Thursday, June 10, 2010

Home Again...

My time in Beijing has come to an end. Two weeks ago, I wrapped up my term papers, packed up my stuff, said goodbye to friends and adopted family, and flew to Hawaii to visit my parents. I leave tomorrow for Fort Collins, where I start up my job as a computer Lab Manager for the College of Liberal Arts and prepare to take on my new role as an RA at the Global Village wing of Braiden Hall.

Having time to relax in Hawaii has given me the chance to kick back and reflect a bit on my time abroad and my plans for the future. But even with all the hammock time in the world and a bottomless glass of lilikoi juice, it feels like I'd need lifetimes to mentally sort out a whole year of life abroad. A few insights rise to the surface, though, and I'll share them on this, the last post of my Charlie in China blog:

1) Go Study Abroad. For people my age reading this blog, I absolutely recommend taking a semester or a full year abroad to study. I've come back to the United States with new perspectives on China, and its people, but I now know more clearly as well what it means to be American. Spending a long time outside of our culture lets you know what you miss, and what you don't, about your cultural background and your home.

2) While you're there, make friends. It almost goes without saying, but the relationships I made (with Chinese and laowai alike) touched me on a level unlike almost anything I've known. Special thanks go to our motley crv (<- Hanyu Pinyin joke, anyone?) at IES: Dana, Audrey, and Drew, thanks for helping make China so memorable in the ways only you three could have made it. It wouldn't have been anywhere near the same without you.

My Chinese friends, too, made my time abroad a wonderful and satisfying one. From my first meal out with Xiao Ye the week I arrived, to Will's dating advice at PBD, to my all-night karoake party with the university International Club, to my months together with Lili; all these memories have, in ways clear and hidden from me, helped make me who I am today.

3) Homestay. My time living with Shushu and the family was undoubtedly the most formative part of my experience abroad, and I strongly recommend anyone studying abroad to live with a local family. Talking over the stove with Shushu, learning the tricks of the Chinese culinary trade, and chatting about anything with him as we sat down to dinner all stand out as treasured memories I'll keep with me a long time. When I think back to the little facets of Chinese culture and the insights about everyday life he brought to the table, I'm overjoyed anew to have called that place my home.


As I process the memories from my year abroad, I now start thinking ahead to what it all means in the greater context of my life. What kind of relationship will China and I have in the years to come? While nothing right now is set in stone, my tentative plan for the time being is this:

I should (hopefully) graduate this coming academic year, in the spring of 2011. That'll put me as a 21-year-old Bachelor of the Liberal Arts with proficient Chinese, zero college debt, and a bad case of wanderlust. What's a guy to do? I'm going back to China to look for work as a translator, teacher, or perhaps an RA at my study abroad program in Beijing, IES. From there, I hope to make myself a career blending my knowledge of Chinese culture and language with my native English ability and my interests in political science and development. But who knows? If China taught me anything, it was that you've got to be ready for change and excitement just around the corner.

This will be my last post on this blog. Thanks to all my readers who checked back to see what I was up to despite my absurdly infrequent posts. Continue to check out my Facebook page as I put up more pictures from my time in China. For those of you in Fort Collins and environs nearby, shoot me an email, give me a call, or hunt me down on campus if you want to hear some stories or just catch up a bit. Best wishes to you all, thanks again for reading, and;

Happy Travels!


  1. Thanks, Charlie. It has been such a pleasure to follow your blog. Have a wonderful summer, and welcome back to FC.

  2. Thank you for maintaining the blog. Hopefully, I'll see you sometime this August or September.