Traveling was a challenging, but exhilarating experience. Especially since this was my first trip out of the country along with traveling alone. Not only the actual travel time to get from Colorado to Shenzhen China, but going to a foreign country where you’re not fluent in their native language, but it is possible. If you’re willing to be friendly, ask questions and be outgoing, it is feasible. Now, looking back at those moments I laugh because it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I also had my family who supported me and had faith that I was strong enough to not only get through it, but enjoy it.
With my host family we went on two big trips, with up to four hours of traveling by car. The trip was to two new cities, which were quite different than the one I was staying in. I was able to discover a diverse view on the high, middle, and low of china’s living. The time difference was difficult to get used to especially when speaking to my family, with a fourteen hours difference, China being ahead. Discovering this new culture by far was the greatest moment of these three weeks, and of a lifetime. Chinese culture is like nothing I’ve been exposed to. The first week there I was somewhat on pins and needles; I didn’t want to offend anyone. This culture is so different than my own. It was such a joy to see the difference in traditions, like birthdays. One of the highlights was visiting their ancestor’s tombs. We are all guilty of creating stereotypes of other cultures by what we see and hear. Whether in movies, photos, or books. There is nothing like experiencing it in real life. You are surrounded by people who aren’t like you but who have the same struggles and desires as you.
As I said before, my host sister did speak very good English, as for the rest of her family and extended family they did not speak any English. For me this was hardest part of the actual homestay, as I wanted to create connections with the family and have some sort of independence, without having to depend on my host sister for interaction and translation. Which drove me to study their language, to ask questions, and share with them English and Spanish. I suggest if you ever go to China make an effort to learn the language even if you aren’t good, most people are surprised and appreciate your attempt. Words cannot fully describe my gratitude to my host family, to my family, and to AILI for this chance of a lifetime, a notable experience. One, I will have forever in my memories, photos, and in my heart.
“I am not the same having seen the moon shine in the other side of the world” –Mary Anne Radmacher