By Dionna Green
Co-Editor in Chief
This past summer, Junior, Valeriya Zhurakovskaya spent time exploring the different opportunities China had to offer in many aspects. Zhurakovskaya resided the first month and a half of her summer in Xiamen, a major city on the southeast coast of the People’s Republic of China.
The “…spent time in the local Xiamen college studying Chinese, getting to know the locals and for two weeks staying in a host family”, said Zhurakovskaya. The remaining two weeks of her trip in China, Zhurakovskaya resided in Beijing and Shanghai.
During the duration of her trip, Zhurakovskaya learned the Dynasties, the establishment of Republic of China, to the point of the current People’s Republic of China and its tense relationship with Taiwan.
“The trip has made me realize how much freedom we have in the U.S. as well as how our education is relaxed compared to the Chinese education system”, said Zhurakovskaya. She also advises to do not be scared of culture shock in the end, for it is nothing if you do not make a big deal out of small things you are not used to.
“An abundant amount of people who are very fund of Americans/ foreigners whenever my group went out on a field trip or just to the local super market on the college campus the local people would be fascinated with us,” said Zhurakovskaya, “if you were a girl you would get compliments from strangers just walking down the street and people would just stop in their way pull out a phone take a few pictures and keep walking.”
To add on to the cultural shock acceptance, Zhurakovskaya talks of how some locals would spot her group, which included three African American girls who had beaded hair, struck an absurd amount of fascination with the locals. The locals continuously asked about their hair and did not give the girls the option to refuse pictures.
Even though the experience was good so were the people, according to Zhurakovskaya. While in China she made many friends including her host sister, her host sister’s friends, Chinese tutors from the college, as well as the people from her trip.” I still keep in touch with all of them”, said Zhurakovskaya.
With all of the exploring done, Zhurakovskaya had many opportunities to try the cuisine China had to offer. “I tried lizard, squid, a flower dish, bull and all of those things were very good and at the same time very interesting”, said Zhurakovskaya.
From her trip to China, Zhurakovskaya have gotten out of this experience lifelong friends she have made in China, as well as a firsthand experience in seeing how different, for the most part, China is from what people say. The trip has also allowed her to form thoughts and ideas she can share about China which are in her opinion very exciting.
As far as educational purposes, Zhurakovskaya have become better in communicating face to face with people in China and has overcome the barrier of starting conversations with Chinese people since practicing it so much.
“I would ensure people to take the opportunity to travel to new places because it opens your eyes to the rest of the world. You get to see how people live in another place”, said Zhurakovskaya. As Zhurakovskaya tells you about her journey, you gain a sense of what travel has to offer. During travel you learn new things as well as teach new things that others have not heard or experienced before.
“It is a wonderful feeling to come back and notice how things are different in the United States from where you have visited”, said Zhurakovskaya.