Jiangsu / My Jiangsu Story

"My Jiangsu Story" - Stanley William Joshua (周书亚),

( Updated: 2015-11-24 16:45

Stanley William Joshua (周书亚), an student now studying at Yangzhou University, shares his story of Jiangsu with us.

After graduating from college I decided to work a year and saved money in an attempt to travel around the world. My original plans did not include a visit to China. However as any seasoned traveler will tell you, plans change and often give rise to the most unique and memorable experiences. I had the fortune of visiting China during the Spring Festival. I got to share in the experience of a nation celebrating its most important and traditional holiday. After that first visit I fell in love with the culture and language and made the decision to move here to experience and learn about it first-hand.

I applied for a job in a city I had never heard of, Yangzhou. My friends and family were all excited that I was about to embark on such a unique adventure and were all eager to here where I would be living for the next few years. Upon telling them "Yangzhou" I was met with blank faces, "Huh? Where's that? Somewhere near Beijing?" they said. Of course they wanted to know why I had chosen this place when the only thing we knew about it was that it had some famous fried rice. "No," I replied, "It's a small city with a long history and it seems like a truly authentic place to discover China!"

I wanted to choose a place where I would be able to see a different side of China, different from the mega cities like Beijing and Shanghai. To live outside of my comfort zone and to be somewhere that did not have too many other foreigners to rely on. A place where I had to learn Chinese to survive!

Well, I got my wish. After a long bus journey I had finally arrived. Exhausted, I laid down in the hotel for my first night, dreaming of all the adventures that lie ahead of me.Looking back I am glad that I was so blissfully unaware of how little Chinese I knew. It had not fully occurred to me the immensity of such an undertaking. I can remember the moment that it first dawned on me that I had a long long road to travel before I could even begin to understand such a complex and ancient language.

The next day when I awoke I decided to take a walk and have a look around and try to get a feel for the city. I walked along until I came upon a small park. I noticed an old man playing with his dog. The dog was excited and was running all around the park. The man appeared frustrated and began shouting at his pet. Suddenly the small dog stopped and came running back to the man. He said another few phrases and the dog quietly sat down and waited beside the man. It was at that moment that I realized that that small dog knew more Chinese than me!

I resolved to learn Chinese and to do my best to improve each day. Learning in China also means learning about others, to be patient with others, to be patient with new and different customs and cultures but most of all to be patient with yourself. Learning a language is a lifelong journey but as they say in China a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

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