Rashanna Butler: Misconceptions of China

As I write this blog, I’m filled with mixed emotions.  I have two weeks left in China. In these final weeks I have so many things that I want to do in addition to studying for finals! This brings me to the first misconception about studying abroad in China:

  • Problem: Time does not stand still just because you are in a different country. I distinctly remember putting off things I wanted to do and try, because I thought I had more than enough time to do it on a later date.  I cannot stress enough how important time management is.
  • Solution: Make a list before you study abroad of places you want to go and activities you want to try. This will give you a tentative list. While studying abroad you can add to your list. You may even take things of off your list after speaking with locals who don’t recommend going to said places.  Having a list also allows you to keep track of all of your accomplishments.
  • Recommendation:  To balance the demand between school and a social life, use a calendar to plan study days and times. When your professors provide you with syllabi consolidate them into one calendar. This will allow you to plan your excursions around your academics. * You must commit to the study days.*

Last week I went to Beijing. I must say that it was one of the best trips I have ever taken.  Around every corner was an adventure.  My friends and I decided to go to Beijing by train. It was a 23-hour ride there and a 28-hour ride back. Despite popular belief, the train rides were a breeze. We ate scorpions, bees, and starfish just to name a few things. We also climbed the Great Wall and tobogganed down.  This brings me to the second misconception:

  • Problem: Locals and other foreigners expressed that there was nothing special about Beijing and other busy cities like it. They warned us that the pollution was dangerous, things were more expensive, and that Beijing is overpopulated.
  • Solution: Mentally prepare yourself for your trip. Hope for the best but expect the worst. In addition, do not let other people’s opinions dictate your decisions. However, you should head advice about how to avoid scams, etc.
  • Recommendation:  Steer clear of traveling to the major cities during holidays. The subway can get you almost anywhere.  The pollution felt no different than Chengdu and it was not more crowded either.

I have been fortunate enough to have completed my personal goals, and I have seen most of the places I wanted to. Do not pass up an experience of a lifetime. Studying abroad has taught me valuable lessons both academic and worldly. If you have not taken anything else from my blogs, take these two. Manage your time wisely and travel to any where your heart desires. I would like to say I’m an expert; how else would a Jersey girl end up in China =)

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