This was my first experience going abroad and let me tell you: it was AWESOME!! I really enjoyed my experience in China. Originally I was only suppose to be there for one semester but I decided to extend my stay for another semester and one summer session. I knew an opportunity like this and it being so cheap is real especially after graduating college so, I was like "let me stay here a little longer". Anyways, because this was my first time abroad I had was nervous the whole time such as the flight, the host city, the people and just in general. But it's quite normal and to the future students thinking about doing this program: It's normal and you'll be fine, trust me.
Cultural shock is a thing. When I first arrive in Chengdu, China I could already tell this isn't like the United States. The locals lifestyles, outlook, and etc is completely different from what I'm used to and not gonna lie, it took awhile to get used to. But this initial shock is completely normal, but I kept an open mind and try to see things from their perspectives and tried to keep my opinions to a minimum. I think to enjoy a foreign country like China which is completely different from the United States, one must keep an open mind and be willing to try anything. Because you never know, you'll might discover something about yourself.
Some advice I would give to future participants that are applying for this program and any other programs that'll be in China would be: just try it. Whether that be the food, a new hobby/place, going to China in general, JUST TRY IT! Research Research and more research!! I would definitely research about the city that you'll be going. Read other blogs written by students because they'll be able to give a proper experience beside the stereotypical information you'll might read online. Also, do some research about other places around your host city because you might (mostly likely lol) want to travel to other places. Download your VPN before you enter China because the app might be blocked. If you want to stay connected with your social media, definitely download it before you get behind the Great Firewall. Talk to the locals!! They know the best place to eat and best places to have fun! It's easy to stay with the people in the program which is fun and all but don't forget your in a different country and making friends with the locals can be very helpful. My last advice that I can think of right now would be to have fun. This is your experience and you want to make the most of it. The people you meet, the feelings you'll feel, the food that'll eat will be something you'll cherish. Because you want it to be something when you're older and you think about your college years, it something that sticks out.
Hopefully this was helpful! I'm pretty sure there are other things I could've mentioned but I just can't think of it right now. But to anyone that is reading this, hopefully it'll encourage you to travel abroad either to China or anywhere else you're going!