Our professor asked us to compose a short essay describing our experience here in Beijing, which could be selected for a school wide competition!
The following is the essay that I wrote, which was selected for the competition:
I start by describing my enthusiasm for being awarded a scholarship to study Chinese in Beijing! Then I explain that I learn a lot from my Taxi drivers here in Beijing and that they often ask me where I am from. So, I say that I often ask my taxi drivers if they are Chinese. Which makes them laugh! (Every taxi driver in Beijing is Chinese - it's not like New York!!!) And I like to see them smile because then I get to see their heart and I do not feel so foreign, just for that moment!
Next I explain that after more than two months in Beijing, I went to a lot of places: the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, Confucius Temple, the Temple of Heaven, Beihai, Olympic Park ... ... But the most unique experience was going to The Great Hall with my American university Dean and two Chinese professors. The Great Hall of The People is very Big and beautiful and my American friends liked the photos that I took there. (ironically posted on Facebook) My favorite photo is with my Dean standing in front of a famous Chinese painting, "江山如此多娇." The photograph is memorable because of the location and because it is taken with an academic mentor. During dinner the Dean said to the table: "You know, I've been here five times." One Chinese professor smiled and said: "according to Chinese custom you should say that this is my 101st time to come here! He was very happy because he had learned in Chinese another way to express his sense of humor. I am also very happy because I learned something new and was reminded that the two cultures have different expressions for similar humor!
Last I explain that While in Beijing I have met many memorable people and had lots of good experiences both thinking and feeling and that because China is so big, It will take a long time to Understand China. One of my Chinese friend's husband told me that I should go take a look at some of the smaller towns. I think he is right to say that I am also very interested in travel. There are many places that I want to go: Yichang, Harbin, the Three Gorges Dam, Xian, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Qufu ... I do not know if I can fully understand what I experience in Chinese culture, but I would like to try.
Basically a paper that would take me an hour to write in English took an entire week, many revisions and lots of questions to bring together! It was a wonderful challenge!