Ok, so I know this is not actually part of the pre-departure orientation (PDO) but I wanted to share some of my feelings, concerns, and things I was most excited for in the last couple days and weeks leading up to PDO.
Right up until my last office hour session, I was feeling pretty excited and had absolutely no worries about China. However, during my last office hour session, I began to realize the struggles and challenges that accompany this program. I was with another nsliy student who was at a significantly higher language ability than me during that session, so I began to feel a little insecure about my Chinese abilities. This was about 1 week before PDO, so I think that it was finally sinking in with me that I am actually going to live in China for six weeks – and that I can hardly speak Chinese. I remember worrying about my host family, especially since I was one of the last people in my whole group to hear about my family (my family never actually reached out to me, I only got their information through nsliy). What I was most worried about wasn’t them not liking me, but rather my inability to communicate with them because I don’t speak conversational Chinese. Additionally, I was beginning to miss my parents and friends, knowing that I would be half-way across the world from them for an extended period of time.
I probably hit my lowest point before departing on that day. After getting off the videochat, I kind-of broke down just for a couple minutes. I just needed to take everything in – I felt like I had just been hit in the face with reality and needed a minute to cope. But I knew that I signed up for a reason, and was chosen for nsliy because I was capable of doing this. And, most importantly, I wanted to do this. Just a few minutes later, I was back to being completely excited about my upcoming trip! But I do think that it is healthy to acknowledge the reality that not everything will come easy at the beginning, but being able to power through is what sets the weak apart from the strong.