My name is Angel Tillery, a current Junior and Visual Communication and Advertising Design student at Bowie State University with a concentration in Advertising Design. I am currently in my second semester of the China Study Abroad Program at Heilongjiang University in Heilongjiang, Harbin China.
When I first heard about the program I signed up immediately because I have always had a love for East Asian Culture. I knew this would be an opportunity I could not pass up. After getting my acceptance for the scholarship, I was a bit hesitant to go forward with it because I thought it would delay my graduation. After giving it a little thought, I decided that having this experience was more significant than the year or semester I graduate.
After arriving in China, I was completely struck by culture shock. While China has some similarities with the United States, it is still completely different. I did not have any problem adjusting to the time, but my body had to adjust to everything else, such as the food, the weather, the air quality, dormitory life, the classroom setting, and so on. The Chinese food here is nothing like the Chinese food in America; there were many times that I didn’t know what to eat because in the beginning my body didn’t adjust to the food very well. After a while, I didn’t have a problem finding and trying new things that I’m going to miss when I’m back at home. Being in class almost all day was something I definitely needed to get used to. Class starts Monday through Friday at 8:00 in the morning and depending on how many classes I have, I may not get out of class until 3:20pm or even 5:30pm. Last semester, I had over 22 hours of Chinese along with three other English taught classes. This semester, luckily, I’m only taking 2 other English classes, giving me a little more time to relax. The weeks are very busy and long, so by Friday I can’t wait to spend time with my friends and go out sightseeing around Harbin.
Within my first two weeks of being in China I met a Chinese friend who didn’t speak any English so I was forced to learn more as I texted and talked with him every day. As I began to learn more in my classes, I was able to communicate with my friend and the people who live in the area. As time went by I made more and more friends from many different countries such as South Korea, Russia, Colombia, Ukraine, Canada, as well as many Chinese friends. It’s exciting to talk about each other’s cultures; teaching them about mine and learning about theirs. At the end of last semester, I received A’s in all of my Chinese classes as well as being told I would be allowed to continue my Chinese studies for another semester. During the Winter break while I was at home in America, I continued to talk to my one of my close Chinese friends every day so my listening and speaking skills were able to advance.
I returned at the end of February this year and school has already been very busy. Last semester I was in the beginning class for those students who didn’t know any Chinese, now I am two levels above where I started. Once I was in my class, after a few days, I was able to take a test to see whether I would be able to move up a level, and I passed it! Now I’m in a class with all new people and taking classes that have little to no English. This experience is already completely different from last semester and I’m really excited to advance my Chinese language skills.
I didn’t travel too much last semester, but this time around I plan on going to Beijing, Shanghai, and maybe a few other small cities along they way.