To my Gyeongnam Girls: it’s Not Goodbye, it’s See You Later

“So often you find that the students you’re trying to inspire are the ones that end up inspiring you.” – Sean Junkins

If there’s any quotation that sums up my Fulbright Korea grant year, it is the one above.

My last day as the native English teacher at Gyeongnam Girls’ High School was Friday… and I’m still trying to process the fact that this chapter of my life is now over.

Don’t get me wrong.. I won’t miss teaching all that much. Becoming a teacher was never my dream, nor do I think it is the correct path for me. However, the girls I’ve had the privilege of working with for the past year are some of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever met, and it is so hard for me to accept that now I won’t have their smiling faces to look forward to every weekday.

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(last class with 2-4)

There were moments when it felt like this year would never end, and there were days when I was exhausted and dreaded walking into my next class. But overall, this year went by before I could even blink twice, and my students provided me with more reasons to smile than I ever could have imagined.

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(Twinning with Jaeyeon)

If you know anything about Korea, you know it is a country of high standards. Because of the pressure to be beautiful and the pressure to go to a good college, many high schoolers go under the knife for cosmetic procedures, and the suicide rate is consistently one of the highest in the world.

Owing to this, in addition to teaching English, I wanted to teach my students about self-esteem. Although my goal for the year was to make my students believe in themselves: to believe that they were good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, I ended up believing in myself because of my students. 20170530_093937

There wasn’t a single day that went by without my students telling me how beautiful, smart, or kind I was. Through the way my students unwaveringly believed in me, I began to believe those things about myself.

I can only hope that I managed to make my students feel the same about themselves.

My girls are so kind, smart, and talented in so many ways. I was constantly impressed by the number of amazing artists there were in my classes (multiplied by the fact that I am terrible at drawing…), and I was blown away by their dancing and singing performances at the school festivals.

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(A drawing by an anonymous student of me playing guitar for them)

My students are so bright, loving, and full of energy, and my best memories in Busan were nearly all owing to them! Lunch conversations about anything from our ideal types to the problems with American health care, playing Clue at board game cafes, singing American pop songs, taking silly Snow selfies… I can’t even begin to list all the reasons why the past year has been so precious to me.

It has also been such a joy to watch students who originally were scared of or had no interest in English become active participants in class! I can’t take all the credit, their supportive classmates and my amazing co-teachers also played a large role in engaging these students and showing them that learning English can be fun!

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(The majority of the English department teachers at our Final Luncheon)

I feel like such a proud mother of my babies at Gyeongnam Girls’ High School. My year looking after hundreds of high school girls made me feel older than my 22 years (also in Korean age I’m 24…). I will never stop being concerned about their well-being or being excited by their accomplishments. While I may not always be present for them in person, I will always be with them in spirit.

I don’t know what I did to deserve you girls, but you were honestly the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I am so thankful that I had the honor to be your teacher for a year, and I will never forget you.

It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later!

Much love,

Sarah Teacher

Next stop: Nanjing! (Hopkins Nanjing Center Certificate – Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies M.A. Candidate 2019)

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Worlds Collide: Past and Present

There must be a thing called fate, because our timing was excellent.

It just so happened that while I am living in Korea, two of my friends are living in Japan, and one of my friends is living in Taiwan, AND we have found time to see each other.

Everyone loves reunions, and what could be better than reunions on foreign soil! Friendship and adventure? Count me in!

First stop, Tokyo!

It was my first time to Japan, and if one of my best friends hadn’t been there, I think I would’ve 1. maybe gone broke, and 2. maybe gotten very very lost.

As you all know, Japan is not cheap. While housing is expensive in all big cities nowadays, I was shocked by the price of public transportation. While about $1.00 will get you from one end of Busan to the other, in Tokyo going a few subway stops will set you back about $4.00. In addition, very few people in Japan speak English, so if you can’t speak Japanese, be prepared for a few nail-biting moments.

However, thanks to my friend Rika (fellow Phillips Ambassador and alumna of CET Beijing), I had a built-in place to stay and a built-in translator (thanks love!) She was gracious enough to be my tour guide for my 5 day stint in the big city, and she introduced me to the food, sights, and sticker photos of Tokyo 🙂

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(somewhere in Tokyo)

(cute or scary?…still not sure how to feel about it)

Everyone says that Tokyo is clean, but I was surprised by how clean. I was also pleasantly surprised by the fact that Japanese people actually smoke in the designated smoking zones throughout the city, rather than smoke wherever they please (like people in Korea and China).

