A Snapshot of SYA China
by Ashley Koo on Friday, November 2nd, 2012
From integrating into my host family to spending a Saturday exploring the heart of Beijing, my experiences at SYA China this year have been truly memorable and life changing. I have been able to immerse myself in Chinese culture, and every day is a new learning experience. Some days, I’ll visit a convenience store to buy a water and will end up having a conversation in Chinese with the workers. Other days, I’ll talk with Chinese students on the bus to Beijing Normal University High School #2.
Having studied only one year of Chinese at Milton, I was concerned that I would not have enough experience with the language and would have difficulty communicating. My host family, however, has been immensely supportive, and with their help, my verbal skills are steadily improving. While studying Chinese at Milton, I fell in love with both the language and the culture. Ms. Zhou, my Chinese teacher, always encouraged my interest in China. Studying abroad seemed like the perfect opportunity to embrace my curiosity and learn about a culture other than my own. I am trying to take each and every opportunity to communicate in Chinese, as I want to immerse myself in every aspect of life here.
As foreign students, we not only have the chance to study at a local Chinese high school in Beijing, but we have also been fortunate enough to take many trips around the area. In September, we visited the Great Wall and hiked for hours, enjoying the beautiful scenery and learning about the Wall’s history. Just a few weeks ago, we returned from a weeklong trip to Gansu, a province in central China. We took an 18 hour train ride to Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu, where we visited the city and explored the night markets. In Xiahe, also in Gansu, we visited monasteries and learned about Tibetan Buddhism. It was breathtaking to experience first-hand what we were learning about in the classroom.
I am not writing this article simply to express my personal feelings about my experiences here, but rather to encourage others to consider the SYA program. Do you want to step out of your comfort zone? Do you want to explore and learn about a different culture? These were some of the questions I considered when applying to the SYA program. I am so grateful for this program and all the other opportunities that Milton has given me. I urge you to take every open opportunity, because you never know where it may lead!
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