Coming upon the conclusion of my fifth week in China, I find myself in a new state. No longer do I feel like I am a foreigner, but as if I am starting to be more comfortable in my surroundings. This past week, I have played badminton numerous times with my host family and their friends, and they tell me how I am making good progress. It is always a joy to spend time with them especially my host dad who gets enthusiastically excited when I hit a good shot with his canonical phrase “YES!”.
This week was the last week of English classes, and it was bittersweet. It was great not having to worry about lesson plans, but it was tough saying goodbye to the students for the last time. However, this is not the end of our interactions with them; we still have three weeks left of this trip, and there is still plenty of time for us to interact with them.
Looking to the future, I am excited to spend the upcoming weekend in Beijing, the capital of China. I never thought I would have the opportunity to go to the Great Wall of China or to The Forbidden Palace, so I am super stoked for it. I feel like my Chinese speaking and comprehension isn’t where I wish it would be in order to survive in Beijing (as there are no Chinese speakers going with us to Beijing, but instead are going to Shanghai), but I think it will be a great experience for me to test the extent of what I have learned thus far.
Speaking about Chinese, I think this has to be the biggest takeaway from this trip. Knowing absolutely no Chinese at the beginning of this trip to where I am now is fascinating. I hear the students telling me that my Chinese is decent and my host family says I am making great progress each day, despite my problems with tones and pronunciation, but I think it’s great for me to try and learn the language.
I found that going into this program with the mindset of wanting to learn the language and trying to apply it has been extremely rewarding, as I can see the change in the interactions with my host family. Slowly we are starting to understand more of what we each say, and now I feel as if they are truly part of my family. Shout-out to my host dad who never fails to take the opportunity to poke fun at me in English or Chinese, and always tell me to eat more and try a new food.
Going into these last couple of weeks, I really want to be able to improve my Chinese and badminton skills (and my “food progress” as my host dad says), and get to know my host family even more. Anyways, that is all for now, catch ya next week.