After a day of seeing the Terracotta Warriors, watching a Tang dynasty performance, and eating way too much food, I somehow found myself energized to visit the night market near our hotel in Xian. Walking through countless stalls piled with trinkets, snacks, and charms, I got a sense of the vibrant nightlife of Xian.
In one stall, I decided to buy a backpack. I bartered with the saleswoman in Chinese, and I understood almost everything she said. In this moment, I realized how much my Chinese had improved in the first four weeks of the program--not only my Chinese, but also my confidence to speak it. This moment was a turning point for me; after my interaction with the backpack saleswoman, I challenged myself to start conversations with other new people.
When I return to Duke, I'll continue pursuing a minor in Chinese. Looking into the future, Duke in China also opened my eyes to potential career options that will let me continue speaking Chinese. To students planning to study abroad, I would recommend doing something everyday to learn about the culture. That could be as small as taking a random walk and stopping in shops, trying a new snack, or talking to a native speaker.
Class of 2022, Computer Science, East Asian Studies