“I never thought I would ever come to China”

The reasons for studying abroad can be many. Some people want to know more about a culture, learn a new language or simply want to become independent and learn how to live alone. Whatever is your motive, the reality is that traveling far from your country and your family brings many teachings, but at the same time fears. At the beginning of an adventure, we all have fears and those questions like, what will it be like? Will I be fine? Is it worth it? At the end of our travel, all these questions are answered with a “It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life” because that’s what traveling is all about. To learn, to enjoy, to have fears, to believe that everything is possible and more than anything to make everything possible if you believe in yourself and your abilities. Today, I want to introduce you to Onyx! She is another of our students at G-MEO. The major of Onyx is Criminal Justice and she is currently a Junior in Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. As I have been telling you guys, this semester we have a mix of multicultural students. The parents of Onyx are from San Salvador, Central America. Therefore, like many of our students, she can also speak two languages, Spanish and English. Onyx will share with us some of her fears, thoughts and first impressions of China and its culture.

Onyx Flores

“I have to say that I never thought I would ever come to China, and even less to study here. When I first started the process of applying to study in China, I thought it was a crazy idea, that I was going to back out or once I got here I was going to hate it and be depressed. However, it has been a great experience so far and very rewarding. Adapting to the culture, lifestyle, food and time in China has obviously been a bit of a struggle. I am not used to air drying my clothes, or eating spicy food, but living and learning is something that we all have to go through at some point in our lives.

Meeting Chinese students, “buddies” and people has been very interesting, they are very welcoming to foreign people and are eager to know about you and show you around. On our first day we met them, they wanted to have lunch with us, make plans with us and even help us get around the city. In addition, the idea of obtaining an internship in China scared me a little for the simple fact that I do not know the language. During the interview, the interviewer was really welcoming, he was very interactive and was glad that Gabby and I are going to be interning with him this fall semester.

Although the interview did not go as I expected, I am glad to be able to have this opportunity. I know that my main goal is not to become a lawyer, but interning at a law firm will give me an insight on what type of cases lawyers here deal with and what type of crimes are committed here to have a better idea. China has definitely turned out to be the opposite of what I thought, I actually love it here and cannot wait what else it has to show me for the rest of the semester.”

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National Holiday trip with local friends!

Last week we were able to have a rest thanks to the national holiday. Chinese National Day is celebrated on October 1st every year to commemorate the founding of People’s Republic of China. On that day, lots of large-scale activities are held nationwide. Obviously, we were not going to miss the opportunity to travel, so we visited two well-known places in Sichuan. Bipenggou Mountain and Leshan, Giant Budda.

I’m going to tell you a little about our trip to the mountains. We got up super early, 4:30 in the morning (I had never got up so early in my life). We had the company of three Chinese friends so they helped us throughout the trip. Bipenggou is beautiful and giant. It has a waterfall with very clear water at the first stop and you can find a small restaurant where you can buy coffee. Let me tell you, it was really cold. At the top of the mountain where we arrived almost frozen but happy, it was even snowing. Yes, you read me well SNOWING!! Am I in New Jersey again? The funniest thing is that none of us wore warm clothes so we were more freezed than a snowman. Despite the cold, we had a lot of fun. We ran through the mountains, we played the snowball war, Max my friend made a mini snowman.

Our second trip was on the weekend. We headed towards Leshan, another city in Sichuan which is very famous because many tourists go to visit the Giant Buddha. In December, 1996, the location of the Buddha was included by Unesco on the list of the World Heritage sites. Begun in the year 713 in the Tang dynasty, and finished in the year 803, the statue took people more than 90 years to carve. Pretty impressive if you think about it! Upon arrival, we met our friend Cindy who lives in Leshan and guided us on our trip. We went to visit the park where the giant Buddha is located. In the place you can not only have the opportunity to see the Buddha, but many other attractions such as monasteries, small parks and caves. Additionally, you have to be prepared to make a line for about two hours to go down to see the whole Buddha, but sincerely, it is worth it because it is a piece of art and the mere fact of appreciating something built by hand many years ago is a great privilege.

