Photo courtesy: crayolamom.
I don’t have many regrets in my life. Most of the time, if an opportunity passes me by, I often think “it was meant to be.” But in retrospect, one thing that wasn’t meant to be was passing up opportunities to study abroad. As an undergraduate student at the University of Washington, I can’t count the number of study abroad opportunities that passed me by. The single piece of advice that professors and other students had was to study abroad, at least for one quarter. I clearly remember my adviser suggesting a Communication department study abroad program in Rome, Italy. Stupidly, I thought, why do I need to study abroad? It is so expensive and I love spending time with my friends in Seattle. And what if I don’t finish college in four years?
Another opportunity arose during my senior year of college when my Spanish professor told us about a Spanish department study abroad program in Leon, Spain during the spring quarter. “I have to finish up my Communication requirements by the spring quarter” and “I need to do an internship” were my two excuses that time.
Looking back, I realize what a stupid mistake it was to not study abroad when I had so many opportunities to do so. Sure, it’s expensive and yes, I may have not finished college in four years but what it comes down to is: you only live once so you might as well live life to the fullest, and I had failed to do that during college.
I’m now a graduate student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and I have been given a second chance. I’m proud to say that in May, I will be taking my first study abroad trip to China with my roommate Tian (who is from Chengdu, in the Sichuan province of China) and other journalism students at the Cronkite School. We will be spending one week in Beijing and one week in Shanghai where we will be meeting major media and business leaders of China and visiting attractions such as the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
I’ve learned so much about China through Tian, who never seems to run out of positive things to say about her home country. For example, food is a common topic of discussion my apartment, and somehow, Tian and I end up talking about the food in China. She always tells me about the delicious-sounding food that’s native to different regions of the country. She’s also verbally painted vivid pictures of the places she’s been to, including Shanghai where apparently, you can see two completely different versions of the city (the more European-influenced part of the city overlooking the river versus the traditional Chinese architecture). But there’s only so much about a place that one can learn from a person, so I’m really looking forward to experiencing it for myself and being completely immersed in the culture and spirit of China.
I will be here in May! Great Wall of China. Photo courtesy: Jeff Adams.
Have any of you been to China? I’d like to hear some of your stories!