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Name: Taras M. Czebiniak
Country: United States
Interests: travel, classical music, reading, SCUBA diving, watching tv
"It was a rewarding challenge to balance my studies with exploration of the city."
Q: How are you finding your studies in China?
A: I have really been enjoying my studies. I came to Shanghai with certain goals for my language development and I think that I have met those. Among them has been to gain a working familiarity with Chinese characters, and by studying them in parallel with the regular intensive Mandarin House course I feel that I have really progressed. Not only that, but I also find the city that much more accessible when you can recognize a certain number of basic characters. I found that there is so much to learn while studying Chinese that I never had a chance to be bored! It was a rewarding challenge to balance my studies with exploration of the city.
Q: What do you find most interesting about Shanghai?
A: Shanghai is such a fascinating city where ancient China meets modern world-class metropolis. The striking skyline is one of the most magnificent I can imagine, and I am at a loss to explain the magnetism that it emits. Walking through Shanghai, you inevitably walk through a city of contrasts: cultural, economic, linguistic, culinary. There is so much to see and explore, and I found myself often pondering not only China's place within the international order but also my own. I can certainly say that living in Shanghai for two months opened my views of not only China but also of where I want to take my graduate studies and career. Shanghai is truly a magnificent place for both external exploration and introspection.
Q: What advice/tips would you give to others who plan to come and study in China?
A: I would advise anyone considering study in China to come armed with an open mind, lots of patience, and the ability to find enjoyment in unexpected places. China is so different from the West but it has developed a system that works - you just have to persevere in discovering it daily in little ways. Studying Chinese can be frustrating at times because of all the different accents and manners of speaking - but each interaction adds to your knowledge and prepares you for the next. Sometimes you might come across hardships or the lack of the amenities at home, but when you see these moments as chances to appreciate cultural differences you will find yourself missing China's own unique amenities when you return home!