My Experiences in China vs. America: Part 1
First was the American Dream. Then came the Chinese Adventure. 2 Summer Camps, 2 Countries, and 1 Counsellor.
I’m Harry. I’m a casual Historian and complete American sports enthusiast (I guess that’s what a summer in the USA does to you). I’m also a world traveller - or at least, I’m starting to be. I’ve never really been the travelling type - that label belonged to my sister. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the comfort of my life in the UK, and the familiarity of westernised culture.
But last year, I decided to do something completely different. I signed up to go to an American summer camp with Camp Leaders. I’ve always been pretty active. So, an opportunity to spend time outside all summer was pretty enticing. It ended up being the best decision I ever made.
Writing this, I’m now days away from embarking on my next adventure. This time, I’m doing something really different. I’m heading to China in less than 2 weeks with Adventure China. I’m sure that some parts of it are going to come as a complete shock. The good news is, this time, I’m ready for it.
Intrigued by adventure? Keen to do something a bit different with your summer? This is the blog for you.
Rewind 18 Months
In January 2018 I had absolutely no idea how I was going to fill my fast approaching summer. I didn’t see the point of travelling; I felt that I was happy just being at home. A random feeling of curiosity one Monday morning influenced my call to Camp Leaders. I wanted to find out what all the excitement surrounding summer camp was all about. Was it going to be for me? The answer is yes. Before I could even blink, I had decided to sign up for what would become the best summer of my life.
My summer in America was incredible. During my 8 weeks as a bunk counsellor and swimming instructor, I learned more about myself than I could’ve ever imagined. I wouldn’t want it to have been any other way. If you’re tossing and turning about maybe doing a summer abroad, I’ll help make your decision easy: you won’t regret doing it. It’s way, way better to experience summer camp with your own eyes, rather than through your friends snapchats and endless stories.
Camp is the reason I’m starting to consider myself a world traveller, and why I’m about to head on my next adventure.
September 2018 Onwards
I'll get down to business. The reason you’re here. Why I decided to opt for China, as opposed to a return to the States.
Arriving home from my first summer abroad, displaying clear symptoms of the travel bug. I wanted to make use of my next summer (2019) in a similar manner. By this time, I didn’t know it was possible to spend the summer in China, on a cultural exchange programme. I had heard of many students opting to spend their summers in America. But, I'd never heard of anyone going to China. For me though, this only contributed to personal intrigue and excitement.
I discovered the Adventure China programme through Smaller Earth. As I've never been to Asia I signed up. I wanted something more out of my second summer abroad. I'm looking for experiences to help me when I'm back home. I want to use my last summer's experiences to become a better leader. To increase my arsenal of unique answers for job interviews and general conversation. For me, talking about camp has become a part of my personality. Speaking from experience, I know you’ll struggle to hold back your stories from envious friends.
How Will China be Different to America?
The Basics: Going Without Home Friends
This summer, I will be travelling to China for my next adventure. I’ve got the same attitude as I did for my first trip abroad to America last year. I’m travelling without friends from home, and I’ll be meeting new people in a totally new environment. My advice? You should too. Although it’s scary, I promise you, the personal gains from this will be out of this world.
After Camp Travelling: Kicking Things into Next Gear.
This is where things will get really interesting. I’m approaching my next adventure a bit differently. First off, I’m taking a hiking rucksack to China, rather than the suitcase I took to the States. This sets the tone for the summer ahead. This time, I want even more adventure. If I wanted a suitcase summer abroad, I probably would’ve gone back to America. I would’ve gone to a different camp. But, in comparison to China, it would’ve been a relatively similar experience. Walmart, endless fast-food chains, ohh and the English Language. That’s something I'm rather nervous about, exchanging the ease of tongue for Mandarin (of which, I can only say “hello”). But it’s sorta the reason I signed up for this programme, It’s a greater challenge. With a supportive team behind the programme, I know I have nothing to worry about.
A South China Hiking Expedition!
I’m already pretty deep into this blog and I haven’t even spoken about my grand ambition for this summer. As a member of the British Scouting Organisation, I want to complete a 4 day and 3 nights hike in the South of China. The hike will contribute to my 'Explorer Belt' award. Now, I'll admit I'm being very ambitious. It wouldn’t be a mad idea if it was going to be too easy though. I have only ever seen pictures of China, and I have no idea where the hike will take place. But there's one thing I do know, I will complete it. Ironically, I always tend to see myself as a bit of a pessimist. But, in this case, I seem to have changed my tune for the better. I need three more members to build my team and I’m yet to meet my fellow counsellors on this year's programme.
Moving forwards together!
Currently, I am in the preparation stage for my venture east to China. I have no idea what to expect. But, That’s what makes it exciting!
Stay tuned for part 2 in this the 3-blog series, coming soon to computer screens near you, once I’ve finished my time at camp.
Harry’s Historical Hit #1
1776 was the year America gained independence from the British Empire. China, however, boasts the longest Empire in history, traced back to 221BC under the Qin Dynasty.