Blast From The Past

Just yesterday I went back and visited the university where I studied during the sumer before my senior year of high school. I was surreal how little had changed. I went with my friend Julie and gave her a tour of my past experience at East China Normal University with my “National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y)” program, a language-intensive study abroad scholarship that I was fortunate enough to participate in when I was just 17.

I explained how different that program was, especially in comparison to our current experience. While our time here has been characterized by getting out and seeing as much of China as possible, the NSLI-Y program was basically an intensive summer school. Though now we have class four days a week, in NSLI-Y it was seven. All of our meals were located at the exact same dining complex just a few feet from our dorms, where we also had class, while now I can eat a huge variety of foods at various restaurants and vendors all around Shanghai. The level of freedom and life experience that results from the structure of the Davidson in China program has allowed me to learn different lessons from my time in China.

I believe that studying abroad is important for any student who wants to expand his or her impression of the world. Having now participated in two very different programs, I can say that there is definitely value in a program that is academic in the traditional sense as well as one that emphasizes getting out and “seeing it for yourself.” While I certainly have never been as good at Chinese than when I was studying it for hours every day that summer, I have also never had such a full or multifaceted understanding of what real life in China is like. During this semester I have had the chance to meet so many interesting people and do countless interesting things, and there is no class that could have taught me those lessons.

Just for fun, here’s some photos of the campus; it was just as beautiful as I remember it, and the inside of the dorm was just as plain!