Written on June 28th and posted on my Facebook:
As I sat in an empty classroom writing a letter, reminiscing about the past and reflecting on my study abroad life in Beijing, I was assailed by a mixed feeling of relief, accomplishment and inadequacy. Relaxed and joyful because I have pushed beyond my mental limits but yet at the same time I felt like I could have somehow done better, realizing the fact that I will never have the chance to wake up at six thirty in the morning and attend an eight o’clock lecture in this class ever again, there were times when I thought I could have paid a little more attention or be a little more proactive in class but I didn’t. I was reminded of the days when I wanted to huddle a little more under the warm blankets and that I had to question my own existence: was this why I, as a human was created for? To sleep and idle about, when the plants, the birds, the ants and the bees are already going around their individual task? Yes, stoic philosophy has been my most faithful friend and loyal watchdog throughout the year.
I arrived last autumn with a mind half-filled, after all I was in a liberal arts school for two years and ethnically Chinese, but soon I found myself daunted by new IR theories, historical facts and worst of all an academic environment that requires us to not only listen, write and think in mandarin, but also the ability to memorize huge piles of information in Chinese and then regurgitate them the following day in exam. It was painful and suffocating, but it did pushed us beyond our comfort zone and trained us to absorb knowledge at a faster pace. During winter the weather outside was chill, but no one was. We were busy writing papers or revising for our finals and I started grabbing every opportunity to audit open lectures. Peking University lives up to its reputation of being the best collegial institution in China in terms of academic freedom, openness and internationally connected. Never have I thought that a one-time-off lecture recommended by one of my favorite Chinese professors in Peking would ultimately led me to undertake three extra classes in the Stanford Center this semester, and throughout Spring, I’ve developed friendships with some of the most interesting and brilliant students and professors I’ve ever met in life. Having surmounted three arduous weeks of finals amounting to 33 credit hours over the course of 3 months
(yes 3 is my lucky number), I finally arrived in summer feeling hot and sweaty but fulfilled, The end is merely the beginning. I am leaving Beijing again on Friday, embarking on a one-month long education action program around rural China testing the IQs of babies, it’s time to pay back and make some contribution.