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Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

January 25, 2019

By Michelle C., University of San Francisco, TBC Spring 2019 Student

China has always been on my places to visit list, but I know I couldn’t experience the full Chinese culture that I wanted to if I went on a short vacation. The opportunity for me to come to Beijing and study abroad was a bold one because I was born and raised in San Francisco. I have never left the city or stayed away from home for more than 3 weeks. Knowing that I was going to be a semester abroad, half way across the world, was very scary.

When I got accepted to the program, I was super excited! I knew this was my chance to experience China the right way. I could finally have the ability to learn the language and culture from just living there. I am of Chinese heritage, but grew up very American, which is why I was so eager to come to China. This was my shot to finally learn and regain the lost culture that was within me.

The day finally comes that I actually hop on the plane to Beijing! My mom and aunt came with me to set me off. It was definitely a warm and comforting feeling to have some family come with me to travel so far and see me off to my new adventure here. It was only until they left that it hit me… I finally realized I was going to be here on my own for 5 months!

I was scared, sad, and didn’t want to be here anymore. I didn’t feel in my element because I had to sleep not in my own bed, I had to share a room with someone (which I’m not used to since I lived at home my entire life), I can’t simply communicate with the people in this country, I’m so far away from family and friends, I was clearly was not at home.

Then I realized to myself that I’m just not in my comfort zone. I have been at home all my life and me living on my own was something I never experienced. However, understanding this rare opportunity to come to a whole different country for school made me realize that this is another stepping stone in my life to grow. I must take every opportunity to experience China in anyway because before I know it, I will be going back home. 

As the days went on, it gets better the more you explore and immerse yourself in the culture. Things may be different, but change is good, living through experiences is fun and a privilege, learning and living in a different country is a different “college-life” experience most people don’t get. I think it’s safe for me to say that I’m no longer sad or scared to be out here on my own, especially when you meet great people along the way!

It’s been almost a full month since I’ve touched down in Beijing and I couldn’t be more excited for the program excursion trip to the Yunnan Province in a few days. We’ll be going down to the South of China for two weeks, visiting about eight different villages. This short but interesting trip is going to show me a different side of China, away from the city life! I’m so eager to know what other parts of China are like since this country contains so many different provinces and cities.