Shivam is from Saratoga, CA and participated in the Chinese Summer program 2019 in China.
As exciting as the prospect of studying abroad for an extended period of time is, there also many questions, concerns and worries. What food will I get to I eat? Will I get along well with my host family? Will I make friends? Will it be hard to learn the language? Questions like these tend to dominate one’s mind before embarking on a life-changing journey such as this one, at least for me they did. Each and everyone one of these concerns evaporated quickly as I became acquainted with my host family, teachers, language partners, and my fellow NSLI-Y participants.
Most days started out with me springing out of bed, excited to start the day! I’d get ready for school, and greet my family with ”早！” (Morning!) and proceed to the breakfast table. My host family would sit around the table, and I would get to eat a meal like I had never experienced before…at least for breakfast! The usual meal of hot dumplings and a glass of almost boiling water was something to get used to! I went to school with my ID and schoolbag in tow, greeting my friends and language partners. The days always started with a game of 乒乓球(ping pong!), a singles match, and as more people came in, it turned into a doubles match, and eventually an eight-player king of the hill game!
The next six hours were nothing short of an enlightening experience. Every day, the teachers, language partners, and my fellow NSLI-Y participants brought a level of enthusiasm and excitement in class that I have never witnessed. My teachers, Roy, and Bai Laoshi are probably some of the funniest and most interesting people I have ever met! As for the food at school, 回锅肉 (Twice steamed pork), and 西红柿炒鸡蛋 (Scrambled eggs and tomatoes) were my all-time favorites.
The six weeks went by fast, and were well above and beyond my expectations. Apart from improving my Chinese significantly, my most cherished memories were the people, the food, the sights, and of course, all the great friendships I made, Chinese and American!
If you are interested in languages, if you are interested in foreign cultures, and if you want a once in a lifetime experience, I highly recommend applying to the NSLI-Y program. Below are five special memories of my time in China.