Before China (1st entry) -written 8/30/09

Wow! What a crazy whirlwind it has been so far. It surprises me every day, because life shouldn’t be this good. Contrary to what my confused logic tells me, things just seem to be getting better and better. I have just come away from one of the best summers of my life. I started my summer off learning Russian martial arts at a Sufi retreat, hidden in a little pocket of upstate New York. I wandered back home at some point to discover a new social side of myself; getting to be the life of parties I never thought I would have been invited to. I have read more books this summer than at any other period of my life, delving into every subject I could get my hands on, from neo-Gnosticism, to fashion, and Dominican history. I have done everything I could have possibly wanted this summer, and now, of all things, I am going to China, to attend Nanjing University, for a full year! I have got to be the luckiest guy in the world.

My job right now is to get everything together. I need to check and double check every little detail to make sure I don’t forget anything. In all likelihood I probably will miss something, but I could care less. I will live in a cardboard box if I have to. I am that excited. Before I had this opportunity, my friends always joked that I would be the first illegal immigrant into China. Most of the time it is hard to focus and in this moment my world seems too unreal to me, since I know I am going to leave soon for bigger and better things. I have never actually been out of the country before. The furthest I have ever traveled was to Florida when I was twelve. So, this is going to be quite the leap for me.

While I am still somewhat grounded I want to dedicate this entry to the people who made this possible. Firstly, I want give my overwhelming appreciation to everyone at the Levin Institute and the Chinese Government. They are the ones who offered the scholarship that is allowing me to go. I hope I can prove myself worthy of their kindness. Any success I have from this trip is done in their name. They are really going to change the world with the work they are doing.

I want to thank Carlton Rounds, the Assistant Director of Study Abroad at SUNY New Paltz. You have been unbelievably patient and knowledgeable every step of the way. I wish words could express how truly grateful I am to you, but I imagine you wow people all the time with your charisma and abundant compassion. So, it’s probably nothing too surprising for you. You truly are a great man who I deeply admire.

I give my thanks to the many professors who helped me get into this program by showing their support. Professors Heath, Appelbaum, and Elstein of the philosophy department all helped with my recommendations and I know I couldn’t have done this without them. Most importantly among my teachers I want to thank Professor Chien, my first Chinese instructor. I know I have had my struggles in the subject over our time together, but I hope I can make you proud with my success abroad. You have been a great well of kindness along my road to learning the language.

Most importantly I would like to thank my Mother who put all her time, energy, and love into helping me along this road. I have no doubt that she is going to miss me, but for the most part, all she feels is pride at seeing me live my dreams. I know I give you trouble sometimes [like any good kid should do for their parents 😉 ], but in the end my feelings only amount to profound gratitude. I love you, Mom!

This is the beginning of a new era, for me and all of my loved ones. I look forward to the ups and downs that will come with this new adventure. I stand jittery from excitement, but face this change head on, prepared for things sublime and wonderful. In the future, I will do my best to say here, all the crazy things that I encounter in China as they arise, but I know that some things you just can’t put into words. For now I will do my best to take things with an open mind and an open heart.

Wish me luck!

Hey, everybody! My names Liam, and right now I'm living a dream that I didn't think would come true. I am living in China, studying at Nanjing University for a full ten months. Don't ask me why I wanted it so badly, I've just always been drawn to the culture. Europe sounded too comfortable to me, and there are so many chances for growth and adventure in this country. As for me I like finding a good adventure outside of the mainstream, having a challenge, and reading a few books (at once) when I get the free time.

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