After a little over a day of travel from China back to the United States and the struggle of trying to switch my sleep schedule by 12 hours I finally had some time to sit down and put my thoughts down on paper. After 17 fantastic days in China still, I was excited to come home and see my Fiancé and my dogs and cats. Though I knew that since I had left home to go to China that I was coming back a changed person. When I say changed, I don’t mean a completely different person but rather a changed perspective on life. I am someone who has never been away from home for longer than 2 weeks before this trip, and when away, I typically stay within 3 hours drive of where I live. So, my world perspective had been somewhat limited until I went to China.
As I mentioned, China was an eye-opening experience for me. The culture shock was something that I wasn’t fully ready for, despite me trying to be as mentally prepared as possible. As far as the typical “American girl” is I am on the end of the extroversion scale! Like so much so I would rank past Jennifer Lawrence. So, when I first met the Chinese and Indian students, they were all more kind, soft-spoken and sweet which was a big difference from my friends back home who I would describe as very loud, extremely outgoing and not afraid to tell you exactly what they are thinking. I knew that 100% Kyla might be a bit much to take at first (especially because even back home 100% Kyla can be way too much) and that it was best to be a bit more relaxed. The Chinese students were incredible and welcomed us with open arms! They were amazing and helped us out with anything that we needed. Sometimes I felt guilty because I couldn’t repay all their amazing kindness back. Back in America, I’ve never felt such hospitality, and it taught me a lot about how the Chinese culture treats their guests and its truly inspiring and it’s something that I hope I can bring back to the states with me.
Another thing that was so incredible was the passion the people have for their history. It is so different from back home, which we have a very limited history compared to them. When we got taken to the Great Wall of China and the Summer Palace our guide was terrific in detailing the history of those breathtaking places, and you could see the Chinese people paying their respects to these amazing pieces of history. It’s hard to express just how majestic it was to be there seeing with my very own eyes these structures that were over 2000 years old. The effort and the detail that went into their creation was inspiring. It shows the true power of the human specials, and how incredibly innovative and resourceful we can be. For instance, the Great Wall was created without any heavy machinery, something that is almost unfathomable, but yet it was done. It does remind you how humankind can honestly do anything that we put our minds to and to never limit your imagination because it can become a reality.
While on the train now to Beijing I felt very inspired to reflect on the class and group experience that I took away from these past two amazing weeks. At the beginning of this whole thing there was a lot of questions buzzing around in my mind. Things like the language barrier, our age differences, and our cultural differences. I was worried it would be difficult being the group leader to navigate this new territory for me and still help everyone in reaching for a common goal. When we first started out we were definitely trying to figure out how to best communicate with one another. It was difficult because for the Chinese students all the new business terms being taught they knew in Chinese but not so much in English. So, this put more stress on the fact that we needed to learn how to best overcome the language barrier and fast so that we all were getting the most out of the class! I found however that the Chinese students when asking me to clarify some things from the lecture that day actually helped me in thinking about each step of entrepreneurship and the business process in a different way. I no longer could use the comfortable buzz words that we are taught, I had to find different words to describe each thing that they asked and this helped solidify my knowledge even more.
It is amazing how eager the Chinese students are to learn and I would say the same for our Indian student in our group (It was his first business class ever)! I am happy to say that this class brought out not only the best in my but my team as well. I feel I grew so much professionally and also grew personally. These connections and the learning curve were a great experience and showed me that even with someone who maybe doesn’t fully speak the same language as you that it doesn’t mean you can’t learn a lot together. With the world we live in and the technology that we have at our finger tips there is nothing that you can’t do. Professor Mehta also was incredible in helping us think critically and openly to new ideas and broadening what we thought was possible. I can say I feel much more open and confident to the idea of becoming an entrepreneur one day!
Back in February
when walking to class, I saw a poster at UML that said “2 Week China Trip”
worth 3 credits for undergrad and graduate students. That night when making
conversation at dinner I just brought up to my Fiancé how cool I thought it was
that the school was offering a trip like that and could you believe the
opportunity that would be for the students. Before I could say anymore, he
replied: “well, you’re obviously applying right?!” I looked up at him a
bit surprised by his enthusiasm and said: “do you really think I
should?” He said, “you have been looking for a way to expand your network,
right? And I know that you’ve always wanted to go to China since we started
dating, this is perfect!” I thought about it for a while and said:
“you know, your right, I will apply!”
Fast forward to hearing back that I was accepted to be part of the program, I was absolutely thrilled and of course a bit nervous. What would China be like? Would I fit in even though I was the only grad student and about 5 years older than every else? How could I survive being away from my home and Fiancé for 2 weeks? Will I be able to adjust to the 12-hour time difference? Well, luckily, I didn’t let these questions stop me from making one of the best decisions of my life! I got on that plane and after about a days travel wound up in a totally different country ready to make the most of every opportunity that I could.
The first day of class, when I first meet my team, I was wondering how it would work out with an Indian student, three Chinese students, and me? Would we get along? Would we be able to work together well? How will we be at communicating with one another? Luckily, I believe I was assigned the best group of students I could have asked for. We became fast friends, even opting to forgo the free dinners at the hotel and decide to go and continue to spend time together outside of the classroom. It is incredible even though sometimes we need a little extra time for us to type sometime into google translate to understand what the other person is trying to say. I feel that this trip has opened up my eyes to international relations and the fantastic people who can live half a world away from you!