As I prepare to depart for Beijing in two weeks, I have given a lot of thought to how I want to make the most of my time abroad and develop as an individual. I have set goals for myself including (in no particular order):
- Try some new street food (maybe a scorpion?)
- Achieve fluency in Mandarin
- Connect with HC alums living in Beijing
- Visit the Great Wall of China, the hutongs, and the Forbidden City
However, one goal I have set for myself which I am focusing most heavily on right now is to live as a traveler rather than as a tourist.
According to Merriam Webster, a tourist is “one that makes a tour for pleasure or culture”, while a traveler is “one that travels: such as one that goes on a trip or journey”. While there is nothing wrong with being a tourist and site seeing for pleasure, it is really important to me to live as a traveler because I want to live abroad experiencing my own journey, both physical and mental.
I believe that the beauty of study abroad is that I have been given this amazing opportunity to live and study in China for two semesters, and it is imperative that I take full advantage of that. I think that operating as a tourist in a foreign country can provide a disingenuous view of what that place has to offer. By living as a traveler and truly investing in immersing myself in the culture and the language of China, I will have a much better understanding of the culture and country, and I will be able to genuinely say I took advantage of everything I could in my time abroad.
Coming soon: look out for my next post on my experience preparing to depart for China!