This past week has been insane! I’ve been running around crazy to prepare for my summer. This summer, I will be teaching a three week English course to rising sophomores at Tsinghua University in Beijing through the UF in Beijing program. My group is 12 students and two faculty members; there are nine girls and three boys, and all of them are new friends. I am one of the oldest on the trip, there are only two of us that are 21! Our classes will mostly focus on foreign culture and aim to enhance the conversational English skills of the students.
To prepare for our time abroad, we took a two week course during Summer A on what to expect in Beijing. The first week was focused on Chinese culture, history and government structure. In the second week, we learned how to make an effective lesson plan and practiced teaching in front of the class. My lesson plan was on weekend activities in a college town.
I do not speak any Chinese, though we were given a cheat sheet of some phrases, like hello, how are you? but I’m so afraid of accidentally saying the wrong word and having it be offensive. The language is tonal so a change in tone could be a completely different word.
I leave tomorrow for Beijing and I’m finalizing all my packing now. It seems as though the weather there in the summer is very similar to that of Miami where I’m from. I had the opportunity to study abroad in Madrid last summer, also with UF, but I can already tell this experience will be nothing like it. The food, culture and language are so unfamiliar, but I’m open to trying everything! I’m so excited yet nervous and full of a variety of emotions that I can’t process them all. This will be an amazing summer and I’m excited to keep you up to date on it!