Da jia hao!
My name is Kayla Olivas and I’m a sophomore at Gallatin. I’m currently concentrating in Marketing, Media, Communications, Fashion and Minoring in Chinese. I decided to study away here in Shanghai to learn more about Chinese Media and improve my Chinese language skills, as well as get to know and connect with my relatives that live here in the city. So from what I just said I’m sure you’ve gathered that I am part Chinese. I was born and raised in Burbank, California and I am half Chinese, while the rest of me is a jumble of Mexican, Spanish, and three different Native American tribes so I guess you could say I’m pretty diverse. Growing up with such a unique background has made me a very open-minded person, my parents have always insisted me to think outside the box and go out of my comfort zone.
I think a lot of people would be hesitant to go to a place like China to study abroad for a number of reasons. The language barrier is the most obvious reason, but I also think people have this idea that China is a country that’s completely backwards from America. What I’m hoping to do on this trip is document my experience here and show people who may have this preconceived notion that Shanghai in particular is actually such an incredible, modernized, and westernized city. It’s really not too different from New York City. I’m so thrilled to be living in Shanghai for the next four months and I know this experience will be so life changing that I want to encourage other people to come here.
Upon arriving here in Shanghai with my mom I was very anxious, as any normal person would be. The idea of living in a completely new country for four months terrified me. Growing up, my family traveled quite frequently so I’d like to think that I’m a fairly experienced traveler, but traveling somewhere for a couple weeks is definitely different from living there. I would say what I’m most nervous about is this trip going by too fast. I’m so excited just to have the opportunity to be here, I hope to make the best of this semester and take advantage of everything Shanghai has to offer. This trip is definitely not going to be me only going to school and going home. I plan to travel in and out of the country as much as possible, explore parts of Old Shanghai and discover more about my family history, make new friends, and find out more about myself as a person.
In the past week I’ve already fallen in love with the city. It has so much to offer and so much history to it. I know that these next four months will fly by, but will consist of experiences and memories that will teach me so much about life in general and that I will never forget. I hope to remember to tell myself to live in the moment. Often times I find myself focusing on the little things in life and forgetting to look at the big picture. I hope this semester will teach me to be a more adventurous, appreciative, and willing person. I can’t wait to see what this semester in Shanghai has in store for me…. So let’s find out!