Here are more photos that we took on our trips.

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“When I arrived, all my worries and stress disappeared”

Knowing G-MEO students

Hello! It is Arianna again. This week, I have the intervention of another student. Her name is Gabriela and she is a sophomore student at Fairleigh Dickinson University, metropolitan campus. She is pursuing a Bachelor in Forensic psychologic. Pretty fancy and thoughtful major. Additionally, since this semester we have many multicultural students, Gabriela does not fall behind. She was born in Poland and migrated to the United States when she was a child, so, yes my friends. She is Polish and American and of course she knows how to speak the language of Poland “bródkowy”. So, I will let you know her…

Gabriela Klipo

“My first week in China was definitely eventful. It started off horribly because I missed my first flight and arrived later than the other students, but when I arrived all my worries and stress disappeared, because I was so interested in my surroundings. After arriving at my dorms and getting settled in it, we visited the Panda Center. Other than the Pandas, I loved the bamboos and other plants that surrounded the center. I was also surprised at how clean everything was especially in the city. Even though there are some parts of the city that are bit dirty and have a smell to them, but when looking at the big picture it is outstanding how they treat the city buildings and properties. Since where I come from in Jersey you would see graffiti everywhere and trash spread all over. The traffic is a whole other story: I thought I would never be able to cross the street because of the amount of people, cars, scooters, and bikes that were just flying around in every direction. I finally had to use the crosswalks and follow the lights, but even then cars were still coming my way. The main thing that is praised upon in Chengdu is their cuisine. When I first arrived and had sat down for a meal I was a bit skeptical because the Chinese food that I am used to is completely different than what I was served. At first I played it safe to see how they cook the type of meat that I am used to such as chicken and beef. The taste was definitely not what I expected! The style of choice of spices was something I never had before – especially the spiciness.

Since I come from a Euro-pean family the only spicy things that we eat that I could think of is horse-radish and beets and may-be ketchup or mustard. After a while of being surrounded by these spices and flavors I grew to enjoy the strong spices and flavors such as ginger  (which is included in a lot of their dishes). Their desserts definitely sur-prised me too, but now I can say my favorite dessert is the rose flavored Bing Feng.                                     I hope to explore more of China’s culture and see what traditions and sense of lifestyle I could bring back with me!

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The first weeks of living abroad

Thinking about studying abroad is one of the most difficult, exciting and frightening decisions you ever have to encounter. Being in an environment that is not yours and adapting to a culture and a system that may or may not like you is something that scares many people. However, I believe me and my friends have overcome that barrier and we are enjoying this adventure to the fullest. At first, I think we all experienced certain missteps and some other frustrating situations that ended as a fun experience later.

For example, the first laundry day for me and Kat was quite interesting, we did not know which button we had to push, therefore, our clothes ended up wet. The machine did not squeeze. We had to squeeze all our clothes by hand and it took us 20 minutes! The fun part was the second time going to the laundry, we realize it was a paper hanging on the wall with the instructions in English… At that moment we began to laugh…

Another example is when my friend Onyx stayed outside her room without the key and did not know how to tell the cleaning lady to open the door. Literally, she began to say
“nǐ hǎo ma,  nǐ hǎo ma” pointing to the door. It’s funny because “nǐ hǎo ma” actually means “how are you?” in Chinese. I am pretty sure, that poor woman was very confused.

The second week has been a little quieter. Many of us are more adapted to the system, we know how to travel by subway and we can at least buy food! Good for us that at least we will return chubby to America! In addition, G-meo has helped us a lot to adapt to China. We have taken trips like the panda’s reserve, which was one of the best experiences of my life. They have also taken us to know the city, especially the people’s park, which is huge and we learned that many retired people gather to perform fun activities such as singing, dancing or just having tea.

