Why me? Why Beijing?

Trip Start Jun 14, 2012
Trip End Jul 02, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Monday, June 11, 2012

My name is Guide. No, that's a pseudonym or an unoriginal screen name, my name really is Guidon 'Guide' Sobecki. I'm currently a senior at Northern Illinois University, and I must say it's been an unusually eventful few years in DeKalb. I double major in Corporate Communications and Sociology, minoring in both Chinese Studies and Southeast Asian Studies. For those keeping track, I have two majors, two minors, two jobs working for NIU, I belong to a handful of student organizations, this is the second country I will be studying abroad in, and in the fall I'm beginning second foreign language. Am I insane? Probably, I'll have to get that checked out if I ever get some free time.

After years of planning, some dedicated NIU faculty members have managed to arrange a short but intense study abroad trip taking place in Beijing, the political capitol of China. This trip is a collaboration between three of NIU's cultural centers: The Asian American Center, Center for Black Studies, and the Latino Resource Center. This trip attracted a diverse collection of students and faculty from various disciplines and backgrounds, all brought together to represent Northern on the first trip of this kind. The group gathered for the first time early this year, and in three days we'll be flying over the Pacific. 
After three years of learning Mandarin and living closely with the Chinese-American population of NIU, I'll be making a capstone on my minor in Chinese Studies with this unique academic opportunity. My Mandarin is admittedly quite weak, but I've buried myself in the study of Chinese culture and history for years and truly need to see it in person. The average American knows China for its artistic writing, its food, and the occasional martial arts film. That can only get you so far in a global economy, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't watch Enter the Dragon. As China and the United States are growing heavily dependent on each other economically, the cultural collide that's about to occur is going to legendary. NIU has been able to immerse me in this reality, and now is giving me the chance to see it with my own eyes. 
This blog is being written with three goals in mind from start to finish.
  -Promote the many opportunities in language and study abroad at NIU
 .-Educate future travelers with information about Beijing, Chinese culture, and practical advice.
  -Record my own experiences and thoughts for future reflection and considerable entertainment value. 
If you're reading this to determine whether or not you should study abroad, the answer is yes. Just do it. You've heard everyone tell you how amazing it is, it changed their life, yadda-yadda-yadda, (insert emotional speech here), so many options and choices...Just stop reading all that, and go do it. 
Now if you excuse me...I should probably start packing. 
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Dave Nay on

Have fun. I spent three weeks in China in 2001. We got to see the Three Rives Gorge area before it was flooded by the dam.

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