I’ve been home for about a week now, and the reverse culture shock is starting to wear off. When I first got here I remember being shaken by the lack of squat toilets and the absence of signs in Chinese. I’m still getting use to the little things, like being back in suburbia and no longer eating dishes like black fungus or squirrel fish. I wish I could have stayed longer! I decided to take Chinese classes this fall quarter since I miss learning it at Peking University (thank you Professor Qiao!) and plan on going back. I was able to get some good practice, not without embarrassment and drawing on paper, by talking to two middle school students next to me in the plane from Shanghai. I initially helped translate the food choices the air hostess had given them in English, but then I started trying to make conversation. They were part of a group of students on their way to a Chicago middle school for a program that sounded a lot like the one I had just done, one based on cultural exchange with academic peers on the other side of the world. Neither of the two girls had ever been to the United States, so I got in-flight wi-fi to show them some of my pictures of Chicago. I told them about deep dish pizza, the Bean and Chicago hot dogs. To say thanks, the two girls gave me a signed postcard that said “Best Wishes” and “we hope you get to visit Taizhou (their hometown)”! It will be yet another reminder of my experiences during the Wanxiang Fellows program, and the people that made it so memorable.
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