In general, these past two weeks have been incredible, exciting and full of interesting moments. I think many of us are beginning to fall in love with Chengdu, its people and its culture that, although different from ours, is beautiful.

敬请期待~~

 

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“I’ve seen things that remind me of my childhood [...] in Peru”

Hello! Friends. In today’s blog, I am going to introduce you one of the fall overseas students from G-meo. She is Kat and wrote, how her experience has been so far in this amazing country and city which is Chengdu. She studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, Florham campus. She is currently pursuing a major in History and something peculiar about her, is that she is American, Peruvian and Ukrainian. How cool is that? Pretty awesome! Anyway, I am going to let her share her experience with you!

Katherine Kurylko

“This study abroad experience has been both exciting and strangely difficult. I’ve been traveling to all over Chengdu by learning how to use the metro by means of my new Chinese friends, Olivia and Christina. Every young person I have met has been so inviting.

They free up their schedule and always offer to take us out to see the sites and even help us with mundane things like helping us find a supermarket or connect to the internet.

 

I’ve been also seen things that remind me of my childhood growing up in Peru that are so similar to Chengdu that I still do double takes. The fresh food available at local stalls makes me feel fantastic because they have the mini bananas and quail eggs that are both difficult to find and expensive in the U.S. which I grew up eating as a little girl. The streets are even set up the same way, with stores attached to homes run by family member alongside international businesses. Even the way People’s Park is used by Chinese citizens is similar, with their food street vendors (that double as food artisans) and public music performances by locals fills me with nostalgia and a drive to see if I can find any other similarities.

I’ve also loved people watching here, which I’m not too fond of in the U.S. The women here have such an elegant and sophisticated style that I would love to emulate someday. Everywhere I go I see women riding bikes and just stepping out for the day in clothes that I would wear to church or an interview. Arianna said it best, “we look homeless compared to them.”

Aside from that I’m always floored by the history that surrounds me, which makes sense since I’m a history major, but I get to see others enjoy it alongside me. I’m excited to continue my travels and see what else happens!”

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The Start of a new Adventure!

The start of a new adventure!

Coming to China was a big step that I took for my career, especially because in my country they never offered the opportunity for me. I was born in Ecuador, Guayaquil, one of the biggest cities in the country. Four years ago, I moved to the United States with my family. I started to study at Fairleigh Dickinson University and this is my last semester. So, I am practically an immigrant, American resident living abroad for her first time which is a big accomplishment for me.

Traveling to Chengdu was enjoyable. The flight was really good and the stewardesses were so kind and always worried about if I was fine and comfortable. Let me tell you, 18 hours of Jetlag are the worst; I mean, I can still feel tired of that. Also, the 12 hours difference from the U.S is crazy! I have been waking up at 4am since we arrived and been sleepy at 4pm Chengdu time just because in America is 4 am in the morning. I hope after a month my body will get used to the time here.

One of the first experience arriving Chengdu was that our luggage was lost. Apparently, they confused the flight and we had to wait about 2 hours to get our luggage. Bad thing for Sara, who was holding the G-MEO sign for about 2 hours until I came out and told her about the incident. Poor arms!!

Overall, these first days have been amazing, and we are having the best time of our lives, I will tell you more about our time here in the next blogs, so stay tuned! 敬请期待~~.

Arianna Lara

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Time to say Goodbye!

Previous Friday we had the Commencement for our Summer Session II students. It was hosted by one of our high school students. The opening speech was held by Associate Director Ms. Sara Luo. She reviewed with a slide show the events and highlights of the Program.

Commencement opening speech by Associate Director Ms. Sara Luo
Student speech at the Commencement 

We invited our students to share some of their experiences and challenges in Chengdu. Every time it is great to listen to their unique experiences and how they felt when they stepped for the first time on Asian ground. One of our students is also a great singer and gave us a demonstration of her amazing talent.

