A Textbook Coming to Life

By Jamie Brian

I started working on my application for the Sichuan Summer Immersion program as soon as I learned of its existence. China’s long, resilient history, its vibrant culture and its warm people fascinate me. With some coaxing from a friend, I was persuaded to take a semester of Chinese. I gained an appreciation for the language and the beauty of the Chinese writing system. I can’t think of a better way to spend the month of July than in China, exploring the people and places described in my textbook.

This trip will indeed be an exploration. I think that it can be easy in life to fall into the comfort of routine and imagine the world as only encompassing what we can see. The Sichuan program is a chance for me to leave this blanket of comfort behind and find out what I have been missing. Naturally, with a 20-hour plane ride to Chengdu, this will not always be a comfortable exploration. There will be meals I can’t pronounce, restrooms I don’t know how to use and customs I may not be familiar with. Also, my Chinese is still a work in progress. Sometimes I get the tones confused and say “horse” instead of “mother.” I expect to make mistakes, but I also expect to make memories in the process.

I have the opportunity to travel the world with my classmates and interact with international students at Sichuan University. I get to travel China on foot instead of from the perch of my living room sofa. I may be a tourist in China, but I am also a tourist in China with a mission. I want to try as many new things as I can. After all, one does not go to China to eat pizza and sit in the hotel room. As a result of this program, I believe I will gain confidence in my ability to adapt to new situations. I also expect to become more tolerant of other cultures. These are skills that last much longer than two weeks. I may be in China for a very short time, but the experiences I have will last a lifetime.

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