When I tell people I am from China, I think they often think of a big city, like Shanghai or Beijing; my home city is different, though. I am from central China, in the Henan province. My home city is called Luoyang, and it is rich with history. It took me a long time to understand the history of my home and how it came to make me who I am today.
Luoyang is a beautiful city, situated on the northern side of a river. It was home to Lao Tzu, the founder of Daoism and Zhao Kuangyin, the first member of the Song Dynasty. It is one of the four ancient capitals of China, along with Beijing, Xi’an, and Nanjing. Luoyang is probably the smallest and least well-known of these today. However, it is still a very popular tourist destination! I remember being a young child and visiting the temples and grottoes near the city. This was my first experience with tourists, and I was fascinated by them.
This was my first experience with western tourists, and it was an experience that stayed with me throughout the years. As I grew, I began to notice tourists around the city, and as my skill with the English language grew, I began to try to speak to them as much as possible. Because of this, my English improved much more rapidly than that of my peers, and I started to have dreams that maybe someday I could go to America and study. When I was a child, these were just dreams, but then as I grew through primary school and into secondary school, I began to see a path laid in front of me.
I had a dream that I could study overseas. I tried to forget that dream, because not many Chinese students have that opportunity, but all throughout secondary school, my dream of studying abroad never left me. I didn’t really know where I wanted to go, or even specifically what I wanted to study at that point; I just knew that if I had the opportunity to go, I would take full advantage of it without a moment’s hesitation.
I began secondary school at a public secondary school in my home city of Luoyang. I knew, though, if I wanted to be accepted into any good university or study abroad program that I would have to receive good marks and transfer into an international school, so I spent my first years of secondary school studying as hard as possible to keep my marks high.
During my first year of secondary school, I participated in the discipline department of our school’s Student Union. Because of my hard work in this position, I received a special chance to host a group of students on a study abroad program. The students that we hosted happened to be from Boston, Massachusetts. I had never done anything like this before, so I was very excited to have a part in this opportunity.
This was a very exciting experience for me for a variety of reasons. First, I got to participate in a lot of different activities in their Chinese bridge summer camp. I was able to practice my English with them, and finally get a sense of how native English speakers speak. But I was also able to work with them and teach them about Chinese language and culture. I was responsible for working with the group and helping to integrate them into the big international family group as a part of the summer camp.
I feel like this was the first time I got an idea of what it would be like to study with people from different cultures. I think it was very difficult, but it was also very rewarding. I was so happy to have had this experience; it really inspired me to continue to chase my dreams. I felt that I wasn’t so different from the students from America that I was working with, and if they could work hard and have the ability to study in China, I wanted to be able to do the same thing.
In my second year of secondary school, I was lucky again. I was invited by the Perpich Arts High School in Golden Valley, Minnesota. I stayed there as a visiting student for fifteen days. During this time, I got the opportunity to study English with some local students. I got along with everyone very well; they taught me English, and in return, I taught them a little Chinese.
Now, a few years later, I have just finished a year-long IESL language course at Green River College. I knew that my English needed some improvement, so I made sure to focus hard on studying English and improving enough to go into a full-time finance course. After a year of study, my English was good enough for me to take a position as a tutor at Green River College. It was a good chance for me to, once again, teach people some Chinese and also improve my English further.
Because my English is now capable of handling the difficulties of a full-time university course, I am now looking into following my academic passion: finance. I am very interested in receiving a degree in finance. I know that international business involves speaking a lot of English, so that’s why I started my studies with the English course; however, I really want to study finance and begin to work in the international business world.
I have discovered that studying abroad has given me opportunities that I would not have had elsewhere, but it also gave me a lot of personal strength. Leaving my home and living alone so far away was difficult at times, but it has given me the strength to succeed at anything I decide to do in my life going forward.