Monday, June 6, 2011

Upon arrival in America, during a six-our layover in Seattle, after tearful Goodbyes (or, the End)

"Oh, I love you" – Simon & Garfunkel, "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her" (1966)

I haven't posted in a month—technically just over a month now—and that's due, I suppose, to myriad things: trips to Tianjin and Tai Shan, internet going down for a while, final papers being due, a big Chinese final, trying to cram everything we wanted to do and hadn't yet done into frantic final weeks, spending time with close friends—and now, finally, here I am, posting, but not from China. 
I'm currently sitting at Gate S6 of the Seattle-Tacoma Airport in Washington, USA, charging my computer and my phone and waiting (for only 3.5 more hours!) to get on a flight to Minneapolis, where I'll wait another hour for a flight to Grand Forks, North Dakota, where family members await me and I truly return home. I don't quite know what to say in this post. It's too early to really tell how I feel about leaving China, but I can say with certainty that leaving the people I met in China—friends, teachers, language partners, and a very special lady—is one of the hardest things I've done in a long time. To everyone who may read this who I spent time with in China: thank you. Thank you for simply being there. Thank you for making this study abroad semester so so so worth it, and thank you for being you. You're amazing. I love you all.

There's a Southern gentleman with two children near me (at the airport) speaking in an awesome accent, which leads me to say I better knock out all the personal stuff because I do believe I'm gettin' the vapors. My Chinese improved greatly over the course of the last four months (our director equated my progress to roughly three American semesters of Chinese), but I feel like I'm at a crucial stage in my studies, so I need to keep practicing. I feel like I've grown as a person for too many reasons to write about, some of which I probably wouldn't want to write anyway and some of which I cannot put into words.

Alliance friends:
We climbed mountains.
We biked through a banana plantation.
We stalked city streets.
We shoved on the subway.
We rode cross-country night trains.
We ate duck heads.
We lived in China.
We loved each other.

Advice for those considering studying abroad: do it and don't think twice about it. You'll have no regrets.
Advice for those who met me in China: keep in touch, please.
Advice for all others: As trite as it may be and as saccharine as this whole post will end up being: love each other.

Again, I cannot express what I'm trying to get at, here. This was an amazing experience I'll never forget. I am a changed person. What else is there to say?

(endnote: And to you—yes, you—you who know: keep carrying it)

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