Reflecting back on the past two months in Harbin, my time in Harbin has completely flown by. Looking back to the beginning of the program where I could barely exchange simple information in Mandarin to now confidently telling a Chinese person who is trying to cut a line to buy a train ticket to go back of the line and wait. One of the aspects of the CET Harbin program I am most thankful for is my Chinese roommate. From helping me with my homework throughout the semester to critiquing and listening to me rehearse my final Chinese finance class’s presentation. My Chinese roommate, Ayden, has helped me tremendously get through the CET Harbin program. I briefly talked about him in the first blog, but to give you some background about him. He is actually born and raised here in Harbin so he knows the city very well and understands Harbin culture more than the average HIT (Harbin Institute of Technology) student so Ayden knew exactly where to take me and show me around, Harbin. For example, besides Harbin’s famous Ice Lanterns during the winter, supposedly Harbin is also very well known for all of China for its night market. CET, unfortunately, did not have a chance to plan a trip there, so Ayden decided to take me there and try out night market food. Also, he had so much patience for me learning Chinese and an extremely considerate person. At the beginning of the program and when the language pledge began, I would constantly check Pleco (free Chinese dictionary app) to look up how to say something and say 一分钟 (one minute). He teased me in the beginning for saying “one minute” because my Mandarin-speaking level was not that great and I would say it at least twenty times a day. Do not get me wrong, my Chinese professors at Pitt are absolutely fantastic and probably the best professors I have had yet at Pitt, but they know as well I know. It’s not the same learning a language in a classroom when your not in the country of the language. Honestly, without them and not taking four semesters worth of Chinese. I would have not been able to complete the CET Harbin program and they gave me the basic building blocks of Mandarin to connect the dots. As the program progressed, I started to check Pleco less and less to eventually leading to not really needing it. At the end of the language pledge where everyone could start speaking English again, the tables have turned. I actually had to translate for Ayden what other CET students were talking about or asking him a question in English. Moreover, I believe CET Harbin is an exceptional study abroad program and recommend all students studying Mandarin to attend this program.
On a side note. For my featured image of this blog, the picture is of Harbin’s main bridge and it’s about a half-mile that you can walk. It is another place Ayden took me to that CET did not.