Today started off with me feeling weird. I was well aware it was our last full day in China and I was oddly sad but excited at the same time. I had truly enjoyed my time in China, but I had already started missing home. I didn’t feel like I fit in here.
We started heading to the Yu Garden and it was a humid, hot day out. As we got to the garden, I remember feeling deceived because it did not fit the definition of a garden I was used to. Not that I was disappointed, but I just had a different image in my head. I learned from the guide that the elements that constitute a garden in Chinese culture are: a pond (or small body of water), a bridge, rockeries, and plants. But the main feature did not have to be flowers or plants as I had expected.
I loved the Yu Garden because each part felt small but after walking a few feet, there would be another opening with completely different scenery. There were also many little rock caves and mini tunnels and it looked like a great place for hide and seek or a great place to just get away from everyone and everything. I also thought it was interesting to be in the garden which felt so secluded but look off into the distance and see high rises and skyscrapers. It was like a hidden world within all the chaos of the city.
We headed back to the hotel still quite early in the day and had lots of time to relax, prep with our groups for the last time before our presentations and hang out. I was so worn out I just laid on my bed and talked with my roommate. Eventually, the time came for our presentations.
We all met in the lobby of the hotel and walked for a couple endless minutes to another hotel. Most of us wondered why we had to go to a different hotel for our presentations but I don’t think anyone really asked; we just kept on walking. The presentations were set like a business pitch. I loved watching the other groups present their ideas because it forced us all to think about how we could impact the world using the engineering and business principles we had learned over time. I also loved how I actually understood the physics behind a particular group’s idea. All those hours sweating and panicking in physics class finally paid off (I guess).
Then, we headed over to a restaurant for our farewell dinner (queue for the tears). Dinner was AMAZING! I was full after like the fourth dish I tried but I did not accept defeat. I ate like there was no tomorrow, because when else would I have the chance to eat authentic Chinese food?
During dinner, we had the long-awaited awards show! Let me just say that before the awards started, I knew that everyone would go home a winner (corny but really who would be mean enough to send kids home empty-handed and basically tell them their innovations were absolute trash). So, each group got an award for something. So, no hard feelings. We were all smart and excellent. And truly, some of those ideas were amazing.
Then to wrap up the trip, each person had to give a mini speech. I wanted to cry but I didn’t have it within me, so I cried on the inside. It was honestly amazing to be forced to mingle with people I may never really have crossed paths with otherwise. Even though I didn’t have a relationship with every single person, I got to know that they at least existed and got to listen to their banter and have a little sense of their personalities. For the past year, I have lived with, eaten with, gone out class with, hung out with, and associated with primarily engineers. How refreshing it was to see things from a business perspective and meet people who didn’t have to pass through the horror of physics; it really changes everything.