Postcards from China Blog #1: Our Adventure in China Begins   – Asbury University
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Postcards from China Blog #1: Our Adventure in China Begins  

August 23, 2018

Michael Secen ’20 reflects on arriving in China with Asbury University’s China Study Abroad program.

So far, China is not what I expected. Michael Secen, China Study Abroad

I, along with a group of my classmates from Asbury University, landed in Beijing around 3:30 p.m. on a mid-August day to begin our semester in China.

Of course, I had read news articles and blog posts about how to act and what to eat – such as never leave your chopsticks sticking up in the bowl. I even attended a couple of meetings about what we could expect from our semester in China. But, as I soon discovered, nothing could have prepared me for a country so vastly incomparable with any other place on earth.

Though I was exhausted, I was wide-eyed with excitement as this is my first time in Asia. As we set foot in Beijing International Airport, my weariness was replaced with adrenaline and enthusiasm as it started to become a reality that we had just landed in China.

The moment we stepped out of the airport, I was immediately surrounded by a scent I had never smelled before; it clung to the late summer air. We were definitely no longer in horse country Kentucky. As we boarded the van that would take us to our hotel, the thought that we just landed halfway around the world began to become clearer. 

At first, the roads proved surprisingly similar to Kentucky roads. Trees and bushes lined our highway and familiar cars such as Volkswagens and Mercedes Benzes zoomed past us. But then, things began to rapidly change. High-rise apartment buildings began to emerge one after another, and soon, they were all around us. Reality continued to set in as I noticed more and more Chinese characters on billboards and buildings. As we drove deeper into the city, shops and restaurants I have never seen before lined the streets. I jumped as our driver blared his horn at a cyclist. Everywhere I looked was something new; this new culture engulfed each and every one of my senses.

It was then that it really hit me: I am now living in China. For the first time, I am immersed in a culture that is completely – in so many different aspects – different from America. Somehow, this realization was a profound one to me. I didn’t know how to prepare myself for a culture so different from my own. 

Up until that point, my eyes had still seen everything through an American and Western perspective. Deep within, I wanted to believe that America was the only culture that “worked.” Now, thanks to the opportunity to participate in Asbury’s China Study Abroad program, I was able to see another culture – to be fully immersed in it. I could see the people. My mind could now accept what I saw and not compare it to the standard I had created in my mind and allowed America to shape.

The simple, yet powerful revelation that all of these people are image-bearers of Christ and are all loved perfectly and equally by Him flooded into my mind and filled me with a newfound energy to discover the beauty of Chinese culture. I thank God for the opportunity He has provided me and each of my fellow Asbury students with and I pray that He will move mightily through us as we live immersed in all this wonderful country has to offer.