Commentary from China


 One Student. One Semester. One major life experience.  

Misty's Story

Misty Raley studied in Xiamen, China through the Best Semester Program- China Studies Program.

Entry #4

Hello All-

I'm on the last part of the trek around China. We just finished our visit in Beijing, what a wonderful city. I have so many great memories that were made along my travels to see the Great Wall, while seeing a Panda at the Beijing Zoo, while visiting the gorgeous Summer Palace, while roller skating outside the 2008 Beijing Olympics Bird's Nest and many other wonderful sights.  I traveled up the great wall 880 meters. I could have bought a plaque with the height reached and my name engraved on it but I decided to spend my money on food instead :) For those who keep asking I finally ate some weird food, including a scorpion. It was crunchy and yes I got a video of the experience. It is not common food in Beijing, but if you go to the Night Market you can try all sorts of strange food.




So far my pictures are in the thousands... hoping my memory holds up on my laptop :)  My health is good. The group is connecting and so far everyone has remained safe.

I couldn't have picked a better group to be in China with and I'll be sad when we all separate. The journey hasn't been without its struggles but I've tried to take each moment at a time and enjoy it. I still am in shock that I'm in China.

I love traveling and seeing all these amazing things but I'll be glad to be back on campus on Monday. Things have been very fast paced for me.

Here are a few photos from my journey. I'll be flying back to Xiamen to start my internship in two days. I'll email you to share more details of the trek then. I can't believe I only have roughly a month before hitting US soil again.

See you soon,




Entry #3

Hello All! 

I wanted to update you on all the exciting pieces of my life lately, but first I wanted to say how much I love being able to hear about your lives in the states. I appreciate the emails and try my best to respond as soon as I can. My Internet has not been as dependable recently which is why the emails have been so few. However, we just got a new router for our Internet, so I should be able to update more.

I received news that I will be taking an internship with a newspaper in Xiamen. I am the only one in the China Studies Program here that will be taking a position with a government-based job. Because it is public and not a private business it will be completely different. I am very excited about meeting my supervisor and co-workers next Friday. Yili (the CSP Director's wife & a CSP assistant) will take me so that I can get acquainted with everyone... and best of all everyone at my workplace speaks English!! I am excited because that will allow me opportunities to practice my Chinese and they can correct me without fear. I think this is a really exciting opportunity. My job description is vague at the moment, but I will get a better feel for what is expected after Friday's meeting. I do know that I will be writing a few articles in the newspaper that allow people to view events and cultural celebrations from a foreigner's eyes. I feel very blessed to have this opportunity. I will provide more details as they become available to me. I start in November after I come back from the Trek (our 3 week journey around China.) We leave for that on the 25th of October. Well since I am in a time crunch I will end there and send you some fun photos to look at until I write again.

Take care!


Entry #2

Hello All-

I will be sure to update more as time allows. Right now it has been difficult to adjust to being at the university. I am now struggling in my Chinese class. I think as time goes on I will learn the language better, but right now it is tough. However, I enjoy the challenge.

I love my International Business class. Today we studied the structure of the Chinese Family Business model. It was fascinating to see how westernized most of the students are compared to this culture. Things that we would expect to be the basic model for business are opposite to what the Chinese consider essential. All businesses here are typically owned, operated, and financed by the family. Job titles have little or no value. If you want to make a business deal you have to get personal with the head of the family. If they do not trust you, they will refuse any business deals you offer. Western policy is typically "follow the money." While this business model is refreshing, it is not without fault. I look forward to learning more.

I am also taking Tai Ji with a legit tai ji master. He is an amazing instructor, and I love going to that class during the evenings. We meet right on the edge of one of the many campus ponds, and it is gorgeous. I have learned to really enjoy it. I am slowly getting the hang of it. I am really glad I had some experience with Yoga before I started because it is a great way to relax and practice my breathing.

I have met several friends here that are Chinese. I have even been adopted by a Chinese family here! I swap languages with their daughter Ally. She has perfect Chinese, but her English is about as good as my Chinese :) I also have made great friends with a girl named Grace. She is a master's linguistics student here. Grace has taught me so much about the Chinese culture and life here in Xiamen. She has adopted me and the other girls in CSP quickly into her life. Grace says "I will always be her little American sister." I have great stories, many of which I will have to tell you about later. I have several quizzes in my courses tomorrow morning, so I will do my best to update with pictures sometime soon.

Overall my experience has brought many daily challenges but overall great joys. I am amazed every day by the things I get to see and experience. The food is so colorful and delicious, the people are one of a kind, the customs are completely different here than in the United States, the history is rich, and I cannot believe I am being allowed the opportunity to see and take it all in personally. Pictures do not do this place justice.

Wishing you all well in the States. Take care!



Entry #1

Hello All- 

I just arrived in the Hong Kong International Airport. 

I have had quite an adventure already. When we were going through security in the LA Airport I was stopped because of a possible drug content in my bag. They did all sorts of testing for at least 20-30 minutes. Thankfully they discovered that neti pot salt is not a danger to society nor can I
make bundles from selling it to others. The TSA officer was really friendly and kind after he discovered I was not a criminal. He was extremely apologetic for taking me through the whole process. I was just glad I was not in any kind of real trouble. After five officers tested the materials I was free to go. 

I was in the air for a billion years (aka: 14hrs). It was intense. The bathroom situation was one of a kind. Hopefully this is not too personal, but when I flushed the toilet and it made the roaring sound, I thought the plane was about to crash. I also accidentally spilled apple juice all over the seat next to me, but thankfully it was empty. This wacky time change has made me a worse klutz than I naturally am. My cough was difficult during the flight, but I was thankful for the cough drops my mom placed in my carry-on bag. Overall, I am doing well. 

I am the only southerner in my group so far. Most people are from northern states. I am really enjoying getting to know the group. We plan on doing some exciting things in our eight days in Hong Kong. I will be going to Disney Land (Hong Kong) with some of the other group members. It is an exciting time. We have already run into so many friendly people from Hong Kong and the surrounding towns. They seem eager to meet Americans.

Thank you for all your support and kind words sent before, during, and after my flight. I am sending my love back to the states. My team is in for a real treat because this southern girl plans on having an AWESOME time in China! So, if you could, be thinking about my cough going away and send good thoughts my way.  I will send pictures when I can. 

Until next time,