Tuesday, October 4, 2016

HNC Orientation: Welcome to Nanjing!

Earlier this month, the new cohort of HNC students arrived in Nanjing. Student blogger, Tarela Osuobeni, HNC Certificate student, recounts her first few days at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. 

On September 10th, I arrived at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center triumphant and giddy over successfully navigating the Shanghai transportation system to Nanjing. After making my way through the HNC entrance, reality struck when the desk counter clerk greeted me in Chinese and began to explain the room check-in process. I felt my ears adjust to the familiar tones and word jumbles I had grown so accustomed to throughout years of Chinese studies. Travel exhaustion threatened to hit for a moment, but I soon felt my elation return. I had safely made it to China and was ready to embark on new adventures that would stretch language, personal and academic boundaries.

Arriving at the HNC 
The novelty of the HNC took on a formal sense the next day as my classmates and I started the week of a jammed-packed, resource-filled and entertaining orientation. Self-introductions started in the morning, as Chinese and international students alike exchanged China stories and indulged in language immersion, testing out the peculiar parameters our Chinese and dialects over breakfast. As we laid the foundations for new friendships, we also exchanged questions about course workload and Nanjing nightlife. I was relieved to be around like-minded people—it seemed we had all been following parallel academic roads and had finally stopped at the same intersection.

A view of the HNC pond 

That morning, the HNC’s American and Chinese Co-directors welcomed us in both Chinese and English. Throughout the week we attended sessions on academic life, safety, and career services. However, nothing compared to the week’s highlights, which included attending a guest lecture by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Alito and participating in the Mid-Autumn Festival Party. During the party we had a chance to socialize and discover the talents of our peers, who performed pieces from Cohen’s Hallelujah to 月亮代表我的心 (The Moon Represents My Heart—A famous Chinese song).

Xuanwu Lake 

However, social bonding was not confined within the walls of the HNC. On Saturday morning a group of us ventured to the old Nanjing city wall and the beautiful Xuanwu Lake Park. Lotus flowers outlined edges of the lake, which carried boats of all sorts that departed from the bank where eager tourists waited. As we strolled along the path, we marveled at the Chinese-styled gardens, the Purple Mountains in the far distance and the sea of people that surrounded us. At the same time, our conversations drifted through various topics, from the development of simplified Mandarin, to trends in Chinese modern culture. As the culmination of orientation set in throughout the weekend, with the opening ceremony to cap it off, it became clear that we had begun a year of fulfilling experiences and ongoing dialogue about the U.S. and China.

Written by Tarela Osuobeni, HNC Certificate ‘17