Students' Favorite Memories from the Summer

Authored by:
Jennifer Rives

Jennifer Rives

Can you tell us some of your favorite memories from the program?

“It’s hard to choose just one favorite memory because there are so many! One memory that I really liked was when we all climbed up the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum because that was a physical hardship for us, but it was so amazing when we got to the top and got to see what Nanjing looks like from up high. Enjoying the view with everyone else while getting to learn about the history of the place was special for me. Also, I was the first one who got to the top, so that was pretty fun! " – Sophia, Level 4

The Top of the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum

“My favorite memories are the little ones. I would do something and then my host sister would tell me, “Oh no, don’t do that! No, don’t say that! That means this!”

For instance, I was about to write in a red pen, but then she stopped me and told me, “No, don’t do that! That’s only for people who are dead!” I was very confused when she said that, so she had to explain to me that, in China, if you write someone’s name in red, it means that you either want them to die or that they’re already dead. So, you’re not supposed to write anything in red.

Chloé and Her Host Family

She also told me about what it means if you wear a green hat. If a man’s wife is cheating on him, he has to wear a green hat so everyone will know that that’s happening. So, it’s a really embarrassing thing. I didn’t know that before, but after she told me that, I kept noticing all these baseball caps in some of the stores that were different colors but had type on them that said “Green,” so they were supposed to be making fun of the green hat thing. I thought it was pretty funny.” – Chloé O, Level 2

“I liked our first trip to Fashion Lady Shopping Plaza a lot. It was just really fun looking at all the interesting things they were selling and seeing all the misspelled English shirts.” – Eva, Level 3

Shopping at Fashion Lady Plaza

“On the second weekend, my host brother, my host mom, and my host brother’s 2 friends took me out to eat hot pot. I had never been to a hot pot place before, so they ordered pretty much everything for me. They ordered 2 pots with spicy soup and 1 pot with mild soup. I told them that I didn’t really like spicy food, and they said, “Okay.” But then they started taking the spoon, dipping it into the spicy soup, and then dipping it into the mild soup right after so that everything became spicy. Every time I put something in to cook in the mild soup and then ate it, my mouth would just start burning. They thought it was really funny. We all just ended up laughing about it, and that’s why it’s one of my favorite memories.” – Curtis, Level 2

Curtis with His Host Family

"My favorite memory from the program was our trip to Shanghai. I’m a city boy myself, so I really enjoyed seeing all the tall buildings. It was interstellar for me to see such humongous buildings compared to New York City or any other American big city." –Santiago, Level 1 

The Shanghai Bund (外滩)

“On the first week, Ethan, Jorge, Curtis and I ran into each other at the Nanjing Museum with our host families. At the time, we were all sort of struggling to communicate with our host families and develop a good connection with them. Going to the museum together, that started to change because our host families could see that we were really taking everything in and developing a strong appreciation for their culture.

Later that day, Ethan and I decided that we wanted to go explore some more of the city to learn more about the culture. So, we asked our host families if we could go to an area with a Starbucks to finish our homework. They said yes, but we were a little nervous to go on the bus by ourselves. When we got on the bus, we realized that all the information was entirely in Mandarin. So, we had no idea what to do or where to go. We ended up figuring out what to say by looking up words on Pleco. We went up to an individual to ask if we were going the right way, and he told us that we were. This was all going on in Chinese, so it was funny because the people on the bus were all surprised by us, being like, “Wow, these foreigners can speak Chinese!” It was a great experience because we really learned how to connect with people by speaking their language.” –  Robert, Level 2

Robert and Ethan at the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum 

“I liked buying bubble tea every day at 1点点 because the lady who works there was always really nice to us when we were trying to order in Chinese. Plus, the milk tea was really good.” – Chloe B, Level 3 

How have you improved personally or academically on this program?