It was also surprisingly quiet when compared to how many people live there. My impression of Tokyo was that everything has a place and everything is in its place: very organized, well-ordered, maybe a bit stiff?

But I was only there for 5 days, and I only went to Tokyo (train tickets are so expensive…), so I will refrain from forming any real sort of opinion about Japan until I have the opportunity to spend more time there.

I was also lucky enough to catch up with one of my best friends from my Yonsei days over some gyu katsu (made from beef rather than pork..yumm)

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Next stop, Taiwan!

One of my close friends from college (another CET Beijing alum) is a Fulbright English Teaching Fellow in Taiwan! I am so glad I had the opportunity to spend 8 days with him exploring Taipei and Kaohsiung!

Thanks to the kindness of him and some of his friends, I didn’t have to worry about housing while I was there, and both food and public transportation are dirt cheap in Taiwan.

We spent our first couple days in Taipei. We checked out some of the most famous sights like the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial and Jiufen, and even fit in some hiking! The hiking left me a sweaty mess, but it was a welcome feeling after the bitter cold of Korean winters.

No trip to Taiwan is complete without exploring the night markets! There is so much delicious street food to try, not to mention ALL THE BUBBLE TEA!

Believe it or not, but it wasn’t the street food that got to me…but rather a New Zealand-style burger that led to extreme pain and suffering.. Because of that trauma, I have been avoiding hamburgers ever since…

Don’t get me wrong, Taipei is a wonderful city, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit disappointed. Since it was my first trip to Taiwan, I was excited to learn what made Taiwan so different from mainland China. But honestly, Taipei felt to me just like any other large city in Asia, kind of similar to Singapore? Feel free to disagree with me, but this was my experience.

After a few days  in Taipei, I packed up my bag and headed south to Kaohsiung, my friend Brian’s placement city! It was in this city that I felt Taiwan’s unique charm, and I encourage everyone who visits Taiwan to venture outside of Taipei!

Kaohsiung has its own quirky, sort of hipster feel. It has a park made from an old steel factory, a beautiful art street with all kinds of murals and street art, as well as gorgeous temples.

Although I wasn’t able to make it out to Kenting this time around…it’s on my list! Until next time, Taiwan!

Last stop, Korea!

I was so glad I got the chance to repay Rika for her hospitality in Japan by hosting her in Korea! It was so fun to show her around Seoul and Busan (and see her reactions to spicy food muahahah – everyone knows she can’t eat anything even remotely spicy – sorry Rika…).

Although she was only in Korea for a few days, we managed to jam pack in a lot of things! We spent the first 2 days in Seoul, visiting all the necessary spots: Seoul Tower, the Han River, Gyeongbok Palace, and of course…spent a night in a Korean spa!

I tried to find us all the good Korean foods that weren’t spicy (although Rika was a trooper when the local ajummas promised the dish wasn’t spicy…but then it was)

We then boarded a bus and headed down to Busan. Although she was only in Busan for about a day and a half, we were still able to see most of the iconic sights: the Gamcheon Cultural Village, Jagalchi Fish Market, Gwanganli Beach, etc.

She also made a guest appearance for my Monday morning English class! (where I told the students I was leaving and she was their new teacher.. heh heh heh. Sorry, but it was nice to know that you guys actually care about me <3).

Having her in Busan was great fun! Sending her back to Japan was hard…but it’s just a temporary goodbye.

Until next time!

Cheers!

Busan Beginnings

It has been a few months since I began working at Gyeongnam Girls’ High School in Busan, South Korea, and I thought it was about time to write an update!

Before coming here, I was a bit excited…and a lot nervous, but working at an all-girls’ high school turned out to be the best placement for me!

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(A picture from my first day of class, and one of my students’ drawings on the “All About Me” worksheet)

I grew up with a lot of guy friends, so I originally though an all-boys school would be a good fit for me! However, after hearing all of the horror stories from fellow Fulbrighters and some of my co-workers at school, I am relieved to be at an all-girls school..

I teach over 500 1st and 2nd year girls in high school, and it is honestly pretty much all rainbows, hearts, and butterflies. They are the sweetest, cutest things, and all they want is to be loved. I am so grateful to my students, who have welcomed me with open arms and open hearts. As much as I shower love on them, they have showered just as much (if not more) on me.

