Clara is a rising freshman from Atlanta, Georgia. During her 8th grade year, she was a third-year Mandarin at her school and through this class was able to participate in EdOdyssey's program in China.
In March 2018 Clara participated in an approximately 2-week long exchange and immersion program in China that brought students to Shanghai, Huzhou and Beijing. Before registering for the trip Clara admitted she was nervous, having never been away from home before, but her parents encouraged her to go and after returning she wrote, "I am so glad that I decided to go... it was the best trip I have ever taken!" Below is an excerpt of Clara's alumni interview with GoOversees.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would tell them to not go to China looking for America, but instead travel with an open mind, ready to learn about Chinese culture.
You should be like a sponge – ready to absorb all of the knowledge you can about the culture because before you know it, you will be back home again.
EdOdyssey made it really easy to do this, by immersing me and my classmates into the Chinese culture through many interactions with locals. I would also advise them to not forget to take chances, and try new things. If you don't, you might regret it later in life, because you never know if you will have the same opportunities again.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
In the days leading up to the trip, I started to become very nervous. I had never really spent much time away from my family, and this trip was two weeks in a country on the other side of the world! Of course, my family and I had some worries. For example: Would I get along with my host family? What if I didn't like the food? What if I got homesick?
Once I arrived in China, this nervousness immediately transformed into excitement. All of my worries melted away once I met my buddy from my host family. She was so nice and welcoming, and taught me a lot about Chinese culture.
All in all, none of my fears came true. My host family was super nice, the food was AMAZING, and everyday had such a full itinerary that I never even had time to think about being homesick, much less feel that way. EdOdyssey answered all of my and my family's questions and helped us feel much more prepared for the trip. They also ensured that the trip was safe and that we had absolutely nothing to worry about.
What is your favorite memory from your trip to China?
During my trip to China, I had many great experiences. When people ask me this question, they expect me to answer that my favorite experience was visiting the Great Wall of China or going to the Forbidden City. However, this was not so.
My favorite memory actually occurred while my class and I were staying in Huzhou, a "small" and relatively rural city. My class visited a local high school and experienced something far different from what we were used to in America.
Many of the students had never met someone foreign, and especially not from the USA. Once they found out that we were visiting, they flooded out of their classes, and some people even began jumping out of the second story windows just to get a look at the American students! They wanted to take pictures with us, get our WeChat usernames, and ask us all of their questions. I felt like a celebrity!
It was a really amazing experience because it allowed me to realize what different places in the world are like. It also opened my eyes to new perspectives, and allowed me to have life-changing realizations about how the world works in countries other than America.