The heat of the air rising from the grey streets of Beijing in the sticky, rainy summer months will be of little worry to me. Simply returning to China’s capital, to study on my own for the first time as a young adult, would be enough to help me to tough out the heat of the classrooms in the summer weather. As an Asian Literature and Culture major on the Chinese track, going to China and taking programs over the summer at Peking University will benefit my studies by diving into Chinese society.
Chinese culture has been a major focus in my life since I began learning the language in high school. When I entered high school, the course was new and I jumped on the opportunity to study the Far East. I satisfied my language requirements and beyond by studying Mandarin for four years there.
I also became enamored with Peking Opera, and had the amazing opportunity to study the theater form in my later high school years. I became proficient enough to study with Xue Ya-ping, a famous traditional theater actress from Mainland China. With her help, I was able to perform arias from the famous opera “The Drunken Concubine” for the annual Lotus Festival in Echo Park in Los Angeles and at the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium for an audience of 750 people.
In college, studies forced my focus away from the stage and into the classroom. I continued to study Mandarin Chinese at a 3rd-year level during my first quarters at UC, Riverside. During my college career, I have studied ancient Chinese literature, religion, and customs and I continue to take classes with China as my focus. Such classes include Taoist Traditions and Ancient Greek and Chinese Medical Traditions. However, while focusing on my general education here, my language skills have noticeably become rusty in my senior year of college since my senior year of high school. I hope that studying abroad in China, even though I would be taking programs taught in English, will offer me a world outside the classroom that will be an amazing chance for full-language immersion.
In my previous trips to China, I was able to experience a majority of the popular historical sites. I traveled to China twice with my High School and learned about the palaces of Beijing, Harbin’s Russian influences, Qin Shi Huang Di’s tomb in Xi’an, Shanghai’s teahouses, Suzhou’s embroidery, and Hong Kong’s city life. When I traveled to China with my parents for my third and most recent trip, I was able to experience even more. With my parents, I visited various sections of the Great Wall, held Chengdu’s Giant and Lesser Pandas, ate delicious hotpots from Chongqing, and cruised down the Yangzi River to the Three Gorges Dam.
Between fall of 2007 until spring of 2008, I experienced difficult times with my family and friends which are noticeable on my transcript. The first incident occurred when my best friend from high school became very ill. He was hospitalized and there was little I could do for him, but it was only a crack in the dam. Following his hospitalization, my mother informed me that my grandmother had passed away. During that time, I had to focus on my family and my own mental health, withdrawing in winter of 2008 for a short hiatus from study. As an only child, my parents needed their daughter, and I needed their support during this very difficult time in my life. After realizing how severely these events had affected my grades and GPA, I decided to set studying abroad in China as a goal for myself. If I could raise my GPA to fulfill the requirement, I would not only save myself from academic probation, but I would have a chance to return to China; returning to China feels more like going home than studying abroad.