Edit: This was my first post on this blog. Ergo, it’s rather longer than the others and I’m sorry about that! But, it tells the story of this blog. I’ve changed a lot since then.
All good stories start with a bit of time wasting. Like myself, in the library, with a computer in front of me, open textbook beside. Presently, I’m thinking about possibly starting to decide what topic I want to study for the duration of next year.
I will throw myself into what I hope will become one of the biggest adventures of my life and fly to Tsinghua University in Beijing (http://www.tsinghua.edu.cn/publish/then/), one of the renowned universities of China. One reason I have decided to start a blog is, essentially, that Facebook and Twitter are censored in mainland China, and I feel I need a way to document my experiences if this is going to be the adventure I want it to be.
It began with a younger me attending college, searching vainly for the right university course that would give me the balance between something I would enjoy, something that would help me develop my future career, and something I could forsee myself actually passing with a 2:1 or a 1st. I really wanted to do a BPS accredited Psychology degree (in case I were to go into clinical psychology) that would also offer a year abroad or year in industry, because I felt I wanted to experience the real world a bit and get away from campus. I couldn’t find one, it was far too selective. I weighed up my options, deciding to just go for a university that might possibly offer a year abroad option in the future and happened to fulfill all my other wishes for my degree.
Then, midway through first year, about a year ago this month, when I had pretty much settled for my degree being a standard three year course and not having any new, exciting, opportunities to TRAVEL, I got the email. Headed ‘Opportunity for a year’s study abroad’. I signed up before I had scrolled down to the signature.
My tutor replied with a description of the universities I could possibly attend. There were connections with everywhere from the University of Toronto to the University of Queensland. How could I choose?! I decided to give myself some time to think about it. All I knew was I wanted to go somewhere I hadn’t been before, and somewhere I’d always wanted to go. Australia? California? I even considered Germany!
Fast forward a few days. I sat in a small church waiting to give blood, with nothing much else to do, when I decided on a whim to pick up the copy of National Geographic that lay in a box to my right. As I idly flicked through the magazine, a picture of a towering city resting by the Yangtze River in China caught my eye. Peter Hessler’s article was captioned ‘Return to River Town’ and described Fuling in the Three Gorges region of China, the small town turned metropolis. I’d never even heard of it. Hell, I’d not even known Beijing was the capital of China (I thought it was Shanghai!) until I read that article (for those who are interested, http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/03/fuling-china/hessler-text)
“As I read, captivated, of the two carved fish that lie on the bed of the Yangtze river (a sign of good fortune to the locals) that date back to the eighth century, I realised how ignorant I was. I know next to nothing about China, a land built on ancient culture (Archaeologists have found the remains of rice paddies in eastern China that date back to the Stone Age), a land where good luck takes the form of two carved fish. Since then, I’ve recalled to countless people these fish which I find so fascinating, but I can’t claim to describe accurately, to understand Chinese culture until I’ve become immersed in it myself.”
So reads my expression of interest which I sent to my own university when I decided to choose China over the many universities of the glamorous U.S, over Australia, New Zealand, or Brazil. I want to throw myself into a culture that I see as so far from my own, to see what it is like REALLY.
I was accepted into Tsinghua University in January. So begins the endless, complicated process of visa applications, insurance, flight bookings, registration and (worst of all) packing. Unfortunately, I can’t do any of that until I have registered with Tsinghua and received their official letter of acceptance. It’s stressing me out so, naturally, I’m not doing it. Instead, I’m doing this blog. Once this blog post is finished, of course, I may possibly actually begin to figure out what courses I might consider actually studying while I’m in the country! Maybe.
I feel it is important to document everything that happens to me in this biggest adventure of my life, though, so I have made an effort to summarise the story so far. In my next blog post (two in the same day, I KNOW!) I’ve decided to write a little about why I’m having such trouble deciding on a course to study in Beijing. [Edit: This post has been made private] That way, even if no one but me were to come across this blog, I get a chance to brainstorm a little!
Oh, and for anyone else who’s thinking of going on a year abroad and is having trouble with the progress, I found this in a random Google Search. Who knows, it may turn out to be my Bible!http://www.thirdyearabroad.com/before-you-go/pre-year-abroad-guide.html