My name is Daylan Salmeron Gomez, I am an international student from a small town called San Vicente in the cantón of Turrialba in Costa Rica. I am a Junior majoring in International Economics- Multilanguage (Arabic-Chinese) combined major and minor in Francophone Studies. In the Fall of 2018, I participated in the CIEE Accelerated Chinese Program in Shanghai, China.
During my time in China I had the chance of developing a project that I called The Art of Chinese Living, thanks to the contribution Hallenbeck travel grant I was able to look at the aspects of Chinese daily life and find what makes it so fascinating. I got this idea after my FYP called, The Art of Living, which mainly focused on European culture. Through this project I had the opportunity of traveling around China and seeing different aspects of the country. My final goal through this project was to develop a website in which I could share my experiences and break stereotypes about this country and its peoples. Another goal that I had, besides learning the language, was to bend with the Chinese culture, and try to integrate myself as much as a I could.
The outcome of this experience, from a personal point of view, was truly amazing. I grew up with preconceives ideas of the Chinese thinking of them as rude and not approachable. However, as I learned the language, I realized that there is a lot that get lost in translation. The Chinese Language as a whole is has a very direct structure, and most important, is very respectful. Technology was something that had the biggest impact on my daily life in china. Everything, absolutely everything, is done with the mobile phone. From paying at the subway station to buying fruits in the streets, without a phone, living in one of China’s mega cities such as Shanghai, it is almost impossible. I thought that this was a very interesting aspect of how a society with years and years of history managed to bend with a fast-changing technological world. I came to the conclusion that one reason for this was language. Mandarin is a language composed by characters, each one, in the early development of the language, was intended to resemble the idea that wanted to be communicated. Thus, the character for moon, would look like the moon, and the character for tree, would look like a tree. Today, great part of Chinese national memory is facilitated by their language, which just by itself, tells a story to who’s speaking it.
During my trips to the country side and other urban areas, I realized that Chinese identity and art of living was more complex of what I thought it would be. There is a sense of unity that prevails throughout the country that is strengthened by national dishes and language. At the end, I had the privilege of experiencing first-hand how an ancient culture manages to bend with technology giving life a new meaning.