Written by Rachel Glasser, (University of Pittsburgh) Student Correspondent CET Harbin, Spring 2017
Last night, I took my roommate, Si Yao, out to eat at one of our favorite places near campus. The restaurant serves mixian, a rice noodle soup bowl with all the fixings: mushrooms, quail eggs, bean sprouts, and other assorted ingredients thrown in. The restaurant’s hot pepper oil is a must-add condiment. It’s really spicy and incredibly addicting. I told Si Yao repeatedly throughout the semester that I wanted to treat her to dinner. With a week left in the program, I finally got around to it.
The day before we went out to dinner, I told Si Yao I wanted to take her out and asked her when she might have some free time. She told me I didn’t need to take her out to eat, to which I replied, “of course I do!”
I felt the need to repay her for all the times she cooked and made enough food for me without my asking, for correcting my Chinese, helping me with my homework, or answering my questions, for comforting me when I broke down in frustrated tears one day, and for going swimming with me.
A 14-yuan — two-dollar — bowl of mixian doesn’t adequately pay her back for all of that. I’m still brainstorming other ways to thank her. All of the people on this program are amazing. All of the Chinese roommates are friendly and approachable and are willing to talk to you. The other CET students are fun and we’ve pushed and motivated each other through the entire semester. The teachers know what they’re doing. They challenge us, yet encourage us to keep working and improve.
I’m convinced more and more that an experience is not shaped by what you are doing but by the people you’re with. While the structure of CET Harbin — including the language pledge, the classes, the setting — is vital to its success, the people who are part of the program have impacted me the most. I’m going to miss everyone so much, and I’m preparing for the tears I’ll inevitably shed at this Saturday’s graduation ceremony. I’m hoping I’ll have the chance to return in the future.
Until then, I’m left with great memories. Thanks CET Harbin.