Author: Tiffany Luehrs
Program: Hangzhou Study Center – China
While packing my suitcase for my return to America, a song came on my Spotify: Roam by Theia. One of the lyrics in the song is “everywhere I roam is home” and while humming along and placing my belongings in the open suitcase before me, I realized how true those words were. Washington, D.C. is my home. Valparaiso University is also my home. And now Hangzhou has become my home.
This semester in Hangzhou taught me many things. I learned to go with the flow and live in the present. I found that I had a lot more to learn regarding the Chinese language, and I pursued the challenge of expanding my vocabulary and improving my listening comprehension and speaking skills. I never felt lost and learned to successfully navigate the streets of Hangzhou and any city I was traveling, in part due to my improved Chinese skills and in part because I figured out how to use the amazing Baidu app, China’s version of Googlemaps (download it right now if you are going to China anytime soon – It’s a lifesaver).
I will miss the vibrant international community, my new friends from all over the world, running by West Lake, the cheap meals and taxis, the rich culture, and so much more, but I know it will only be a matter of time before I return to China or run into one of my international friends in another part of the world. Tomorrow I hop on a 13-hour flight back to the U.S., and I already know it will take time for me to get used to everyone speaking English around me. I will probably accidentally say “xiexie” instead of thank you for at least my first month back, but I am sure I will get back into the swing of things soon enough.
Okay, now I really need to finish packing.
P.S. Have a listen ☺ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CXPepq8xHM