“From being in China, I’ve increased my desire to learn Chinese. At first, my only reason for wanting to study Chinese was to speak to my grandparents because they don’t speak much English. But, from being in China and learning how to order food, communicate, and have conversations with people, I’ve developed a much greater appreciation for learning Chinese. Learning Chinese is something I want to do when I get back to the U.S. and continue to do as I grow up.” – Ethan, Level 2

Ethan with His Host Family

"Academically, I learned a lot. Honestly, our class was hard for me and I struggled at times, but I made it through! I think everyone has their struggles no matter where they go or which class they’re in, so having the supportive foundation that I got from my classmates and my Chinese teacher was what I needed to succeed on the program. Whenever I needed help, they were always there to help me. I think that I really tested my limits on this trip, but I don't regret anything at all!" – Sophia, Level 4

Sophia and Her Level 4 Classmates, Vicky, Carol, Tina, and Jenny

“CIEE has given me the opportunity to become a global student, and I’ll forever be grateful for that opportunity. Being on the program has also given me insight into how challenging learning any kind of language can be. What I learned is that it’s important to stay determined, always set goals for yourself, and take small steps to get what you want. Most importantly, you have to always move forward to achieve your goals.” – Jorge, Level 2

Jorge Meeting His Host Family on Day 1

“I took 5 years of Mandarin in middle school and Mandarin I in high school before coming on the program, but none of those classes helped. My teacher was terrible. Being in middle school, you just don’t care about learning foreign languages. I couldn’t read anything before I came here. Being here, I’ve picked up on quite a few characters, so it’s nice that I can actually read things now!” – Stephanie, Level 3 

Grace, Anna, and Stephanie at The Presidential Palace

“I think that this program has really helped me to grow academically because, in America, I don’t really have a Chinese class. My Chinese was okay at first, but through being on this program, my Chinese has improved exponentially, really quickly. I’ve also gained an appreciation for the culture through the cultural classes that we have, such as Taiji and calligraphy. Into the Community Conversations have also given me an appreciation for culture by talking with local individuals and building connections with Chinese citizens. I also think that it’s really important now more than ever for me to understand Chinese because the language is going to become really important in the coming years.” – Robert, Level 2

Robert on the Nanjing Subway

“I’m not afraid to make mistakes in the target language anymore. Before I came here, I thought that I couldn’t speak Chinese to Chinese people at all because, if I made a mistake, it would be the end of the world. But now, even if I’m making mistakes, I’m still trying to get my point across and use all of my resources to communicate. I think that’s what this program does: it teaches you that it’s fine to make mistakes because you’re a student and you’re learning. It took away the fear that I had to speak the language and made me feel much more comfortable when speaking Chinese.” – Ruby, Level 3

Ruby and Anna Learning Calligraphy with Local Students

What are your thoughts on Nanjing? What advice do you have for students looking to study in Nanjing?

"Living in Nanjing is convenient. There are buses and subways that we can use to get anywhere we want to go. There are a lot of shops around and a lot of malls, so we can buy anything we want, and it’s just right there. Nanjing just feels like home to me now. 

My advice for other students looking at language and culture programs is to come to Nanjing! I wanted to go to another place at first, but Nanjing turned out to be great. I met new people, made new friends from all over America, and improved my language skills. In Nanjing, you really get to see Chinese culture in a more historical context. There is the museum here, the Japanese War Memorial, temples, the wall, the lakes, a lot of nature, as well as the city. I feel like it's really well-rounded here and different from a lot of other places in China.” – Vicky, Level 4

Xuanwu Lake (玄武湖)

"I really like the speed of Nanjing. On the subways and buses, people are always moving. It’s a very busy city, but at the same time, it has a lot of history. So, it’s fast moving, but with all the history here, it also feels like you’re moving really slow. I thought it was a really cool experience being here because I’ve never been in a city with this kind of feeling before."  – Anna, Level 1

Anna Looking at Art at The Presidential Palace

"Before the program, I didn’t know much about Nanjing. I had heard of it before, but it’s not as famous as Beijing or Shanghai. I would really encourage people who are thinking about coming to Nanjing to join the CIEE program. Once you come here, you’ll love this place. It’s amazing with its historical background as well as its modern city life.” – Carol, Level 4

The Confucius Temple (夫子庙)

"I think that Nanjing is pretty underrated. Some of the students who attended the program this summer didn’t originally choose Nanjing as their first choice, including myself. But, I know that no one has any regrets about coming here, and I certainly don't regret it either. As my teacher said, a lot of people don’t think of Nanjing when they think of China, but when people come here and leave here, they’re never disappointed. So, I hope that whoever is applying to a Chinese language and culture program will consider coming to Nanjing because it’s awesome!” – Sophia, Level 4

All of Us at The Presidential Palace (总统府)


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