Friday, June 7, 2013

Study Abroad: Do It.

Hi Guys! My name is Ida and I’m a rising fourth year in the College of Arts and Sciences. As a Chinese Language and Literature Major, I had the opportunity to go abroad and take Chinese language classes. It was by far one of the most challenging, rewarding, and ridiculous things I have ever done. For two months I lived in Shanghai, China—and looking back on it a year later I realize I learned more than I would have ever thought possible. So bear with me: I’m going to show you what it was like to be in China in the best way I can think of—through pictures. They will each come with a little piece of what studying abroad was like for me and hopefully by the end of the post you will have a slightly crooked puzzle.
One of the first things we did in Shanghai was go to the TV Tower. It is PACKED with people taking pictures in all sorts of funny poses—so we joined right in.
Classes were held at East China Normal University, a school in the middle of Shanghai that managed to be poetic and intimate in a city of 29 million. I went with twenty something students from UVA, split into three different levels of Chinese. We all took two semesters worth of Mandarin.
Once I had my feet underneath me and knew how to navigate a hospital and buy my own food, I felt ready for the world. And that’s when the travels began! Our first weekend trip was to Xitang. It is a beautiful water town with pictures of Tom Cruise everywherepart of Mission Impossible 3 was filmed on the rooftops of Xitang. I was still too afraid to barter in Chinese at this point, but I was practicing to myself in my head!

This little guy sat and watched us take pictures of him. The red lanterns are everywhere in China! Red is an important color in Chinese culture, and the lanterns often have phrases of luck and well wishes on them.
This is our entire group in Hangzhou! We climbed a seven-story pagoda (behind us) and all regretted our choice of shoes.
After Hangzhou we settled back in to finish off the semester. There were plenty of late nights studying, vocabulary lists to be memorized, and “danbanke” or “one-on-one” classes to quiz our teachers with any questions we came up with during the day. Once our “first semester” was over we headed off to Beijing for a week to really dip our feet into Chinese culture.

One of the first places we went in Beijing was Tiananmen Square/Gugong. This is my class hanging out with Chairman Mao in front of Tiananmen.
We were all sure to be respectful and appropriate at all times. Pictured here with my teacher, Zhao Laoshi.
And I finally remembered to start taking pictures of the food! I tried so many new foods while I was in China, and I came back to the States with a new appreciation of spicy and sweet!
Then we went back to Shanghai. Took three more weeks of classes. Ate a few more dumplings. Learned a LOT more, and tried to hang on to all of the things that were happening.

This was our class on our last night in Shanghai. We went to karaoke with our professors and walked around the park that was a few blocks from our school.
So that is it, guys. Here we are laughing and crying on our last night. That’s Zhao Laoshi and I holding hands and pretending that I was not going to get on a plane in the morning. I know this picture is not the most attractive one to show you, Internet world, but it is definitely the best way I know to end this post.
Life in Shanghai was real, it was a mess, and it was beautiful. It was an experience I got to have as a UVA student, and it was an experience I could not have imagined before I came here. Now, looking back a year later, it is an experience I cannot imagine living without. 


  1. This is so heartfelt and sincere. Definitely makes me consider studying abroad!

  2. To study abroad can be hard, but it seems to me that education process is currently being improved everywhere with the help of
    students gadgets.

    1. Ya, you are right.
      In today's scenario, the study in abroad is the most demanded one. Young generation mainly prefers to Study Abroad. This is because these provides various Courses to Study Abroad. Thanks for sharing.