Amazing live performance by one of our students
Commencement Summer Session II Group Photo

Within the last week a Delegation from Norwich University visited the Center to explore further cooperation possibilities. The guests were Provost and Dean of Faculty Dr. Sandra Affenito, Professor and Director of Nursing Paulette Thabault and Assistant Vice President for International Education Thy Yang.

Visit of Shenton Health Clinic together with the Norwich Delegation

Aside from meetings and business related visits, the Delegation was as well able to visit some local cultural sites. Starting with the Wide and Narrow Alleys and a Tea House over to the Panda Base and not to forget the local food.

In terms of developing, they had several meetings with the G-MEO team and some faculty as well as one with the students. The members of the Delegation were very happy to meet 4 of our current students and to get some first hand experiences.

They also enjoyed the visits of Tashui Community and the Parkway Health Clinic.

Visit of the Rose Garden at the Panda Base together with the Norwich Delegation

Visit of Tashui Community together with the Norwich Delegation

Within the meetings and discussions the G-MEO team had with the Norwich Delegation, it was possible to develop a brand new Nursing Program in cooperation with a local clinic. Aside from that Norwich will offer several general courses in Chengdu as for example mathematics and physics and as well, opportunities for students majoring in International Business and International Studies and a reshaping of the Criminal Justice program.

Upon this, and to strengthen the relationship and cooperation, both parties agreed on the name of “City Lab in Chengdu –Learning Laboratory”

This are wonderful news for both sides and we are glad to have such a great partner and hope that everyone enjoyed being here as much as we enjoyed hosting the Delegation .

Thank you for coming, we are looking forward to a successful collaboration.

The Delegation from Norwich University at the Chengdu American Center for Study Abroad together with students, faculty and staff

 

 

 

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We keep exploring Chinese culture!

Walking through Chengdu, you will often find people who are practicing Taichi right on the street, in parks, close by the river, everywhere! It is practiced for defense training and for its health benefits. It was originally a form of martial arts and performed for competitive reasons.

TaiChi is also a part of Taoist and Confucian Chinese philosophy and symbolizes the fusion of Yin and Yang. The origin of this tradition is disputed and follows several possible roots, but it has existed for more than 400 years.

Students practicing Taichi at Qingcheng Mountain

Previous weekend was one of the colder days in Chengdu, this was highly appreciated by our students who climbed Qingcheng Mountain on Saturday. Together with a group Taichi Masters we explored the Mountain and practiced this wonderful art in the mountain.

Taichi at Qingcheng Mountain with a Master

The Master showed the students the basics, and they followed his lead. For most of them it was their first experience with Taichi and the combination of beauty and the spirituality of the place made it perfect.

Group Picture!

Students at Qingcheng Mountain

One of our Norwich students with Yin & Yang a fundamental element of Taichi

After the exhausting ascent on Saturday, we invited the students to a KTV place on Tuesday night. Especially our internship students love this traditional Asian leisure activity.

Students at KTV

The English Corner field trip on Thursday night, led by Cross-Cultural Psychology Professor John Dulmage was a great success. At the local community he shared the importance of cross-cultural communication and how it raises the awareness and a better understanding for other cultures and beings.

Introduction of G-MEO at Yizhou Community by Ms. Sara Luo

English Corner Attendants at Yizhou Community

Yizhou Community thanks Professor John Dulmage for the presentation

The community did not only thank him with a bouquet of flowers but as well with a great children’s performance. Thanks to John, the Community and all the attendants!

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Highlights of week 2

The time in the Summer Session is always quite limited and running fast, we already have half-time!

Nonetheless, our students are trying to get the most out of it. Just this weekend, a group of students headed by themselves to Leshan to see the Giant Buddha. The other day G-MEO took them to Huang Long Xi the famous Ancient Town, close by Chengdu.

