10 June 2019
As part of his Student Ambassador project duties, Evan Mazmanian, a nominee of The Beijing Center, wrote a post about his initial thoughts about living and studying in China. Evan is an international business student at Loyola University, Maryland with minors in Chinese language and Asian Studies.
Immersion > Study
When trying to reflect on my initial reactions to China, it is difficult to pin point a specific event or point where the culture shock hit. Landing in Beijing, I was met by a few Chinese roommates and other students that would be attending TBC for the Spring. Besides the Chinese street signs and advertisements, some different cars, and a lot more pollution, Beijing is like any other city I’ve visited, at least at first. So, my very first impression was just another city, but only after getting over my jet lag and starting to explore did I realize how vast and cultural the country’s capital really is.
The things I thought would be most difficult actually came much easier than I expected, but it’s the things you take for granted in the US that really reveal themselves once you leave that element. When I arrived at my dorm, I was greeted with five flights of stairs without an elevator. I was quickly reminded how out of shape I was when I hit the third floor slugging my two suitcases, duffel, and backpack. After finally getting up to my room, I met my roommate Steven or 左思彤. I was nervous to communicate with him, but luckily his English is far superior to my Chinese.
The first major trip we went on was to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, Beijing’s largest tourist attraction as well as the governmental and geographical center of the capital. After about a week of orientations and logistics, this finally some nice exposure to the true history and culture I was so excited to experience. Being the largest city square in the world and the site of some extremely controversial political movements, it was a lot to take in and I started to become very eager to see more. This led directly to the Forbidden City which used to be the residence of emperors for thousands of years. The Chinese architecture and detailed paintings blew me away.
Within the first week, I was also introduced to my internship through a Chinese roommate who showed me how to get there via subway. The plan was to drop me off and then let me find my way back, which was slightly nerve-wracking, but I figured it out. As I started to establish and routine and practice my Chinese, I became very aware of amazing an experience this was going to turn out to be. As I prepare to leave for a two week excursion throughout the southern province of China, I am very excited to immerse myself further into the ancient history and culture.