived in China too long when…” kind of situation)

Things I will not miss:

  • Lack of organization, mafan bureaucracy
  • Being stared at, catcalled at, talked about, condescended to and cheated
  • Only having Chinese classes
  • SPITTING
  • Internet censorship (not being able to get on Facebook)
  • Only having McDonalds KFC and Pizza Hut as Wester food options
  • Having the heat and hot water controlled by the federal government
  • The RRRR of Beijing hua (dialect)
  • Pollution (living here has really opened my eyes to environmental problems- trust me, you never want your home to be as polluted as Beijing)
  • Baijiu (Chinese alcohol)

Things I’m looking forward to:

  • Mexican food, pecan pie, mashed potatoes… and the list goes on and on and on
  • Seeing my family and boyfriend and friends and my dog
  • Seeing SNOW at home
  • Watching all the movies on the plane!
  • Clean air, clean water
  • Starting next semester in Washington DC! Living in an apartment, getting work experience, thinking about the future (not looking forward to unpacking and packing again though).

I’ll try to make sure to update at least once with thoughts on my reentry culture shock. Thanks for reading this blog all semester!

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1 response so far ↓

  •   Forex trading // Jul 29th 2010 at 12:09 AM

    Great post.
    You remind me of my first trip to China. Just like you said , I’m back in England for 5 months now and the spitting is something that i’m not going to forget for a long time.

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