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Back from China and back to reality!

Hello from England this week,

Since I last posted to you all I have finished off my Mandarin studies, sightseeing, Chinese food eating and have bid all my fellow ‘Study China’ programme buddies goodbye. I then embarked on a long and at times painful 36 hour journey home…more about that later, but first let me tell you about my last week in Nanjing, China.

In Mandarin class we started to move on to some harder things like basic sentence structures and talking about other people using adjectives and verbs. I can now tell someone that I’m an overseas student studying Chinese language and introduce my friends and family with thoughtful comments such as ‘This is my friend Emma, she’s very beautiful and also studies Chinese language’. I’m loving being able to speak and understand more Mandarin, and I’m looking into tutoring once I get back to the UK. I also  feel that it would be such a waste of the programme and a waste of 40 hours of tuition to not carry on learning the language, and besides, if you can speak basic Mandarin it can really enhance your career prospects if you’re ever working with a company which wishes to or does have relations with China. Speaking of Mandarin, you’ll be glad to know I think I’ve mastered ‘Qing wen’ to mean ‘excuse me’ now, rather than ‘kiss me’!

I also visited the ‘Confucius Temple’ with my friend, which was stunning, and then the two of us looked around the endless winding avenues of stalls and shops for presents for our families. I bought some green tea grown and dried in Nanjing, as well as a pure silk scarf for my Grandma, along with a bizaare musical instrument for my Dad (he collects strange musical instruments from around the world) and some Chinese sweet things for my mum. That’s the beauty of buying thing with Chinese packaging, you never know quite what you’re getting, so it’s even a bit of surprise for you when you get it home!

The day after that it was presentation day and me and my class each had to give a 10 minute presentation on a particular aspect of Chinese culture. As we had had three lectures on different elements of Chinese culture, they had given each of us some direction with that we could possibly do our presentations on. Me and three others had originally decided to do a presentation based on the Yangtze river, but in the end we had changed our minds and gave a presentation on China’s contribution to climate change, based on their part in producing green house gases, providing for their enormous nation, and their steps towards a cleaner, more responsible future. The presentation when really well and we scored an ‘A’ which we were very happy with! That night we had evening in with the Chinese volunteers where we played traditional games, practiced calligraphy, challenged one another to games with potential forfeits for the loser, and basically said thank you to all of them for being such wonderful hosts to us.

At Mandarin class on the Thursday we were faced with an oral and listening test which we weren’t expecting, but our teachers gave us plenty of support and in the end, each of us took and passed the tests. Along with the ‘A’ from the Chinese culture presentation I’m now heading back to Cardiff with two ‘A’s’ which I hope I can put towards my degree…that afternoon after the test a small group of us made our way over to the ‘Revolutionary Martyr Garden’ which was an extensive park full of rolling grass planes to sit and relax in. We sat there for hours in the glorious sun talking about the last three weeks and what was to come for us once we landed back on UK soil. Some people have got another year or two of studying ahead of them, others, like me, are facing the prospect of graduation and finding a path in the real world. Although it’s a bit of scary prospect, I’m really looking forward to starting a new chapter of my life and going our into the world and giving new things a try.

The next day was the final day of the programme which was filled with the recounting of recent memories, goodbyes, packing, and the  swapping of contact details and Facebook details. I’ve made some really really good friends out in China and I plan to see them all again back in the UK. After a precious few hours of sleep, it was time to get on the airport transfer bus and start the long long journey back to the UK.

When the 3am alarm went off my roommate and I sprang out of bed paranoid about missing the airport transfer bus, we stuffed the last of our possesstions in to our bulging suitcases, checked the room over, and then headed out in to the warm night air where we found the transfer bus filled with very tired and emotional members of the group. Once we got to Nanjing airport for the first leg of our journey, we were forced to wait outside of the airport for 40 minutes as the airport wasn’t even open! A few hours later though we had caught the domestic flight to Beijing and were then making our way on to the next destination on the indirect journey home: Moscow. That was a very long flight which seemed to drag on forever. Although I tried to go to sleep and watched three films back to back, the flight genuinely seemed to be a lot longer than the eight and a half hours it was meant to be. When we touched down in Moscow, me and the four others who had the same flights back as me from the programme were faced with a twelve-hour wait in the airport before the final flight to take us to London Heathrow. Ironically, that twelve-hour wait actually went a lot quicker than the previous eight hours on the Beijing – Moscow flight had! Bedding down on the cold hard floor of Moscow terminal D wasn’t the comfiest of places to sleep, but it was quiet enough and I slept for a couple of hours there.

Before I knew it though it was time to make our way over to the gate to get on the final plane of the journey to take us to London. When I stepped out of the plane in London and breathed in the damp morning air, it felt really good to be back home. Now I’m back at my parents house where I’m staying for this week to recover from China and the journey home, and hopefully get some uni work done too, as I’m now on the five-week count down to the end!

So that’s the end of my Oriental adventures for now, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my pursuits in China, as I’ve certainly enjoyed being out there, and a pleasure to recount to you all!

Will post again next week and tell you a little about what the plan for the next few weeks is as I’m so close to finishing now! Until then, take care! x


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