Students at Huang Long Xi Ancient Town
Tickets for the Giant Buddha! – Excited Students
Students exploring the Giant Buddha by themselves

Our two incoming Harvard students Perri Smith and Phillip Jones organized our annual non-profit event with the header “Youth Leadership Talk”, on Tuesday night. Among other things, they discussed the “11 Leadership Principles”, the “14 Leadership Traits” and Design Thinking. The later one, especially helps to structure your own life and to lead it actively to the point where you want to be in a few years.

Associate Director Sara Luo is introducing G-MEO
Youth Leadership Talk Participants
Clarification of further questions with Chief Operating Officer Dr. Sherry Sun
Clarification of questions with Perri Smith

With Phillip’s military background and Perri’s on hands working experience, both could convey a good picture and a comprehensive message.

The Chief of International Office of Chengdu Educational Bureau Mr. Yan Yisheng, Chief Operating Officer Ms. Dr. Sherry Sun, Deputy Director General of Chengdu Educational Bureau Ms. Lai Shimei, Associate Director Sara Luo 

Chief Operating Officer Dr. Sherry Sun and Associate Director Sara Luo are these busy with visits and meetings. This week they visited among others, the Educational Bureau and together with Norwich Professor John Dulmage the Chengdu Social Workers Association.

The Professor’s Cross-Cultural Psychology class is cooperating with the Chengdu Social Workers Association. His students volunteered to visit their sites once a week to help out and get some hands-on experiences.

The Cross-Cultural Psychology Class

First impressions

Students interacting on-site

Students interacting on-site

Within Summer Session I this project already brought promising results and a phenomenal feedback of the students, the professor and the Association itself. We hope to keep up a long-lasting  cooperation.

Visit of Chengdu Social Workers Association

One of our current students from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Erika Marohn, hosted this weeks’ English Corner. She explained how our daily life companion, our Smartphone, can be used in its best way as a camera. She herself has traveled more than 30 countries and keeps record in form of pictures.

English Corner hosted by Erika Marohn

Erika explained some small but very important details to get the best shot. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

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A new beginning – Summer Session II

We just started into our second Summer Session, it will last for four weeks. There are 10 incoming students from American universities. The 12 students participating in the internship program also are still in Chengdu.

Here are a few impressions of our Orientation:

Orientation

Playtime: Orientation Games

Playtime: Orientation Games

Playtime: Orientation Games

Don’t forget the Group Photo! Welcome everyone to Chengdu, no matter if you are coming home from the states, discovering China for the first time or just want to add it to your list of visited countries. Two other, very special local students, are high from high school No. 7 and experiencing college courses for the first time.

G-MEO presents: Summer Session II

G-MEO and the experiences you have here will always stick in your mind. Many of our students are drawn to come back to visit, especially our foreign students who tend to visit from time to time. We are very glad about that and are welcoming whoever stops by! Sarah Butcher was a student in Spring 2015 and has worked for some time now as an English teacher in China. Before heading back, she traveled with her father through China and wanted to say “Hi” to the Center’s staff.

Alumni Sarah Butcher from Caroll University visited the Center with Assocate Director Sara Luo (left) and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Sherry Sun (right)

The rest of the first week was relatively calm. The Sunday after the Orientation, we took the students to the Panda Base but had to go back earlier due to the heavy rain. On Tuesday, some of our students went together with Professor John Dulmage from Norwich University to watch the Sichuan Opera.

Sichuan Opera

This weeks’s English Corner was hosted by our German intern, Christina. She gave an interesting presentation about an important part of her daily life, gliding. Gliders are those crazy planes that fly without any engine.

Aerotow of a glider

Gliders

English Corner attendants

Growing up on an airfield and holding her license since the age of 16, Christina could explain a lot and was glad answer all the attendees’ questions. Some of the participants shared also their hobbies and dreams, such as traveling on a horse for longer amount of time or riding a bike all over Asia.

Follow your dreams and don’t allow anyone to keep you from them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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