My international experience to date has consisted of trips to Canada and Sweden, and visiting relatives in Ireland. My father is from Dublin, so I have been over there a couple times to visit his side of the family. This trip to China will be my first one to Asia, which is something I’m excited about. In addition, it will also be my first time visiting a country where English isn’t commonly spoken.
Part of the reason I’m excited to visit China because it is a place that has an interesting history, as well as an interesting future. It is a very old country in comparison to the United States, and has experienced many different phases or and dynasties throughout its history, each with their own unique art and culture. I’m looking forward to learning about the role that technology and innovation played in the history of China, as many world changing discoveries in the ancient world came from there. In addition, I feel like China today is in a unique time period where it has just undergone a period of rapid growth and economic success, and is now adjusting to being a major world superpower.
I think the main professional work differences that I will experience will be the attention to hierarchy in work relationships that is emphasized differently in China and the United States. While in the United States it is common for people to voice their opinions and disagreements to their peers and elders, in other countries such as China people do so in a way that is more subtle and indirect, especially when with bosses or teachers.
I think one of the main cultural differences that I will experience will be the difference in family dynamics between people in China and the United States. In the U.S., it is common for people to live far away from their grandparents and extended family, partially due to our geographic mobility and history as a country of immigrants. In China, the family unit is more cohesive, and people generally have a closer connection and sense of responsibility towards their relatives.
I think one of the main political differences that I will experience will be the way that people voice their opinion on politics and the government. In the U.S., it is very common for people to openly talk about how they dislike or don’t agree with a policy or government official. However, in China there isn’t the same kind of freedom of speech or press as there is in the U.S., and it can be awkward or problematic for people to voice controversial opinions.
I think the students I meet in china will be a lot like students here in the United States. Even though we speak different languages, I imagine that they also attempt to strike a balance between the responsibilities and work involved with being a student, and also the social aspects of being in college.
I think the major difference in living conditions will be the type and variety of food in China. In the United States, the food is pretty similar regardless of which state you are in. However, in China each region has its own type of cuisine, which can be very different from other parts of the country. I like trying new foods, so it should be a good experience for me.
I think the most enjoyable part of this trip will be getting to experience a country I have never been to before with other people who are my age. All my previous international travel experience has been with my family, and often to see relatives, and I think it will be interesting to travel with other students from Pitt and get to know a new group of people. In addition, the chance to visit three cities, and major sites such as the great wall and the terra-cotta warriors is a once in a lifetime experience.