Since the end of the CET Harbin program until the start of my next study abroad program CIEE Shanghai, I have actually not left China and do not plan on going back to the US until December. In total, my whole entire study abroad venture in China is just over six months. Two months in Harbin and four months in Shanghai. The time in between programs; this past week I have been in Jiaxing (a Chinese city an hour and a half outside of Shanghai) and then the week before, I was in Shanghai staying with my Chinese friend who I met back at Pitt and his family. I plan on returning to Shanghai on September 1st because that is when my program officially kicks off.
Now for the bigger questions, why did I decide not to return to the US in between programs and study abroad in China for six months. Well, first off, when I planned out my study abroad program. I wanted maximum language results and full-on immersion to Chinese culture. Besides, it is also an extra twenty-one-days of language practice out of my total one hundred and eighty-six days in China. A lot of language progress can be made within three weeks. For example, my time in between programs so far, I believe my Mandarin listening skills have greatly increased because I have started hearing Chinese accents for the first time which I have not been exposed to before. Since people of Harbin speak the most standard Mandarin in China. What I mean by accents, it seems you hear them say 4 am but really they saying 10 am. You know it does not make sense at first then you quickly figure out it. I guess the best way to explain this phenomenon for Americans to relate is saying fifteen or fifty thousand. My point here is that every bit of practice counts and I want to take advantage as much as I can being in China.
Finally, out of all the other fall study abroad programs, why did I choose CIEE? The main reason why I choose CIEE is that the classes they offered and the location. I can transfer specific classes back to Pitt and receive major credit. What I hope to get out of this program is a fluent speaking level of Mandarin and some lifelong friendships. I would say right now I am a proficient speaker with an asterisk. I am pretty comfortable conveying what I want to say in Mandarin, but I still need to improve my listening comprehension. People say writing characters is the hardest, I actually disagree. From diverse accents to numerous Chinese homonyms, I think listening is the hardest.