Travel Journal #8 – Not Alone

As of this week, the first Centre-in China program at Tongji University has reached its mid-point. The past eight weeks have been nothing short of awakening. I’ve had a few adventures in the time that I’ve been here, but the biggest influence on my experience here has been the students who are studying abroad with me.
On the 14-hour flight to Shanghai, I was seated in a row without any fellow Centre students. Settling into the uncomfortable and cold seat, I prepared myself for what was sure to be an awkward flight with the unpleasant older couple seated next to me. That is until Matt and Tyler convinced the man sitting next to them flying alone to switch seats with me. Even though I thanked them profusely at the time, I can’t really express how grateful I was to not be alone at the beginning of our overseas adventure.
By the end of our first month, we all had settled into our new city. Yet no one’s Chinese was good enough to really communicate with any native speakers yet. To make matters worse, I had run out of minutes on my Chinese cell phone and I had to reload minutes—in Chinese. However, I was lucky because Rachel had already gone to the store to reload minutes on her phone and she was gracious enough to accompany me to load minutes on mine. Fifteen minutes after walking into the supermarket and after a lot of pointing and stuttering, we emerged triumphant and ready to make phone calls.boat
The beginning of October brought in a new wave of stress that we weren’t really prepared for. However, some fun was managed to be had when Laurel invited our group to help her parents serve refreshments at a party they were throwing. When we arrived in our very sub-par pirate costumes while everyone else was dressed to impress (as pirates), I felt more out of place than I had in a while. Nevertheless, Laurel’s family made us feel so welcome that we couldn’t help but enjoy the party and let go of some of the stress that had been building up for all of us.
This highlight reel wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention how Logan and Ashlyn are always willing to help us out even though they had homework of their own. And Corey always lets people hang out in his room when they need some company; he’s also good for a laugh. Matt is a constant source of encouragement in class, regardless of whether or not you actually did well that day. Morgan has saved me from being hit by a car more times than I can count. Claire’s quote book will forever hold some of the most infamous sayings of our adventures and her love of horses has rubbed off on all of us. Emily always makes sure we don’t underpay at restaurants, which surprisingly happens a lot. Finally, Hunt gives us our daily dose of southern charm if we’re ever feeling too homesick.
Before we arrived in China, I thought I had a decent impression of my classmates—their general likes and dislikes, habit, hobbies, and so on—but I didn’t realize how close we would all become. Here’s to eight more weeks and many more adventures!
 
by Morgan Whitehead ’15, currently participating in the Centre-in-China study abroad program. Learn more about study abroad in China.
 
PHOTOS: The park near the Shanghai museum (top of page). Pirate party boat on the river (above right).

By |2013-10-30T14:32:50+00:00October 30th, 2013|News, Study Abroad, Travel Journals - China|