Two days left until the end of the program. Lots of emotions are running through my mind – I am happy that I was able to enjoy myself during this study abroad experience, excited as I head to my next destination and hometown, Japan, for my “summer vacation” (I still have online schoolwork), sad that the program is about to conclude, but enlightened as I have learned a lot from the experience. As I am writing this, I have moved from Guangzhou to Hong Kong and will be spending the remaining days here. It has been only a day since I have arrived in Hong Kong, but I have some thoughts and feelings to share about it so far.
First of all, there is no internet available in my hotel room. How am I uploading this blog, then? I have to get down to the lobby where there is internet access. As troublesome as it sounds, I am grateful that there is at least still a way to get online. The person I was before the start of the program might have whined and complained about it, but as I experienced China from a foreign perspective, I realized the things we often use in our daily lives, such as clean water, as I have described my story in the last blog post, and internet sites like Google and YouTube, which are blocked in China, can be totally different or even nonexistent that takes us aback. While it can be a daunting experience, I think it is what makes you appreciative of the little things you have, that you thought were available everywhere. Also, you get to be in the shoes of a person in a different country and view how are they living in their society. Perhaps the question of why various ethnicities or groups of people act or think in a certain manner might be answered. In my case, though my conclusion might be different from others, I understood why the locals in Guangzhou were extremely fascinated by foreigners (I noticed a lot of eyes on me when I was speaking English in public), since apart from being a predominantly homogeneous country, they do not have as many online resources or information about the outside world compared to a country like the United States. When I return home, I will keep in mind of the fact that I am fortunate to be able to get clean tap water and have internet access.
This study abroad program has been thrilling and enlightening. The field trips to museums, monuments and temples complemented with the lectures and assignments have helped me to synthesize my knowledge on China. It is one thing to learn about something from a classroom, and it is an entirely different thing to be physically present at a place that presents you a sense of identity, culture and history. Words alone are not enough to explain how significant this is. You have to experience it with your five senses.
That is it for now. I will fully immerse myself in the cosmopolitan city of iconic skyscrapers and ports before finally bidding farewell to the program.