No more holding back: I’m studying in China

No more holding back: I’m studying in China

Ariana Winder
Seven days is all that stands between my current life in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and the life I will live for nearly four weeks, 11,000 miles away, at Shandong University of Technology in China.

After all the debating, wondering if I could afford it, deciding how to deal with a job and an apartment I already lined up for the summer, I just went for it and handed in my deposit. “The details will have to fall into place,” I said to myself.

Sitting in McCormick’s (Center) auditorium last March, watching an inspirational speech given by Roy Smith, director emeritus of Quest (BU’s outdoor leadership organization). I was moved by Roy’s eagerness and hunger for all the challenges and rewarding experiences life has to offer.

Roy said something along the lines of, “There is a slippery slope you see … once you say ‘No,’ you will begin to fall down that side and will lose all hope. But, if you say ‘Yes,’ you will set yourself up for success and will ensure that ‘Yes’ is a reality. Just say ‘Yes.’”

Those words stuck with me like peanut butter that you can’t seem to scrape off the roof of your mouth, a gritty reminder I needed a change. I have always been an outgoing person, but my need to know all details before committing to something has definitely held me back. I hope to take Roy’s eagerness with me to China.

While trying new foods, meeting different people or immersing myself into Chinese culture, I hope to do so fully and not forget his words of openness and unrestrained hunger. At orientation, my seven new companions and I viewed slideshows, asked our professors questions and had the opportunity to meet two students from Shandong University, who now study at Bloomsburg University.

The group was very grateful for the two students to take time out of their Saturday to come speak with us. Their stories of friendship, sports and food definitely made an impact and heightened my already increasing excitement.

Moreover, the realization of a language barrier I am sure to face became much more real. I hope to hone my communication skills and pick up on some Chinese language while at Shandong. I was surprised to learn Shandong University is nearly as big as Penn State (more than 37,000 students), has one of the largest libraries in the region (some 4 million volumes) and the campus was so beautifully decorated with flowers, ponds and landscaping.

Campus looks breathtaking

Accompanying us to China will be two BU faculty, Dr. Jing Luo, of the Languages and Cultures department, and Dr. Jim Pomfret, faculty emeritus of the Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics department. Dr. Lou and Dr. Pomfret have extensive experience with the Shandong region and Shandong University, so I am very fortunate to have their expertise to supplement and enhance my own experiences. Dr. Pomfret’s videos from his visits to the area were really neat and included many of the places our group will actually have the opportunity to visit.

While in China, we will visit the hometown and temple of Confucius, the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, archaeological dig sites and various local restaurants and eateries. My family and friends know me as the “queen of Chinese buffets,” or eating in general, so it comes to no surprise I am most excited about the food. I have heard that actual Chinese food is very different than the “Chinese food” we eat here in the United States, but I am eager to find out for myself.

Likewise, I am extremely excited to taste all the different teas and that tea is usually included with a meal!

Moreover, I look forward to the sightseeing, experiencing culture differences and similarities, exploring Shandong’s campus (did I mention they have 19 science labs?!), challenging myself in new ways and hopefully making a few new friends in the process.

Our group of eight students and two faculty will depart from the JFK airport in Queens, New York, on Thursday, June 2. It will be roughly 38 hours by the time we fly to Shanghai, are transported, and reach our final destination: Shandong University of Technology. The time difference between the East Coast, USA and Shandong, China is twelve hours. I look forward to reporting on all my experiences of jet lag and excitement.

Thanks for sharing in my journey and I urge you to challenge yourself in new and inspiring ways this summer!