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(Making good luck lanterns for the 3rd grade girls who are preparing for the college entrance exam)

Although my 22nd birthday was only a week after I arrived at my placement, I was so touched when I walked into school and found a pile of sweet notes and gifts wishing me a happy birthday from my girls and co-workers.

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(Cards and cakes and gifts, oh my!)

Not to mention the boxes on boxes of Pepero I got for Pepero day (11/11 – a day to show your love through gifting boxes of Pepero) and the adorable student who got me my favorite plushie from a claw machine!

(Pictured right: sweet gifts for Pepero day, Pictured left: Jibang! – Thanks Jisun!)

Teaching can be exhausting at times, but seeing my students’ smiling faces gets me through it!

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(lunchtime walks with Eunhee, Juyeon, and Heejin!)

At first, adjustment was harder than I expected. Since I was the only ETA placed in Busan, I felt pretty lonely. I am the youngest teacher in my school by a longshot, and before coming here I knew no one. After school, I usually went home, ate dinner, watched some TV, and went to bed. It was a big change from spending 6 weeks with 70 other ETAs with every moment of every day planned out for you.

But after a few weeks of this, I decided to be more proactive. Now, outside of my school I have been taking a yoga class, been spending time with friends and co-teachers, and have been exploring Busan as well as other cities I have never been to before!

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(Striking the tree pose in Gyeongju, South Korea)

(Taejeongdae with my friend Jinsu and coffee with teachers in my department)

(Exploring Upo Wetlands and taking an evening stroll at Gwanganli Beach!)

A new environment means an adjustment period. Now that I seem to be over the hump, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store 🙂

Cheers!

Back to the Homeland: Fulbright Korea

Back in Korea, and I can barely believe it!

Maybe because it seems like it changed so much within the span of just a year, or maybe because I am far from the hustle and bustle of Seoul in the small, small, small town of Goesan, South Korea.

Welcome to Fulbright Korea Orientation at Jungwon University! (or as we affectionately call it, the Marble Palace).

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Orientation has begun, and it has been a lot to take in.

No time to get over jetlag, instead we were shoved into a room for our Korean language placement exam.

Because many of the Fulbright Korea placements are in relatively rural areas, it is important for all Fulbrighters to learn Korean. Therefore, during our 6 week orientation, we have an intensive Korean class taught by Yonsei professors from the Korean Language Institute. We spend about 4-5 hours each morning studying Korean and have a variety of teaching and cultural workshops in the afternoon.

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(Pictured: At a Puzzle Cafe with Professor Choi)

Our hardworking orientation team definitely keeps us busy, but we’ve all been learning a lot and are anxious to head to our placements!

In addition to language classes and workshops, we also have different scheduled programming. I decided to take part in the Taekwondo class (I’ve found that kicking things can be very therapeutic), and we also went on a group trip to Sokcho! (Mainly for the Pokemon Go since it currently only works in Sokcho here in Korea!)

(Pictured right: a temple in Sokcho, Pictured left: Our Fulbright Taekwondo class)

The placement ceremony was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in my entire life. It was during this ceremony that we discovered where we will spend the next year teaching English and what our teaching demographic is.

Although we filled out a survey before orientation to express our preferences regarding our placement: city size, distance from the closest ETA, teaching demographic, school size, etc., we had very little say in our final placement. Placement is a matching process that fits ETAs with each individual schools’ needs.

When I filled out the preference survey, I stressed my desire to be placed in Busan, South Korea. It was where I was born, and I would love to have the opportunity to live there and experience what it would have been like if I had grown up there rather than in the United States.

During the placement ceremony, each ETA was called to the front and given a slip of paper about their school: location, demographic, number of students, etc.

I was holding my breath when they announced my name, but someone was looking out for me that day, because I got the ONLY placement in Busan, South Korea.

I could barely contain my excitement, and I can’t wait to move to Busan and begin working at Gyeongnam Girls’ High School!

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To be honest, I am slightly terrified about beginning to teach more than 500 1st and 2nd year high school girls. An all girls’ school seems like Mean Girls just waiting to happen… but I guess we’ll see when I get there!

The Fulbright Korea program does the best it can to prepare us for our placements, however all the teaching workshops in the world can’t fully prepare us for the real thing. Reward systems, discipline techniques, and class warm-ups all sound dandy in theory, but work differently for each set of students you encounter.

