Above 90 degree temperatures with sweltering humidity. Overwhelming swarms of people. Buzzing mosquitoes. Delicious food. Pandas.
Yup, that’s my tropical island mansion.
Well, I wish at least.
I actually only left China a few days ago, where I am now currently relaxing with my aunt and uncle in San Diego. And to be honest, it feels weird being back to the States. Most likely because I’ve had one of the most exhilarating summers ever, nearly exhausting the allotted days on my student visa. I had to get used to not having to stammer out Chinese to beady-eyed officials or eating from “round table” style dining.
Also, how would you have guessed this was China? Easy. I just thought of things that easily come to mind about the country. But something less noticed about Chinese culture is the Tang poems. For example, take this one authored by Wang Zhi Huan, followed by a rough translation:
The sun sets behind the mountains,
The Yellow River rushes into the sea.
If you want to enjoy even more scenery,
You have to go up one more floor.
Sorry Shakespeare, but it doesn’t appear to be difficult at all. That’s the beauty of the Tang poem.
And why would I want to pick this one?
Simple. The poem talks about going up higher floors to see more. And I love views from above.
Forbidden City in Beijing
West Lake in Hangzhou
Huangpu River in Shanghai
Uplifting? Majestic? Breathtaking? Don’t you even feel slightly more mature and aware?
None of these were easy to acquire, whether it was through hiking up precarious stairs or waiting in sweaty lines for light-speed elevators. But as I am writing this blog now, I feel the same way.
Three months in China felt like a climb, a climb to some unknown platform. Now that I’ve returned to the USA, I feel like I’m looking back down on three months as if it were another grand view to behold. And it truly takes your breath away.
Snickering at that day it rained cats and dogs in Beijing, so everyone walked into Chinese drenched, but we still had class anyway.
Grimacing at that day a 7-year old boy beat me in ping pong quite ruthlessly, as I walked away sheepishly in defeat.
Sighing at that evening I was performing the impossible multitask of enjoying Peking Opera while trying to keep my droopy-eyed friend awake.
Tearing up at the closing ceremony when singing songs with the Wanxiang ambassadors, unforgettable friends I knew I would meet again. Sometime. Somewhere.
Yeah, that’s the advantage of being at the top of a view. You get to see bits and pieces of it all. And most importantly, you get to see how those bits and pieces all fit together to form a complete scene.
When I reflect on that for this summer in China, it’s an amazing feeling. I got to study in one of the oldest nations in the world, regaining some Mandarin skills, learning about politics, geography, and culture, trying new things, meeting new people, all while being surrounded by a spunky group of friends. I am eternally grateful for everyone that could make this possible – advisers, professors, student ambassadors, tour guides, language partners.
I am now of the belief that you have friends all around the world. You just haven’t met them yet.
So for now, until next time!