Units of Closure

In The Art of Travel Fall 2015, Shanghai, Looking back by Sammy Song1 Comment

I almost prefer the earlier blog prompts assigned with reference sources because lately without the departure point of that literature I can hardly muster anything to write about. It seems the unremarkable circumstances of my daily living can inspire me to say far less than can critical literature having already reckoned with ground-level accidents of living. Instead of the primordial lived experience of subjectivity so-called the visceral, unreflective immersion of being-there, I noticed from the blogging process my observational detachment from daily living insofar as my preference to withhold my instincts and biases from carving up everything in advance of sober deliberation. Hence I tend to be quite unopinionated unless I can articulate my thoughts from beginning to end. That I prefer to negotiate the perspectives of the literature I reckon with rather than my own should be hardly any surprise. I realize of course the entirety of myself can never be fully self –present and –transparent because nobody can rationalize every contingency of themself beneath their consistent self-understanding. Yet I still criticize myself for the inconsistencies and dissonances of the few convictions I let myself embody.

If anything the demand to square and align my experiences into the templates of the blog prompts entailed that I carve up my overall experience abroad into concept-laden meanings instead of an undifferentiated, boundaryless manifold. In particular for this farewell post I have to parse my experience abroad into units of closure. For me the most rewarding of my experiences abroad have been apropos of the people I met among my on-campus peers as well as my faraway relatives whom I hardly ever visit. Given lately my improved fluency in Mandarin I can at least somewhat communicate with them. Doubtless I intend following my homecoming to resume communication both with my relatives here and with the peers I connected with over the past few months. Although I decided against another semester of the Mandarin program, I plan of course for continued maintenance of my Mandarin because after all I planned to study abroad here both for the valuable asset of subfluency in Mandarin and for the cross-cultural lens onto my studies.

Indeed since I expected the demand for Eastern-literature Americans to ensure the future value of graduates educated like so, I intended for my Gallatin concentration to be a cross-cultural comparative project between my Chinese ancestry and my interest in media and communication theory grounded in the Western tradition. I intended to fill in the blanks of neglected Eastern thought within the Western humanities. Although for sure throughout my schoolwork this semester I negotiated these antipodal traditions, I cannot profess myself to have fallen in love with this cross-cultural comparative project I intended. If anything my negotiation of these traditions has only enabled me to apprehend further dimensions of my motherland tradition—namely, of the West—from unexpected angles had I never approached my studies from here in the East. Since next semester I plan to supplement my studies with Professor Harkness for further inquiry, I can continue to sharpen and solidify my concentration in accordance.

After my formal responsibilities can be forgotten after an exam on Thursday, I plan to move in with family for a month until my homecoming. Hence my feelings about closure to the semester may be different from those of my peers. Instead I can express my delight to be immersed here across the globe for another month. Yet to be honest I look forward, as soon as I return home, to marathon the films I have to miss and have missed during my stay in Shanghai.


  1. Hey Sammy, your concentration sounds fascinating in how it ties in your ancestry with Western traditions. Even if you surprised yourself with not necessarily falling in love with these subjects to compare, it sounds like being in Shanghai helped to open your eyes to new directions your concentration can move towards or new ideas that can help to shape it even more. I hope my concentration starts taking form! And best of luck catching up on all the films!

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