I can say with confidence that the two weeks I spent in China were the best two weeks of my life. I learned so much, and could not have had a better overall experience with better people. If anyone reading this now is considering applying for Plus3, DO IT. Better yet, put China as your first choice.
Beijing started off so well with the Great Wall visit. I honestly wasn’t sure how everything else that would come after could measure up to it but somehow, each day was just getting better and better. The university visits in both Beijing and Shanghai were eye opening as I learned how different the college application process is in China, and how similar the Chinese university students are to us.
Getting an understanding of the supply chain of the smartphone industry at companies like Xiaomi was really interesting. The other companies we saw helped me understand just how tight the ties are between China and the US as far as trade goes. Gaining this knowledge first hand in China from such reputable companies is something completely unique and I’m extremely thankful to all the companies that hosted us for taking time out of their days to talk to us.
China has such an incredibly rich history and I’m so grateful that I got to see part of it during my two weeks there. From the Great Wall to the Terracotta soldiers to the Yu Garden, China’s history is remarkably long and something to be appreciated. Their culture is also something that I learned to truly appreciate, and learned to love. The United States has such an individualist culture and China is a collectivist culture; I noticed this difference in such simple ways like the way that you eat in China by sharing all of the dishes and passing them to each other. I really liked that aspect of Chinese culture because it allowed us to try so many new things.
The Sun Village in Xi’an was another part of the trip that I truly enjoyed, and I hope that one day I can go back and see them again. I love the mission of the organization and I had a lot of fun interacting with the kids that day, even if we couldn’t easily communicate with each other.
I made “Zàijiàn, China” the title of this final blog because when you look up the word for goodbye in Chinese, zàijiàn comes up. However, the direct translation of this word to English, character by character, literally means “again see.” I’m saying goodbye to China for now, but I know that I’ll be back someday again. I’m saying bye to the other students on the trip for now, but I know that I’ll definitely be seeing them again in the fall. Its funny to think that just a few weeks ago most of us were strangers to each other, and now I can’t imagine not knowing some of the incredible people that I’ve met on this journey. I can’t express how grateful I am to have had such an amazing, eye-opening, and life changing experience after my first year of college. So zàijiàn, China, but hopefully not for too long!