My Year in China
Posted on: 21 October 2018 by Bryony Rowan in 2018/19
Bryony shares her fantastic experiences of the Year in China
While the big move to China can seem daunting and terrifying, many things aren’t really as different as they may seem – especially around XJTLU. At times you can almost forget you’re in China. However, I decided that I really wanted to make the most of my time out there and threw myself head first into Chinese culture. How did I do this? By making the most of the biggest opportunity I think I could ever have received.
Towards the end of my Year in China a friend of mine told my about a company offering foreign students the opportunity to spend time with Chinese families, for various amounts of time from just an hour one weekend upwards. Feeling somewhat reckless I called my parents to ask their opinion on this opportunity. “GO FOR IT!” they yelled, so with that ringing in my ears I applied to spend my last two months in China living in with a Chinese family.
While it was difficult at times, with limited communication, as my host mother spoke no English and my Chinese was not incredible, I honestly have to say that this was without doubt the best thing I have ever done in my life! Being in China at all is an incredible experience, but the way in which I got to experience Chinese culture, was something I will cherish for the rest of my life. Not only did this experience increase my Chinese language skills more than I had ever expected, I also now had a family to call my own while somewhere so far away from home.
Chinese family life in many ways is leaps and bounds away from family life in Britain, with fried rice for breakfast a common occurrence, and chicken and pig feet regulars on the dinner menu, but I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my time in China. If anything, I wish I’d applied earlier for this opportunity. Being with my family really helped me to experience the ‘real China’, not just the side that tourists always see. I ate things I never imagined I would try, visited incredible places that I had never even heard of before and was even given the opportunity to dress up in traditional Chinese clothing. But most of all, I had my own family and home away from home, and I’ll forever be grateful to the Study Abroad Team for giving me the opportunity to visit China in the first place.
I had the most amazing time living in with a Chinese family, and while it was awkward to begin with after a couple of days I settled in and felt a loved and valued member of the entire family – not just my host parents and siblings, but the extended family too. I’m still in regular contact with my host family and I’m already planning a trip back to Suzhou to visit them next summer. I can’t wait to be back home!