As the adventure in China is coming to a close I’m finding that I’m less excited to go home than expected. Nearly everyone else in the group is extremely excited to be going home to see loved ones and friends soon, yet I’m wishing the trip could continue for at least a few more weeks. There are friends we’ve met that I’d enjoy hanging out with more, places I’d like to explore more, plus an entirely different language I need to learn. I’m also beginning to feel like we didn’t explore their new culture enough. We ate popular and traditional Chinese dishes with chopsticks but we always ate at a restaurant or the hotels, thus not in the average way to eat meals at home. We were tourists for most of the trip thus seeing only prominent sites. As if someone coming to America and only seeing the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons and New York City than might try to understand the American Culture.
Anticipating this trip I expected to see a lot more of the historic architecture, more dragons, ceremonies and martial arts. The understanding I’ve gotten from reading about China since returning from this journey is that much of the traditional architecture was destroyed in the mid 1900’s and religions were attacked as the new government came in “to strengthen China from its weak past”. I even anticipated most people wearing kimonos or other traditional clothing but instead they were wearing very Western styles of clothes such as jeans and a tee shirt or dresses. Many of their shirts even had English words and phrases on them instead of intricate designs. The main difference they had from Western styles was that the women wore mostly high-heeled shoes. The individual shoes were often of the same style but different color within the same pair.
I had few expectations about their food but what they did serve was not any Chinese food I’d had in America. Dishes such as lemon chicken, sweet and sour food, and even rice weren’t as prominent as I’d expected. Often we had to call many times for the waitresses to deliver the rice and it was always the last dish set on the table, after we’d had a plethora of other dishes to fill ourselves on. I suppose I may as well comment on one of the main preconceived notions: Chinese height. The population as a whole was not as short as the tales say. Our group was average height among them. Sure we didn’t see many individuals above 6ft tall and the majority of women wore high heels but we definitely weren’t taller than most of the people.
Most things in China were not as I’d expected but I went over there with an open mind, wanting to learn all I could while over there. Some experiences were better than others and overall the trip was a great success, tons of fun and absolutely an amazing opportunity. I tried very hard to not pass any judgment, simply to keep a mindset that they have a different lifestyle that I was curious to explore the differences and similarities with the lifestyle I’ve been raised to know. Traveling to China was probably the best experience I’ve had in life thus far and I’m not looking forward to the journey being over. Sure I look forward to eating foods and talking to people I know but I will surely miss China. I feel as if a door of opportunity has been opened wide and I must find a way to continue to explore Chinese culture and many other cultures around the globe.