(More coming soon!)
(More coming soon!)
It's crazy to think that a year ago I had just come back from one of the most impacting, memorable experiences of my life. For my final semester of University, I accepted the challenge of doing a study abroad in the one place in the world I expected would stretch me and try me the most: China.
From the impressions of China I had before arriving, I thought it would be a major culture shock for me. Despite having traveled extensively in Asia, my concentrations had been primarily on Japan, which is virtually China's cultural opposite. Whereas I had learned to adapt to the Japanese lifestyle and way of thinking, China remained an enigma to me, appearing both brazen and (honestly) uncouth in rules of interaction with others. My initial impression from dealing with so many Chinese tourists in the USA was that the Chinese were loud, pushy, and stubborn. While perhaps there are some elements of truth in these accusations, I realized that these were ultimately my own misunderstandings rooted in a lack of cultural knowledge. Once in China, when I decided to accept things as they were rather than holding them to the cultural expectations of Japan or America, I found that I not only enjoyed my experience, but relished it. I not only learned to interact with the Chinese people, I craved relationships with them. I was challenged, and I did grow...but peacefully, without the opposition I was so convinced I would face. After years of struggling with issues of identity and purpose, I felt like I had burst out of my insecurities and truly, freely, deeply developed a love for both my life and for those around me.
China was my medicine, the Chinese people and my incredible classmates were the much-needed treatment to the festering ailment in my soul. The beauty of the country, the unique experiences, the irreplaceable memories...all of it filled me with a desire for a meaningful future and a growing passion for life I had long-since left behind.
In China, I found myself. In China, I recovered the open acceptance for others I had buried for so long. In China, I became reacquainted with God. Despite everything I supposed before arriving--all the inward struggle I expected to face, all the culture clashes and homesickness I was convinced I would be confronted with despite my experience with travel, I found I was wonderfully wrong. In fact, I found the opposite was true. Against all odds, China, it seems, captured my sense of wonder.
This is the story of how China became my second love.