We do have a chance to practice teaching through the Fulbright English Program, a week-long intensive English camp for Korean students across the country. However, for FEP, we teach a class of about 8 students, who are placed based on their English level. Therefore, class discipline isn’t really an issue due to the small size and also we are able to easily create a lesson for a specific English level. There’s also an enforced English pledge, so we don’t need to worry about students chatting with their peers in Korean.

In my real classroom, I will teach about 30 mixed-level students per class. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but I am excited to meet my students for the year!

Sarah Teacher, fighting!

The Truth About Growing Up: Goodbye College

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always concentrated on making plans for the future. If you know me, you’ll know that I can convincingly answer questions relating to my 5 or 10 year plans, and that the future is always the first thing I consider when making decisions. What’s funny though, is that I always thought that by the time I graduated college, I would be just about done making huge life changing decisions. Yet, it seems as though the huge life changing decisions are just about to begin.

While my friends know me as an independent woman who don’t need no man, when I was younger I was convinced that I would meet my future husband in college. I thought that we would meet in school somehow: maybe across the table in chem lab or sitting in the stacks of Davis Library. I imagined we would take engagement pictures by the Old Well and figure out the next step of our lives together. Yet, unlike my friends who are getting married, engaged, or moving in with their long-term boyfriends, I am single, and honestly I have no promising prospects. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that it’s important to spend time single in your 20’s. One of the results of devoting your life to anyone is that you will meld your life to resemble that person’s to some extent. While this is not necessarily a problem in and of itself, I believe that it’s important to spend time alone to discover exactly who you are and who you want to be. Still, I have been a solo traveller (literally and metaphorically) for as long as I can remember, and I always thought I would have someone to share my travels with by now.

When I was in high school, I had my whole life mapped out. I would major in Biochemistry, go to med school, become a doctor, get married and live happily ever after. Everyone told me that once I started college, I would probably change my mind about everything, but I didn’t believe them. That is, until my 2nd year of college.

I would be lying if I said that being diagnosed with depression didn’t change my life. It was depression that led to my decision to withdraw from Organic Chemistry and really rethink whether or not med school was the right choice for me . But it is not the only reason why I decided to change my major to International Politics.

After studying abroad in Southeast Asia the summer after my 1st year of college, I found a newfound interest in foreign languages, politics, and Asian affairs. It was this program that made me take the leap to stop studying Spanish and start studying Chinese, and it was this program that made me realize Asian culture is beautiful, not something to be ashamed of.

(Pictured left: Visiting the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, Pictured right: Volunteering at a school in Thailand)

I suppose this is what pushed me to change my major to International Politics after my experience with depression made me afraid that I couldn’t achieve my dream of becoming a doctor. However, I don’t regret this decision.

While the Biochemistry track at UNC is very strict with little wiggle room, the Global Studies program provides a lot of freedom for tailoring your major to your personal interests. Through my studies of International Politics, I have had the opportunity to study abroad four times. If I had stuck with Pre-Med, I would not have been able to complete all my requirements for med school AND spend nearly 2 years abroad. (If you are still on the fence about study abroad, I earnestly encourage you to do it. When else can you get your school or the government to pay you money to travel abroad??)

During my four years at UNC Chapel Hill, I studied in:

  1. Singapore and Thailand
  2. Beijing, China
  3. Seoul, South Korea
  4. Kunming, China

(Pictured left: Climbing Seoraksan in South Korea, Pictured right: the Beijing fam at the Summer Palace)

From these experiences, I have learned so much about myself, I have met so many wonderful people, I have made so many incredible memories, and I have grown so much. I admit that I faced many challenges during my time abroad: loneliness, struggles with the local language, issues with cultural adjustment (just to name a few), but I believe these challenges have made me a more understanding, more open-minded, and more competent individual.

While some people may say that my extended time abroad made me miss the “true college experience,” I wouldn’t redo any moment of it. It may not have been the typical UNC experience, but I believe the way I spent my time was just as meaningful.

Plus, I believe I experienced UNC just plenty during my 1st and 4th years of college. I participated in the UNC Loreleis A Cappella group, the UNC Men’s Crew Team, Moonlight Dance Team, the UNC-Duke China Leadership Summit, GlobeMed, Extended Disaster Relief, and other activities, watched plenty of basketball games, and ate a fair share of Cookout~

(Pictured left: the UNC Moonlight Dance Team’s Spring Showcase 2016, Pictured right: UNC Men’s Crew Lightweight 4 – 1st Place SIRAs 2014)

We live in a global era. Technological innovation and global trade has resulted in unprecedented economic interdependence between nations. While the nation state is still important, the role of international organizations has skyrocketed. To keep up with the changing times, we must adapt to the global landscape by increasing our knowledge of foreign languages and cultures.

