Breaking cultural stereotypes while making friends in exotic places. My recent trip to Beijing has opened my eyes as an American and as I now focus on finishing my degree in Educational Consulting, I hope to share my experiences and knowledge with others so they too can make a difference in the lives of others and their community.
Monday, July 30, 2018
Day Nine: Only 3 Weekends Left
Why do I do this?
Why do I wake up in the morning and sit down for three hours writing about something that has happened over a month ago? Why did I record each day I was in Beijing? I have pictures, more than I’ll ever need to remember the experience and the people that have changed my life forever.
But why did my experience change my life?
I speak a lot about Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why because I’ve learned so many things about myself and the people around me because of the lessons I read. I learned how to communicate or WHY I communicate in the first place. I learned how to make a difference or WHY I want to make a difference. I learned where my passion for travel came from and WHY I wanted to travel and still want to travel today.
Simon Sinek-Author-Start With Why
There are many lessons that can be learned from Simon Sinek’s book, but reading a book—any Non-fiction book—will open our minds to scenarios we’ve never experienced but want to learn from. Simon Sinek was like most of the today’s leaders where he started with nothing, failed a bunch of times, felt lost and incomplete, and then had an “ah-ha” moment that changed his life. His experience is something we can relate to.
Therefore, I write every other day and allow three hours to disappear, so I can continue to inform the public about my trip, not because I want to show off and advertise the non-profit I went through, but to inspire people to take a leap of faith and travel to a third world country that is in its mist of total economic advancement and development.
China is an economically booming country with the housing market exploding. Yet, there are advantages and disadvantages to this.
For every good thing, there is something bad. For every bad thing, there is something good. China is a communist country and in my blog post about individualists and collectivists, I mentioned that I’m an individualist person and live in an individualist country but wish I was slightly more collectivist. This doesn’t mean that I want the U.S. to become a communist country or that I agree with nationalistic views. I love my country and I love my freedom, something many Chinese don’t have.
But I must go back to WHY. WHY am I doing this? WHY did I go to China?
If China is so different from the U.S. wouldn’t I have found living there difficult? I did struggle at the beginning of my trip and even nine days into my trip I found myself wondering WHY I was doing what I was doing.
Instead of enjoying the intense heat, something that I rarely experience in Northeast Wisconsin, I found myself barracking myself in my bedroom waiting for something to happen. My experiences so far had been only with my host family and I didn’t know anyone outside of the apartment complex I was living in.
As I contemplated my options I found myself thinking about how long I had left. As the title of this blog post suggests, I was counting down the days and the weekends. I was waiting for a response from a potential employer and I was waiting for Dora to return later in the evening. I was waiting for my host mom to wake up so I could eat lunch instead of exploring outside and seeing what the market, right around the block, had to offer. In conclusion, I was just waiting.
So, WHY was in China? At this point, I didn’t have an answer either.
Even with the encouragement from Dora’s Spanish teacher, Anna, a woman from Portugal, I found myself reluctant to take the leap. In Simon Sinek’s book, I read a lot about finding my passion and being willing to fail. For years, I failed to travel overseas. I felt part of my soul rip away each time I failed. I felt like the picture of the woman holding a cup of milk while her hair, head, and hands started dissolving into thin air. I was dissolving into thick, sticky, hot air of Beijing, China.
Dora and I
However, I need to back up, again. This day, day nine, was only one day before I started exploring the surroundings that eventually led up to me meeting other World Explorers through CHI. Once I started exploring, I couldn’t stop myself and I got comfortable in my surroundings. I left the apartment alone. I rode a subway for the first time. I took a bus without getting lost. And I found a way to communicate with people who didn’t understand or speak my language.
Yet, for me to get to the point where I turned my adventure around, I need to speak about the hard times. I need to speak about when I felt lost and not in control of my life. Because of all of these things, as hard as they may have been, are what changed me and helped me as I continued living in Beijing.
I was dealing with culture shock. I didn’t want to admit it when I was there, but I was dealing with more than the thirteen-hour time change and language barrier.
I spent my ninth day like the eight days before. When Dora returned from school and was done with her extracurricular activities, I tutored Dora in English. And this is what I’m good at. I’m an academic girl. I’m not athletic or energetic, but if you throw a book at me, I’ll aggressively snatch my new treasure and disappear for an extended period. (It’s like I was never there.)
I’m creative and I understand that kids don’t want to be lectured. Believe me, I understand. I’m in college and I get the occasional instructor who likes to lecture from a PowerPoint presentation, word-for-word. Now, this works for some people and I don’t necessarily dislike this type of teaching method. I utilized this when I first learned how to speak in front of an audience, but this kind of teaching is bothersome. I knew I wasn’t going to bore Dora to death.
My lesson on the ninth day was an art activity (since she loves art and drawing) and a game that required Dora to wear off some energy. Running around the courtyard while playing Stop and Go Light while teaching about different types of plants and animal life worked well with Dora. Afterward, we sat down in the courtyard and drew some of the plants and animals we saw on our adventure.
Stray animals are everywhere in China.
The gated community I lived in had many stray cats and dogs roaming the courtyard. Many stayed away and hide whenever they saw us, but a few got the courage to sniff and lick us begging for some of our ice cream and snacks. Dora gladly gave her ice cream away and found a small dish to fill with green tea.
Even though I was struggling, my host mom had me pick up Dora from school by myself. She came with me in the taxi but let me find my way to the school and figure out a way to say that I was picking Dora up. This pushed me past my boundaries and I wanted to refuse, but I didn’t. And it helped.
For all my trouble, I was rewarded with a sweet pancake—my favorite street food!
This concluded my ninth day in Beijing, China. Have you ever felt like I did? What was your experience like? Leave your comments below and share this post with friends and family.