Random Observations from my Semester in China
By Grant Brown – Grant is a GlobaLinks Learning Abroad 2013 Fall Correspondent who is studying abroad at Sichuan University, China. He is from DePauw University.
Grant Brown – Fall 2013 GlobaLinks Learning Abroad Correspondent
As I finish up my last week at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, having just turned in my final paper for my International Trade class and taken my finals in my Intensive Chinese Language classes and both my Kung fu and Tai chi classes, I can’t help but reflect on a few random observations.
Photo with my Intensive Chinese Language class
During my time here in Chengdu, I have noticed some major differences between universities in China and American universities. First of which, is that many Chinese college students believe that high school was much more difficult for them academically than college is. Studying for the 高考(GaoKao – a test to determine which universities they can attend) is extremely stressful and viewed as one of the most difficult academic tests a Chinese person can take. Although studying for the ACT and SAT can be stressful, most American students will agree that college is much more difficult than high school. In addition to the academic aspects of college, there are many unique social differences. I was surprised to find that universities in China don’t have athletic teams or sporting events for students to attend. As a result, there is little to no school spirit and they don’t even have school mascots. There is also an evident lack of amenities ; at least at Sichuan University there is no bookstore to be found on campus, no rec center, pool, or work out facilities. Considering some of these differences, it was initially difficult for me to adapt to campus life in China. But I found ways to fill the gaps – I was able to join a local gym near campus, and I joined the AFLC (American Football League of China) Chengdu Mustangs on which I play quarterback and free safety and I’ll play in my third and final game on Saturday.
Me and my Center, Fu
I’ve absolutely loved my time abroad, but it hasn’t come without its difficulties. About a month into my semester at Sichuan University, I received news from home that my Grandmother had passed away after a long fought battle against leukemia. The loss of a family member is never easy, and was even more difficult for me because I was studying in a country half way around the world. It was a tough time for me emotionally, as I wasn’t able to grieve with the rest of my family members and was only able to watch a video of the funeral service. During this time, I felt extremely homesick as I was missing those who are dear to me back home.
Another instance in which I felt particularly homesick was during the Thanksgiving holiday. Seeing as China doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, it was tough to find a traditional Thanksgiving meal in Chengdu. However, this didn’t deter me from celebrating! Some other American students and I had our Thanksgiving feast at a local ‘all you can eat’ Korean barbeque, and had a great time getting together.
Thanksgiving meal at the Korean Barbeque
But of course I missed the traditional turkey and all the trimmings! And my family…So even though it is difficult to do when there is a 15-hour time difference, I was able to set up time to get on Skype with the rest of my family while they were together for dinner. It was great to see all of them even if my aunts and cousins were a bit horrified at my new long hair and bushy beard!
During my time in China I have had the opportunity to make friends from all over the world; places such as England, France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Korea, and even Madagascar, and of course I’ve also made a lot of new Chinese friends. Even as we all make our way back to our respective homes – we will stay in touch via facebook, WeChat, and email.
Although I definitely faced an adjustment period, and some various cultural and personal challenges, my experience studying abroad in China has been extremely enlightening and enjoyable. I am so glad that I chose to step out of my routine and treat this time as an adventure, being open to all of the wonderful opportunities (see previous blog posts) that came my way while here in Chengdu at Sichuan University!