After 14 hours of traveling, I thought I would never get there. In May of 2015, I had the opportunity to join 14 other student on a study abroad trip to China. While this trip was my first extended stay outside of the United States, it served as a learning experience that inspired me to travel more placed around the world.

I was selected to go on the trip after taking three semesters of Mandarin Chinese at Xavier, which were offered by the Confucius Institute. I attended the trip not only as a study abroad student, but also as a rising multimedia journalist. While documenting the trip was hard work, I learned what it really takes to tell a story. Every day in China was jam-packed with something new about Chinese culture. We enacted characters from the classic Beijing opera, tasted local Chinese tea, learned kung fu, attended a weekly mandarin class, visited various historic sites, witnessed Chinese acrobatics and conversed with other Chinese students.

“We built lasting friendships”—Michael Nguyen, biology/pre-med
“We built lasting friendships”—Michael Nguyen, biology/pre-med

Each night we were served a new Chinese cuisine for dinner. The unanimous favorite dish was Baozi, a beef pot sticker. We ate duck and pigeon along with several dishes noodle and vegetable dishes. Eating different foods for 14 days straight made it easier for me to try new things. Once the students at Hebei University heard we travelled from the United States, they huddled around us and were enthused by our presents. They were eager to practice their English with us, while we were able to practice our Mandarin Chinese with them as well. After talking to many of the students and learning about their aspiration to work in the United States, I began to understand the privilege of working in the United States. According to them, anything is possible in the United States.

The students also told us how hard they worked at school. Everyone has to test into college, so not just anyone can go. Universities select student based on their scores. I remember carelessly gliding through the SAT, skipping the ACT entirely, and being able to apply to any college. It is truly a privilege to have such a free education system in the United States.
My two week stay in China taught me so much about life outside the United States. I’ve learned that I like traveling, but, most of all, I like doing it as a multimedia journalist.  To see videos and more photos on the XU Confucius Institute 2015 China Summer Study Abroad, visit www.xulaherald.com

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