French & Global and International Studies major
Beijing Language and Culture University
Beijing, China, Academic Year 2016-2017
So. Hello friends and family…hello others following…I’ve received a rather insane amount of generous support from all of you. Thank you doesn’t cover it. This is my predepature blog, eleven days before leaving for 1 academic year to live at the Beijing Language and Cultural University in China. It’s all about how I feel before I go so everyone can get their kicks comparing the me they know before the trip and the me they know after the trip. Kudos to you, all of those who are living vicariously through the brave and young who sally forth into the Great Beyond. Or in other words, find better hobbies. I don’t like anyone. Presently I have had too much coffee.
I am blogging through this outlet because I have received the Haenicke Institute’s President’s Grant award, and have chosen to blog for Bronco’s Abroad as part of my contribution back to all those who make it possible for students to receive these scholarships. This will be the easiest way to follow my escapades and shenanigans in Beijing, China, for the duration of the following academic year.
How am I feeling, how am I feeling. This is a blog, so you’re all going to have to get used to my feelings. And it’s 1:33 am, and I’ve had too much coffee. So yes, how am I feeling? Well, my departure is eleven days away. Only eleven. I’m really quite excited. Here is my first piece of advice to you all, whoever you are, and wherever you’ve decided to go; yes you, you student readers, who are like me. Do not throw money heedlessly at every passing thing. Feed yourselves, eat mostly vegetables, avoid processed carbs, avoid caffeine, if at all possible, but enjoy whatever it is you love, mostly because if you deprive yourself before a huge stressful trip you’ll just cause cancer and brain damage fifty years down the road. Find an exercise you love, work out, go jogging, parkour, hot yoga, I don’t know…and sleep. Sleep a lot. Drink distilled water.
Don’t do what I’m doing, which is sitting on my butt, stressing about things.
Processed carbs can only do so much…
Anyway! It is 2 am! Really, this is going to be a terrible first edit for Korey and her team. I am rambling too much. How do I feel; can I tell you how I feel? I feel rather intimidated. I signed up for an entire year; and entire year. I have spent the thirty minute void between 1:33 and 2:00 a.m. downloading nothing but Chinese news apps and other abstract icons. I have a very nice tablet. I have a lot of very nice, uselessly newfangled pieces of technology, actually. I hope China’s electricity doesn’t fry them.
So…I have some prompts here. I was told to have a message. The only message I can really convey to you is mixed anticipation and raw terror. It’s not really something I’m afraid of…China. It’s not the language; the funny thing is, I’m planning on being a translator and/or Interpreter, but I’m also planning on memorizing phrases learned off of apps in order to survive; literally survive, for however long it takes before actual grammar sinks in. What kind of contradiction is that, anyway? The apps, and the amount of information I could theoretically gain from them, always amaze me. Daily.
I’m really, really scared. Not of China. But of financial details. Of statistics. Of the rest of my life. China is just…a big country full of interesting food and people. Language is an intellectual challenge I decided to meet head on. Math is not. I enjoy drawing bullfighters. Matadors. Google them; they have really the strangest costumes. Bullfighting, I think, is the height and epitome of human ritual…ritual for ritual’s sake; it’s not religious, in fact many find it sacrilegious, it’s not necessary, it’s not done to appease some god…
This feels like bullfighting. And there is nothing I would like better than to draw out those lunatic men in all their flamboyant, vibrant colors and unpleasantly thin tights. I should have chosen Spain. Too bad I really don’t like Spanish. Oh well.
How do I feel. I’m supposed to convey a message.
Well, here, how about this for a message? The world is big. I’ve always known it was big; it’s just…hard to wrap your mind around how big. And I like things all or nothing. I don’t like things easy. I haven’t studied all summer; in fact I didn’t study on purpose. I like that it’s going to be hard. And that I’m going in blind. That my roommate could be some crazy Russian hacker or a worse introvert than I am or a drinker or a perfectly normal boring student with everything in common with me and nothing to interest me at all. They could be anyone, I could be anyone; it is very hard for me to synthesize a message to all this when the entire thing is one huge Unknown.
Anything could happen, anything at all.
But I am going to make it hard on purpose. I will promise you that. There is just no excuse for taking short cuts; short cuts are lazy, and preparation dulls the mind. Everything I have prepared for with any intensity has always turned out as a 90 percent. I am going to do everything the hard way this time. Because that is how I learn. I want a 100 percent. I want to reinvent the wheel and relearn everything backwards. Or rather, forwards, because being born and raised in America makes most of what I think I know already backwards. Manually, I am going to reinvent the wheel, by hand. I am going to make something of myself and I am going to stop drinking coffee and find a martial arts group over there and I am going to speak to random people and use the language every day and I am going to read the newspapers and pick up the books and not set them down and try the fried scorpions and eat lots of poultry just like the doctors told me not to do. I will do my absolute best to have fun without doing anything any sane person would find entertaining. I do not like sane people. Sane people cause smog and pollution. Insane people go streaking naked through the park. That had no carbon footprint. So what would you rather be doing right now? I find that only 2.4 percent of the people I know and happen to like have the unfortunate luck to be classifiably sane. I’m lucky in that way.
One further thing you should know, dear followers; I am not classifiabley sane. I am diagnosed with high functioning Aspergers spectrum disorder. I don’t really consider it a disorder; and it’s a lot more fun than schizophrenia; and I got distracted before I could sit through more diagnosis than that, so maybe I have other problems but I got busy living my life. I am not ashamed of it but I have a tendency to rant like this and to not bother putting ideas into calm ordered paragraphs with sanitized grammar and idiomatic phrasing, the like of which bothers me. I am very prone to being annoying on purpose just for fun.
So if that bothers you go find someone else’s blog. This Bronco’s Abroad site is really a wonderful resource that you should take advantage of, if you have time in your day. Oh, and the prompts. Yes, I should address the prompts. At least this once, for courtesy’s sake.
- How did I decide the location of my study abroad? What factors…
I like Chinese, and it’s useful, and I took lessons with the Modern Chinese School of Kalamazoo. I was also in their Lion Dance group. A lot of my friends are Asian; I have an unhealthy relationship with pot stickers; sushi brings out the glutton in me; I just got tired of France and French materialism. Really, I mean, get over whine and clothing. Please.
- My biggest fears.
I mentioned that; money, money, money. Feeding myself, and not spending all my money like I did in France. I bought so many key chains. Went with my high school; did I mention that? There was a high school French trip. Really, all that needs to be recounted was the buying of too many keychains. Have you ever bought a 7 euro key chain? That’s something like 11 US dollars wasted on a machine stamped piece of metal. Maybe I’ll walk the entire Great Wall of China. Barefoot.
- What am I most excited about.
That is an unfair question and I resent it. No. No I don’t. But I can’t answer it, anyway.
- Who was most influential in my decision to study abroad.
Me. I told myself I was going. So off I went. And of course the voices in my head. Most of them sound like Scott Friesner. But some of them sound like William Shatner, Vincent Desroches, Steve Ballantine, Becky Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Salient, my sister, my dog, the lizard under the couch, and, best for last, Sir Isaac Newton. These people (and voices) have either shown love and support, or been generally awesome, through all of my struggles to grow up and become a marginally less obnoxious version of myself. All of them have one thing in common; and that is this. They all want broader horizons. Those who believe they have reached the broadest spectrum achievable at where they are now will never achieve anything great.
- How did the study abroad conversation go with my family. Were they excited, scared, or non-approving.
They’ve shown a lot of support. I’m going to miss them. Dearly.