Before going on this study abroad trip, I didn’t know much about China. I also didn’t know any of the other students on the trip or most of the professors. Through this trip I was able to not only learn all about another culture, but also build genuine relationships with peers and professors from UTC. Community and family is something that is very important in the Chinese culture, so almost every restaurant had large round tables with a Lazy Susan in the middle where they would serve 8 or more dishes that were shared between our whole group. I loved that so much and really wish restaurants in America were like that. The reason I chose to go on this trip was specifically because I have done several reports on Confucius and his teachings, so I was very excited about going to his hometown of Qufu. In Qufu we went to the burial site of Confucius, his family mansion, and also his temple. To me, the coolest thing was that our tour guide is one of the decedents of Confucius, and you could hear his excitement and admiration when he was telling us about the buildings and history.
I really appreciated getting to go to the temples and seeing the different religious practices. At both the Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai and the Confucius Temple in Qufu we saw people lighting incense, providing offerings, and praying which was interesting to be able to see the similarities and differences, as opposed to just reading about it in a textbook, between the temples in China and the church that I attend in America. What was especially moving at the White Horse Temple in Luoyang was that several Monks of all different “ranks” were gathered together in the temple “chanting” in sync, which is something I have never experienced and will probably never get to experience again. Because it is a sacred ritual we were not allowed to film it, so it is truly something you can only experience at a Buddhist Temple, and only if you visit at just the right time.
Xi’an was my second favorite city because we got to see the Terra Cotta Warriors, which absolutely blew my mind. Not only did we get to see all of the statues that have already been put together, but also we got to see the warriors that are in the process of being pieced back together which gave me an even greater appreciation for how much effort has been put into restoring them to their original glory. On our free day in Xi’an we decided to rent bicycles and bike the 8 miles around the city wall. That was an amazing experience because we got to see the entire city from above.
Overall this trip was absolutely incredible, and I would love to go back and do it all again. I am so thankful for the opportunity to go on the study abroad trip to China and for the scholarship because otherwise this experience would not have been possible for me.
Madison Singley is majoring in Psychology. She participated in a faculty-led trip to China through the Anthropology, Sociology, and Criminal Justice Department in July, 2018. Madison had the following to say about her time abroad, “I don’t think you can ever fully understand or appreciate a culture different from your own until you are fully submerged and surrounded by it. I believe the best way to open your mind to new ways of thinking and living, is to travel somewhere in which you are the outsider, or somewhere where you have to adapt and try things different than what you are used to. Studying abroad is all about learning and experiencing the world around you for yourself, not just from a textbook and nothing is more valuable than that.”
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