Guest Op Ed: Time is your friend living overseas
Today’s Op Ed contributor is unique: He is our 16-year old Bradley! A huge thank you to the Brookline Tab for publishing his first-ever article, whose link is here. An except is below. He reflected on adapting to life overseas during his 3 week stay in Beijing studying Mandarin this past summer. Thanks, in advance, for checking it out.
I entered my three-week trip to Beijing to improve my Chinese while maintaining a mindset this would be like any other language class I have taken. The difference: I was now learning Chinese, in Chinese. Can I really do this? What if I don’t meet anybody? Am I going to enjoy anything? This is what I asked myself as I didn’t see a similar face around me.
Traveling at 16 wasn’t a problem; being fully on my own, away from family and American classmates was. I felt dizzy when the pilot announced our arrival in Beijing. Once off the plane I was truly alone; nothing was familiar, and nobody was there to watch my every step. No safety net available.
At the HSK Global School I was not only younger than all my classmates, but also the only English-speaking person. My host family was kind, but they were a true family unit, still leaving me on the outside. I began thinking about how I could find that friend whom I desperately wanted.
This is perhaps the most difficult part of traveling overseas: Figuring out how to become comfortable with those around you and also blend in, and befriend, the natives. Each hour brings an avalanche of unique experiences along with new people.
Making friends was challenging, considering that each nationality has its own customs, and diverse personalities. Once you reach out, you plunge yourself into these differences.