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Off-Campus Study

Notes from Abroad: Ed in China

Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience.  This week’s feature is from Ed Shivers ’16, a Politics studies major currently studying abroad at Lake Forest College in Beijing.

My name is Edward Shivers and I am a recipient of the Ingrid and George Speros Scholarship Fund. Studying in a foreign nation always excited and being in China is no exception. I arrived on a very cold Thursday night. As I drove from the airport in a taxi, I was immediately surprised by the bright lights of Beijing. The license plates of the cars, the billboards and the traffic all interested me but that was only the tip of the iceberg.

Every two weeks, my program offers an off-campus traveling experience. I was most excited to meet locales and test my language skills since this is the first time I am out of my natural habit for elongated months. Unsurprisingly, China is huge but the size of the population never dawned on me for some weird reason. Most places I go, people either stare at my group or me. They are aware that we are foreigners; and for a lot of them it’s the first time they are seeing someone racially or ethnically different from their group. At first, the stares were unwarranted and made me feel very uncomfortable but like anything aboard it took getting used to. Although I am still working through this, I smile and waved (because a smile is universal and typically conveys a sign of delight.)

The food is another element I welcomed very fast. In America, we all hear the stories or see some stereotypical program of Asian people eating foods we are not very accustomed to you but I’m here to say it’s not true. Although there are instances of some interesting dishes it’s nothing a person would not see served in an American restaurant.

            I have absolutely fallen in with Chinese Pancakes. Typically, you can find them on any street corner or food area, and they usually cost about two American dollars or 10 yuan. They’re very similar to a crape filled with meats, veggies, and any another topping you can imagine. Not to mention, they are fairly cheap. In addition to pancakes, I have also fallen madly in love with dumplings and baozis. I have no clue why I have not ever had them until now. Basically, the two is dough either steamed or pan-fried filled with meats and veggies. Sadly, my writing does not give them the true validation they deserve. In the end, I am most grateful to have experience Beijing thus far, and granted the Ingrid and George Speros Scholarship.