I’m finally going to China.
I’ve talked about it for months and dreamed about it for years and today, I fly from Orlando to San Francisco to Beijing.
My name is Emily and I’m a journalism senior with a minor and concentration in Mandarin. I’ve wanted to learn the language since I was a little girl. My mom is from Taiwan and tried to teach me as a kid, but because my dad is American, I wasn’t constantly exposed to the language and never picked it up.
When I was a freshman, I figured, “Why the heck not?” Even though I had all my language requirements out of the way, I really wanted to be able to communicate with my mom and her side of the family. Plus, knowing Chinese will allow me to communicate to people who have had such different life experiences and stories.
I’m a huge bundle of excited nerves for this trip.
I walked early in graduation on May 4, because after this summer I’ll finish my degree requirements. Within that whirlwind of family hugs and a lot of happy tears, I moved out of my apartment in Gainesville and repacked my life into two suitcases and a backpack.
Classes don’t start until May 11, and I wanted to fly in a little early to acclimate to my dorm, the campus and the area but it wouldn’t be an adventure without a twist: We couldn’t get the dorms secured for the first two weeks of the semester so we have to stay in a hostel.
I haven’t even had a chance to worry or even think about it—we found out last week. But I think it’ll be good. So what I have to carry my laptop around with me to keep it safe? I’ll get to meet the other girls on the trip summer-camp style.
I was worried about not knowing anyone, to be honest.
It’s been a year since I took a modern Chinese class. Most students go straight from Intermediate Chinese in Gainesville to Advanced Chinese at Tsinghua, but I took a year to have internships and jobs and bulk up my portfolio with articles and editing positions. I actually never planned to go to Tsinghua, but the cards fell into place and the opportunity was too good to pass up.
So here’s to the next 26ish hours of travelling and 3 months in Beijing. And as I’ve said to all my friends and family, to the U.S.: See you in three!