Characters Written in Water
In China, in and out of the classroom, I was always learning. Walking around the city, I mumbled to myself the characters I was able to read, my eyes always looking for new words, trying to figure out the relationship between the characters placed together on signs. In a small park in Tianjin, I watched a woman write characters, slowly, with a large calligraphy brush. Another reminder that learning is everywhere, sometimes right at your feet.
My classmates on the trip would tease me because I would stop anywhere on a street to take a picture. Things they had overlooked would catch my eye, and I needed to capture it. Sure, in China, you will have the opportunity to see famous temples, to stand behind rows of tourists waiting to get a look at ancient relics. For some, they remember China through pictures of The Forbidden City and the Great Wall; however, to me, I remember China through bicycles. They are everywhere, distinct and colorful and practical, reflective of China itself.
Spend your weekdays in a classroom and weekends creating lessons of your own. On a free weekend, my roommate and decided to combat the craziness of Chinese train stations and head to southern China, home of clear water, rice fields, and bamboo groves along the river. A reminder of what waits outside the packed cities of China, that it is possible to slow down and enjoy the warmth of the sun and the wonder of where you are, on the other side of the world.
Color to Your Life
The beauty of travelling is the people you meet. Travelling creates stressful situations but also creates a space for trust and intimacy. Your study abroad classmates are your battle buddies. You share notecards, classroom snacks, and photographs because you can’t bear the thought of snapping that picture without them in it too.
A Closer LookThere is that trite saying that beauty is in the details. Normally, I like to mock clichés, but this is one that cannot be overlooked because when it is acts of discovery and moments of appreciation go unnoticed. With travelling, people tend to gravitate toward Lonely Planet counsel and away from their own instinct. Everywhere, there are minute things people overlook, the muscles of the lions’ legs, the curves in his hair, the bold yellow background and the contrast of colors created. Studying abroad is about awareness; it is not just reading and repeating but also seeing, opening your eyes and opening your mind to the beauty of details.