I am officially back in Canada as of late last night! Because of a slight delay in my flight from Beijing to Toronto, I missed my tight connection to Montreal but eventually made it home, only a few hours later than initially planned. It felt great to be able to actually understand the airport direction signs, and not have to guess whether I was going in the right direction, as I did almost every day in China. I say this now, but I’m certain that I will grow to miss my moments of hesitation as I would stand in front of signs pointing in different directions that, to me, could very well have been saying the same thing. I initially dreaded these seconds and sometimes minutes of uncertainty, however I’ve become aware that every moment of confusion was a part of the whole experience, one that I’ll never forget.
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to meet a dozen Norwegians who had just completed a semester abroad of grad school in Shanghai. To my surprise, nearly all of them said that they would be coming back within the next few months, either for work or for their continued education. Every single one of them stated the same reason: “This place is amazing, and I would miss it too much if I didn’t try to come back.” This stuck with me, and as I looked out my window during takeoff from Beijing, a million thoughts raced through my head. Would I ever come back? I certainly hope so. Did I forget to do anything or meet anyone? I certainly hope not. Will I remember everything? Everyone I met, every meeting I had, every visit I made? I told myself that my many pages of notes would help, as I jotted down everything and anything I saw on a daily basis. Maybe most importantly, I asked myself if I would be able to do this trip justice when people asked me about it back home, or once I started writing my report. There’s an infinite number of little details that went into making this adventure memorable, such as my rushed and somewhat panicked change of plans halfway through the trip, or my wild run through the Shanghai train station under the watchful eyes of many intrigued citizens, or the image of me holding a newborn baby on the streets of Beijing in order to pose for pictures, as per the mother’s wishes. While I may forget to recount a few important aspects of my trip, I’m hopeful that people have, through these blog posts, come to understand the incredible experience that China offered me. I arrived with an idea of what I wanted to research, but I left with so much more information than I could have hoped for. While my main focus was basketball in China, I also learned a lot about the potential of the market, its benefits and its drawbacks for international companies, as well as the culture that is so vital to the Chinese business world.
I’m extremely proud of the past month of my life, and I’m thankful to have had the supporting staff to make this trip possible. My adventures in China have unfortunately yet successfully come to an end, so while it is goodbye for now, who knows when I will be going back across the world and re-activating this blog! Thank you all for the support, it truly meant a lot to me.