What I learned in China

Landon in China 2016

Nick Pappas '18 (pictured above, third from right) wrote this reflection on what he learned and experienced during his summer 2016 trip to Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai, China, with the Landon in China program. During the trip, Nick stayed with host families, explored historic sites such as the Great Wall, and learned more about the food, culture and language.

I'm not much of a traveler. Before traveling to China as part of the Landon in China program in summer 2016, I hadn't really been exposed to a completely different culture that allowed me to live outside of my comfort zone. Landon in China provided me the opportunity to do just that, and it proved to be an extremely valuable experience.

For the first couple of days in Beijing, I felt very homesick. I was not with any of my peers, and I was with this family that wasn't mine. I called my mom for the first couple days and told her, "I want to come home," but she reassured me that everything was going to be great and that I had to think with a positive mind that this would be a great trip.

After those few subtle words, I really tried to push through and love China. After having dinners and laughing with the group and all the host siblings, I realized that I was with great people having the time of my life. Although it was a rocky start, I ended up enjoying every bit of it.

Another difficulty was the time difference. It took three days to get my sleep and body adjusted to the time. That also made me feel apart from my family because I would call them when I woke up and they would be eating dinner. It was hard the first couple days during the afternoon knowing I couldn't call my parents when I was lonely because they would be sleeping. It took a couple of days to recover from time change and homesickness, but it was worth it.

In China, I noticed how different the food is. It's not your typical American Chinese food, and they are very resourceful and let nothing go to waste. I was opened up to the most interesting foods, especially in Chengdu. The food there was spicy and had lots of kick to it. Another cultural custom in China is that when your plate is empty they like to put more on your plate and keep feeding you whether or not you are full. I just don't know how they eat so much and are so slim. Some people say everything I ate was different, but to tell you the truth, it was all so good! They do such a good job seasoning the food. The food was definitely a huge difference from back home, but it didn't stop me from eating and trying everything China offered.

Overall, the trip was a great experience, and the ancient sites were incredible! I loved the Great Wall of China. It was such an amazing feeling climbing up to the top and walking down the section. I felt so accomplished and lucky to have been there. The trip was definitely rocky in the beginning — so is every trip no matter where you go — but I had an amazing experience that I will never forget. I just hope more people will go and experience China the same as I did. The trip was for sure 10 out of 10!