With this in mind, I am excited to announce my post-graduate plans.

I will spend the 2016-2017 academic year as a Fulbright Korea English Teaching Fellow in South Korea, and will then pursue my Master’s degree as a part of the HNC-Certificate/Johns Hopkins SAIS M.A. program.

I could not be more thankful to my parents, friends, and professors who supported me and encouraged me throughout the past four years. I couldn’t have made it without each and every one of you.

Here’s to the future! Cheers!

The Stages of Readjustment: Excitement, Culture Shock, and Frustration – Reflections on my Time Abroad

As you can imagine, after living in Asia for a year and a half, re-adjusting to the American lifestyle is far from a smooth and easy process. Reverse culture shock is absolutely a real thing. (To be completely honest, on the first day of class I couldn’t get over how many white people there were on campus. Not a bad thing, just something I need to readjust to).

For me, the 1st stage of readjustment was excitement. It had been forever since I had seen any of my friends at UNC, and all of a sudden I became a sort of mini-celebrity on campus. Everyone wanted to hang with me and catch up (owing to the fact that I’d been abroad for literally half of my college career). Being thrown immediately into classes, extra-curricular activities, searching for part-time jobs, applying to post-grad programs, and scrambling to catch up with everyone definitely forced me to get over jet lag (quickly), and also staved off the feelings of homesickness for the continent I now proudly call my 2nd home.

The 2nd and 3rd stages of readjustment (culture shock and frustration) sort of both hit me at the same time. Although the friends that matter stay close, I began to realize that while I was gone, everything back stateside kept moving at a pace faster than I imagined. As much as studying abroad changed me, my friends, professors, and family members went through countless changes as well. If you’re like me and you suck at Skype and just staying in touch with people in general, you are suddenly faced with countless inside jokes you don’t understand, slang you’re unfamiliar with (even though you’re finally back to speaking your mother tongue..), and a plethora of new friends of friends you’ve never met (but kind of sort of know from the pictures you’ve seen your friends post on Facebook??).

(before study abroad)

(after study abroad)

WARNING: the food will without a doubt make you long to return to the country you were just in. After about the first 2 or 3 days, the novelty of eating American food wore off for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good spicy Chick-fil-A sandwich and waffle fries with Polynesian sauce (necessary) as much as your next girl, but right now all I want to eat is 해물 순두부 (pronounced hae-mool soon-doo-boo: seafood tofu stew) and 牛肉面 (pronounced niu rou mian: beef noodle soup)。(Quick shoutout to my roommates for being cool and letting me keep a huge jar of stinky 김치 (pronounced kim-chee: spicy fermented cabbage) in our fridge <3).

Besides that, you start to notice that your English has gotten a lot worse than you realized… You are forced to rack your brain desperately for words that you didn’t use often during your time abroad (ex: it took me a solid 5 minutes of extreme frustration to think of the word “novelty” used in the 2nd sentence of the previous paragraph…)

The language skills you worked your ass off to gain will quickly start to slip away (you must cling to these skills as tightly as possible – read news articles, watch TV, listen to music, and chat with friends in the target language every chance you get!), and you will miss your study abroad friends (who all returned to their respective universities across the world after the completion of your program).

These emotions caught me off-guard. I left America with a solid friend group, a low tolerance for spicy food, and little knowledge of the Asian continent. However, when I returned, everything had changed. I felt a bit lost, a bit out of place, and a bit sad.

To deal with these things, I decided to dive into the Korean American community at UNC, share my newfound Asian identity with my old friends, and stack on ALL the language classes I could. Through creating a KPOP dance group, making Korean food for my friends, and continuing my language studies of both Korean and Chinese, I was able to bring a lot of what I experienced abroad home to the states, leading to the last stage: readjustment.

(performing with my KPOP dance group)

If you’re just returning from a long stint abroad, be patient with yourself. It’s a weird feeling to feel like  a foreigner in your home country, but also completely understandable. If you have any questions or comments about my experience, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!

