I’ve been home from China for 9 days now. If you ask me what I’ve done since being back I’d tell you absolutely nothing. I spent 30 hours watching all the episodes of Game of Thrones, 6 more catching up on True Blood (I missed HBO in China) and who knows how many others either sleeping or wishing I was sleeping. The time I spent missing China has been every minute since I left Tsinghua University.
UF in Beijing Chinese Culture & Commerce was one of the most transformational things I’ve ever done in my life. Saying that I was a teacher at the Tsinghua University English Summer Camp is giving myself more credit than I deserve because I really learned more than I taught. The students taught me what it means to be humble– they go to China’s best University and think it was luck that got them there. They showed me what hard work was by spending their free time practicing and choreographing for the various camp activities (one of my students Yang Xu deserves an Oscar for his performance of Les Mis). Interactions with people outside of teaching hours taught me that sometimes not every idea that you have needs to be shared because it’ll save you a headache. Finally, just being in China showed me that life is so much harder for people outside of the United States. Down the street from the bars and clubs where we spent our evenings was a tent city. Homeless people sold sad looking puppies for about $15 and the less fortunate begged outside tourist hubs and the subways. Those were things I’d never experienced before and that was city life were the people were better off.
I wont pretend that I understand the world now. What I do know is after spending those 4 weeks in China, I want to spend my weekends away from Gainesville seeing Florida and my vacations seeing America & the World. More travels await me because I want to go places no one has ever been so that the Gator Nation really is everywhere.