1/3 Learning How to Order Noodles and Talk to Taxi Drivers

The first time I visited China was in the spring of 2015 when I was a senior in high school. I, along with other students from my Chinese class, spent those nine short days visiting tourist attractions, timidly speaking the language, and wandering throughout the cities of Beijing and Shanghai without any real knowledge about the people, culture, and history of the country we had found ourselves traveling through. I never imagined that I would return a year later.


My friends and I hiking the Great Wall near Beijing, China.


After an acceptance letter from Davidson College, two semesters of an intensive Chinese course, an East Asian history class, and a $5,000 grant from the Freeman Foundation, I once again found myself sitting in awe of the Great Wall winding through the mountains in the distance, elaborate bridges within the Forbidden City, and Shanghai’s sparkling skyline across the river from the Bund. This time around, I felt prepared and had two months to make the most of my visit. I was grateful for the opportunity to tour, live, and work in China.