My Summer in Beijing

This summer of 2019, I studied abroad in Beijing, China at Peking University (北京大学). It was one of the best experiences of my life and I am here to tell you why.

Image courtesy of Diane Nguyen

My first week was one of the most stressful Chinese language experiences of my life. I knew my classes were going to be all in Chinese, and I knew I was going to be stressed. However, I didn't realize how overwhelmed I was going to be. On the third day of class, I cried. I could barely understand anything since my teachers spoke so fast, and I was already terrible at listening comprehension and speaking. I felt stupid and ended up believing that everyone hated me because I was stupid. Now, I realize how silly that was.

By the second week, I was getting a better grasp on studying and understanding my teachers. It was still pretty hard, but I wasn’t doing bad on the quizzes! I had the choice to stay with a Chinese family or be in the Peking University dorms, and I decided to be with a family. It was really difficult communicating with my homestay mom because she didn’t know English, and I had a hard time understanding Chinese anyway. My sister was really nice and helped me along the way. Super sweet! My home was an hour commute, which was unfortunate, but I got breakfast and dinner every day, which was so convenient! I loved my homestay family and miss them every day.

Image courtesy of Diane Nguyen

The program I was in had a few weekend excursions: Nanjing, the Great Wall of China, and few tourist attractions in Beijing itself. In Nanjing, my favorite part of the trip was going to the Nanjing Massacre museum on my own. I had done one of my final papers on the mass genocide that had occurred there, and it was so interesting to go the memorial in the city it took place in.

The Great Wall of China was such tough a tough trek! The Wall is basically an incredibly difficult hike, especially with slippery stone and smooth shoe soles. To add to that, it was really rainy that day, Either way, I still had an amazing time and the rain led to a beautiful rainbow!

Image courtesy of Diane Nguyen

One of the tourist attractions we went to was Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. There is so much history and culture embedded there and it was incredibly amazing to walk and look around.

Image courtesy of Diane Nguyen

On top of the program trips, I went on a couple of trips on my own accord. With my friends, I went to Qingdao and Shanghai! Out of the two, Shanghai was my favorite. Qingdao, even though it was a beautiful city with bright lights (pictured below), it had zero nightlife.

Shanghai was not only beautiful but had a lot of fun things to do. The Bund was gorgeous, and there was a corgi café! I am a huge Disney fan, and I was able to visit Disneyland with one of my friends. I want to go to every Disney park in the world, and I’m glad I convinced myself to go. It was SO much fun!

Image courtesy of Diane Nguyen

The last week of Beijing was stressful because of finals, but the amount of stress didn’t compare to my feelings of sadness, knowing I was leaving the next day. The friends that I had made in this study abroad were so impactful. The six of us were so incredibly different, but we had meshed along so well, and it was great to have a solid group for the eight weeks we were there. On the last day, we went around saying our favorite things about each other, crying the whole time. We cried again when we said our goodbyes as we left for home.

I ended the term at the top of my class, and it felt amazing knowing all my hard work had paid off. Even though I only took Chinese language classes in Beijing, I did not regret studying abroad. It was an amazing experience. I learned a lot and made amazing friends. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I absolutely recommend studying abroad, and if this one sounded interesting to you, Drexel University's Study Abroad Office still offers it here!