Cheers! 🙂

The Kunming Experience – Food poisoning, the Kunming dialect, and bai jiu all captured in an everlasting spring

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(Photo taken at Xi Shan – the Western Hills – in Kunming, China)

For those of you who were not aware, I was lucky enough to receive the US Department of Education’s FLAS (Foreign Language and Area Studies) Fellowship to continue my Chinese language studies in Kunming, China this past summer. Kunming (昆明)is in the southwestern region in China and is part of Yunnan province (云南)。Owing to the beautiful and temperate climate of Kunming, it is known as the “city of eternal spring” (春城). It is also located in one of the most diverse provinces in China. The vast majority of Chinese people are Han Chinese (汉族),however, Yunnan province is home to 26 different Chinese minority groups. This results in a wide variety of dialects, cultural backgrounds, and traditions, as well as increasingly frequent clashes between the extremist Muslim minority (please keep in mind that this only refers to a small portion of the Chinese Muslim population) and the Atheist Communist government.

Although I luckily did not experience any such violent conflicts during my time in Kunming, it was not a far off concept. In March 2014, an extremist Muslim group launched a terrorist attack on Chinese civilians taking the newly completed subway in Kunming, resulting in 29 civilian deaths.

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(Photo of dumpling making with our Chinese professors)

As a campus ambassador for CET Academic Programs, I feel obliged to encourage you to participate in the CET programs (also offered in countries besides China, but China is awesome and different and exciting, so you should give it a chance~^^)

The CET Intensive Chinese programs are extremely challenging, but also very close to my heart. Without these programs, I would not have been able to raise my Chinese level from absolute beginner to advanced in less than 2 years. Although the Chinese language pledge is intimidating, it will increase your language proficiency by leaps and bounds, and being able to see my own progress has been one of the most satisfying things I have ever experienced. (To put this in perspective, when I first went to China in 2014, I could barely introduce myself, and at the end of this past summer, I gave a presentation in Chinese about how the China-North Korea relationship has impacted China-US relations under both the Bush and Obama administrations).

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(Photo taken on our group trip to Dali, Yunnan province)

The program will connect you with students from all backgrounds, countries, and universities, as well as help you build strong relationships with your Chinese professors and roommates. Some of my absolute best friends in the world I made through these programs.

During my summer in Kunming, I spent a good portion of my time studying. We had class each day from 8 am to 3 pm (split between large class lectures, small class discussions, and 1:1 help sessions). Afterwards I generally grabbed some bubble tea (yayy Coco!) and started working on homework right away. I can honestly say I spent about 4-6 hours studying after class each day.


(Grabbing bubble tea from Coco around the corner from Yunnan University)

However, this doesn’t mean that we didn’t find time to have fun! This past summer, I had the opportunity to learn the art of taiqi. To be honest, I was pretty skeptical at first. How could taiqi improve your health when you just wave your arms really slowly? However, after our first class, I realized just how difficult it was. Taiqi takes an incredible amount of self-control and discipline, and it served as a wonderful stress reliever during my time at Yunnan University. While I must have appeared extremely awkward and clumsy during the first few weeks of lessons, by the end, I could perform our routine with some semblance of grace.

(Taiqi practice at Yunnan University)

We also had weekly outings to different places in Kunming and other cities in Yunnan province! These excursions gave us the chance to not only explore the region, but also to form closer bonds with our classmates and Chinese roommates.

(Pictured left: A pagoda in Kunming, Pictured right: A weekend lake excursion)

 

(Pictured left: A group hiking trip with our Chinese professors, Pictured right: Checking out the rice fields with our Chinese roommates)

In addition, we found our own ways to keep ourselves busy and amused 🙂

 

(Pictured left: Chinese Paper Cutting, Pictured right: A local Yunnan dance performance)

 

(Pictured left: Playing in the KFC playground, Pictured right: Making pottery)

I had my heart set on visiting Tiger Leaping Gorge in Lijiang..unfortunately a nasty case of food poisoning put a hold on that. (Kunming is a 2nd tier city, so you need to be more careful about food quality than in more developed cities like Beijing and Shanghai – especially in the heat of summer).

Still, I couldn’t imagine a more meaningful way to spend my summer, or better people to spend it with! Although learning the Kunming dialect requires more than a short visit to learn, through 10 weeks of intensive Chinese study, I was able to achieve my HSK 5 certification, cross another destination off my bucket list, and make memories to last a lifetime.

If you are considering studying abroad with CET (or any other program), leave a comment and I’ll be glad to get in touch with you!

Cheers!