2015 Spring China External Programs IES Abroad Rachel Tristch

Midterm Craziness and Mid-Term Reflections

The past few weeks in Kunming have been my busiest ever, which explains why I’ve been slacking in my blog posts as of late. I’ll try my best to sum up what I’ve been up to since returning from Xishuangbanna several weeks ago.

Upon returning from our trip, we all had midterm papers and Chinese class exams. This semester, midterms were certainly more of a challenge for me than I’m used to. One of them required a fairly deep understanding about international relations in Southeast Asia, which majoring in Computer Science hasn’t quite prepared me for. The Chinese midterm was difficult in its own way, covering eight chapters from our textbook with about forty characters to memorize in each. Aside from midterms, each class also requires students to complete a fifteen to twenty page report for the final project, and with four classes this semester, I’m confident that this is more writing than I’ve ever completed in my life.

Although keeping up with the course workload has been stressful, I’ll admit that it’s forced me to manage my time better than I ever have before. I feel I’ve become much more efficient in how I use the time that I have, knowing that there’s only a little under four weeks left until classes end and we leave for Southeast Asia. I’ll also say that Kunming has such a comfortable atmosphere with plenty of places to sit quietly and do work. In Kunming, it’s sunny and warm every day – we haven’t seen rain since January (sorry to everyone at home who’s still enduring winter weather!). Sitting outside to catch up on work has become a regular habit. I don’t think I could have chosen a more comfortable place to spend a semester.

In addition to coursework, I’ve spent the past few weeks thinking about what I’d really like to do after finishing school. Before coming to China, I anticipated that I was going to be at least a little disappointed about spending an entire semester without any computer science work. However, I’ve reflected on how much my Chinese has improved here, with new opportunities to practice every day. The people here are so friendly and willing to help me learn. China’s culture, or the aspects of its culture that I’ve experienced so far in Kunming, are so interesting, and especially different from life at home. It’s disappointing, to say the least, that my time here is more than halfway over. I absolutely miss home – I think about what I’m missing out on every day – but being here has only solidified my interest in Chinese language and culture. I’m having an incredible time here, and I know that to ever become truly fluent will require me to return for a longer period. I’m already thinking about when I’ll be back!

Everything is in bloom right now on Yunnan University's campus.
Doing homework isn’t so bad with a campus like YunDa.
Everything is in bloom right now on campus.
Everything is in bloom right now on campus.

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