I take a lot of time here to step back and reflect on my reality. I cannot grasp how different things are than I expected. To say the least, my expectations were greatly overcame and obliterated. China, and more specifically Dalian, is so much more than I ever imagined it could be. It is so easy to say that and not be able to portray this experience for others back home. It is something that most words are unable to create. I can not believe how wrong I was about my thoughts of coming to China.
I am someone who gets homesick on an average basis… I enjoy my family and friends; home holds a very large, warm spot in my heart. No matter how amazing the place is that I am, it can never compare to home. I was afraid that China would come with a large amount of culture shock and a plentiful, normal amount of homesickness. However, something very different has came with this experience here… I have fallen in love with Dalian. I have produced a whole new trait of independence, in which I am happy with myself and experiencing new things. I have established a love and curiosity for learning new cultures and indulging in it. Although I do not prefer chopsticks, I respect, admire, and enjoy living in other aspects of the culture here.
I truly wish that every American could have the opportunity to travel abroad and experience other cultures. Not only that, but to truly understand and learn about them. It has changed who I am as a person and I have started to cherish the ways of the people here, rather than judge the differences and believe that my culture is superior. While I am proud to be an American here, as it is a more important factor now than when in America, I do not let it get in the way of my raw experience here. There is one particular moment that I have recently experienced and it is something I have never felt before. All of us interns attended the Freshman Welcome Ceremony this past Saturday and it included all of the new MSU students, as well as the staff here. The introduction was underway, and they announced that they would play the Chinese National Anthem, as well as the American National Anthem. This surprised me, but i did not expect what was about to happen. They played the Chinese Anthem first and all of the students sang along to the moving, powerful piece. I felt inferior, as I felt like I should know the words, too. Then, the music stopped and there was a moment of silence. The music to the American National Anthem started and I have never felt more proud to be an American. It is something special to be in another country and hear your nation’s proudest anthem. I was brought to tears and have never felt so moved. It is not something that I normally feel when I hear this song, as I hear it often in America and it is a routine part of events. I will never forget the emotions from that day and how proud I was to be who I am, while also appreciating being in a new place that I love.
An important note that I wanted to make in this blog is that everything is never as it seems. No place can be known until it is experienced first hand. I truly urge anyone that is hesitant to travel or commit to long distance opportunities, whether it be for school or work, to do it. I was scared before I came, but I will never thank myself enough for being brave enough to accept this amazing offer to come here. Every single day I think about how grateful I am to be here. I can write blogs and share pictures as often as I want, but no one will be able to understand the true depth behind this experience without experiencing it themselves. I was truly oblivious as to what this trip would hold in store for me.