The end.

Today was our closing ceremony for this summer’s Intensive Chinese Language program. We had our last Chinese language table, ending with awards for everyone’s achievements in the program. It was really bittersweet. This summer flew by, and I have gotten to know so many amazing people from my school. Without this program, I wouldn’t have met such talented people. Most people are ready to return home or move on with their travels, but I can’t wait to wave hello to everyone I know once we’re all back in Madison.

This past Friday, our program had a talent show. I didn’t participate myself, but many other students sang, played guitar, recited their speeches, did poetry, etc. Those reciting their speeches were practicing for a speech competition in Beijing this past weekend. There were 7 participants from our UW-Madison program, and the competition was hosted by Colombia University. I can proudly say, that out of our 7 participants, all 7 of them placed first, second, or third in the competition. Some of my closest friends beat other students from Harvard, Princeton, and University of Chicago.

Anyways, Qing dao is famous for having many beaches. I absolutely love the beach, and was very excited to have a relaxing weekend here. We got to the beach around 2pm, and ended up staying until about 10pm. The beach was absolutely full of people – I can say that for the 8 hours we spent at the beach, it was pretty constantly full of people. When we arrived, it was really foggy outside, and was even raining a bit. We all decided to stick it out for a bit and hope the weather cleared up, and luckily it did! The fog and rain clouds went away, and there were clear blue skies. The four of us were also fortunate enough to watch the beautiful sunset, and the tide go way back into the ocean. By the time it got dark, the waves extremely thin, and the way the water washed up onto the shore was really beautiful. I spent a lot of time in the water that day, and it was so peaceful I could probably have stood there forever.

It is now my last couple days in China before I return home. I am really excited to get back, but I most definitely will miss China. Tianjin has been my home for the past 3 months. Looking back, I have really improved my Chinese. It is really amazing how accustomed I’ve become to not only this city, but China’s customs as well. I am almost positive I will be experiencing reverse culture shock when I return home – especially since I didn’t really experience any culture shock in the beginning. I will miss the food, I will miss having good friends next door, I will miss traveling, and I will miss experiencing many new things with new friends. I will not miss the lack of cleanliness and polluted air.

Well, I have about 2 more days before I head home. So long, China.

Qing dao beach with my roommate Meghan!
Qing dao beach with my roommate Meghan!
A beach filled with people
A beach filled with people
One of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen
One of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen
Qing dao beach at sunset
Qing dao beach at sunset
Lighting off lanterns at the beach
Lighting off lanterns at the beach
Writing my Chinese name in the sand
Writing my Chinese name in the sand
Nighttime at the beach
Nighttime at the beach