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Division of Campus and Community Engagement

Division of Campus and Community Engagement

My Experience Abroad

Visiting a temple in Beijing

by Sha’Nya James

As I reminisce on my experience in China, the feeling of joy and excitement runs through my body all over again. Traveling to Beijing was the most memorable adventure of my life. From exploring the native lands, to teaching young Chinese children the English language, this trip is one I will cherish for a lifetime.

Once I stepped off the plane, I experienced a huge culture shock, seeing very few people who looked like me.  However, there was no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t have a great time. Let the new adventures begin!

Being an African American in Beijing felt like I was living the life of a celebrity. Everywhere I went, there was a line of people in my face wanting to take pictures with me. For the most part, the people of Beijing were fascinated with the color of my skin, and the texture of my hair, which made me feel very special. On the down side, the food, in my opinion, was not so great because I’m a picky eater. Eating fruit and eating at McDonald’s were my main meals for the most part.

Visiting the historical sites in Beijing, such as the Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven were my favorite activities. Walking around, learning the culture of the Mandarin people helped me gain a sense of cultural appreciation. Observing the precise detailing on every temple was like going to an illustrious art show. The scenery was extremely beautiful.

Every Tuesday While in Beijing, we had to participate in a service learning program. My service learning project consisted of going to a privately owned primary school to help young students perfect their English-speaking skills These children were so bright and smart, and let’s not forget how cute they were. Besides sightseeing in the beautiful city, working with these children was the highlight of my trip. Sharing my culture and the American experience with them brought me so much joy, and seeing the smiles on their faces and the expression of amazement that they conveyed made me feel jubilant.

Studying abroad has sparked my interest in learning about different cultures. I definitely want to go abroad again very soon. Now, I am making it a goal to encourage others to travel abroad, and making sure that traveling across the world is always part of my life.