Simply surrounded by people ... everywhere

Simply surrounded by people ... everywhere

Stephanie Diehl

Meet ... Stephanie Diehl

China Study Abroad Major: International Business
Location: Beijing, China
Studying: Spending four weeks immersed in the Chinese culture while visiting majestic, historical sites and studying at the prestigious Institute of Chinese as Second Language of Peking University.

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Just because you take a class for two semesters doesn’t mean you’re an expert at it, no matter what subject it may be. This is especially true when it comes to a language because language is always changing. And with Chinese it’s hard because the symbols aren’t easy to remember, at least for me. I mean, yeah sure I know the basics, but that’s about it. So when I went to take the placement test, the second day I was here in China I was a little overwhelmed.

It all seemed so hard and I didn’t think I could answer even one question correctly. As I looked around the room, it seemed as if almost everyone else knew what they were doing (with the exception of the few from our group that have never taken any Chinese classes.) I was a little worried because after all I didn’t want to be put in the lowest level and have to re-learn everything I have already. I came here to learn, after all. Turns out I wasn’t the only one that didn’t know anything on the test.

When the first day of classes came, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Would the teacher know a lot of English? Or would the teacher just speak Chinese? We were given textbooks the day before, after we took our placement tests. I had gone through to see what kind of exercises I would be doing and how hard the class would be. When I first opened the book up it seemed as if there were a lot of things I had already learned but a good amount of material that I haven’t learned yet. When we got to the class, we met our teachers who are all really nice. The class ended up being a perfect fit for me and I enjoy it a lot because not only is it teaching me new things but it’s also reinforcing the things I have already learned.

You know the old saying ‘you don’t really know what you have till it’s gone?’ Well I for one now know it to be too true. It’s not that I don’t like it here in Beijing or anything, but there are many differences between China and the U.S. that makes me realize everything I have at home that I have taken for granted.

Food is a prime example of something I have taken for granted. There have been so many times when I have said ‘I don’t like that’ or maybe just ‘I don’t want to try that, I just want something else’ when maybe I should have just tried what it was and maybe I would have liked it. For being a picky eater, I knew what I was getting into here. I knew there wouldn’t be much food I would like, however I was hoping and praying there would be a little something that could keep me going. Yes, I have been trying the food and I haven’t liked everything but this trip has taught me to open up and try new things.

Have you ever been somewhere and thought to yourself, ‘where did all these people come from?’

Well, I have many times, but it’s never been worse than it has been here. It doesn’t seem to matter where you are or where you’re going; there are always a lot of people everywhere. I did know that there is an overpopulated country, but I never really thought anything of it.

One night, a group of us decided to take the subway to get dinner and see more of the city. There ended up being so many people on the first train that we couldn’t even fit and had to wait for the next one. We didn’t really mind because the subway comes every five minutes or so.

Once on the subway, there were many stops until we had to get off, and during these stops, the train got to be so crowded that there was barely any room to move. It wasn’t until the end of the ride where this worried me. When the train doors opened at the stop we were to get off at, and some people rushed out, many people rushed on. Because many people got on and not so many got off, I got blocked from the exit, while everyone in my group had already gotten off the train. Just as the doors were about to shut and keep me in, I was pulled out. This helped me realize just how overpopulated China is.

Our first Saturday here we visited Tian’an men Square and the Forbidden City in Beijing. The Forbidden City was extremely big and really nice, with each building as beautiful as the next. There were so many things to see, such as the throne and all the rooms the emperors had lived in, as well as just admiring the artwork on the buildings, but we didn’t have much time. It was really hard to see everything though because there was a massive amount of people there. We learned that it took sixteen years to build this city, and on the way there I was wondering why it would take such a long time, but it wasn’t until we got there that I could realize that it must have taken a lot of time to put such detail on each building. The buildings are all preserved, leaving each with a beautiful design on each. All together it was just a beautiful city.

    — Stephanie Diehl, international business major