Learning a language and gaining independence: a farewell to Shanghai

Zoë Gilbard '14 finishes up her Shanghai experience at the Chinese Language Summer Institute at Peddie's sister school, EFZ.


I am so happy to have had the opportunity to study at a high school in Shanghai, especially EFZ. EFZ has a beautiful campus, new dorms, and wonderful teachers. At EFZ, we have two Chinese teachers. Their names are Mr. Lin and Ms. Wang. They are both incredibly smart and engaging in class. We also have another teacher, named Ms. Ding. Ms. Ding is currently studying at a university here in Shanghai, to be a teacher. She went with us to visit many places in Shanghai. Ms. Ding was born and raised in Shanghai, so she knows the city very well. Mr. Gao and Ms. Jiang have also been living in our dorms here at EFZ, and they help and take care of us every day. In the past month, I have learned so many different things. I not only increased my knowledge of the Chinese language, and my confidence in using it, but I also learned many other important things.

First, I studied a foreign language which is especially hard to learn. I spoke, read, wrote, listened, thought, and even dreamed in Chinese. Sometimes, I felt like I was from Shanghai myself! On the street I could talk to the vendors. In the subway station I could ask the guards for directions to the bathroom. In restaurants I could order food. I am proud of how much my Chinese has improved. I am very thankful to my teachers.
Secondly, I feel as if the experiences I have had here have helped me to become a more independent student and young person. In the beginning, living in a different city was very difficult for me. I had to learn how to use the subway, where the school was, and how to bargain with street vendors. Sometimes, I had to use the subway alone, eat alone, or walk alone. A few times I was a little bit scared and a little bit homesick. I am only 15 years old, so doing these things alone was a new experience for me. I learned a lot from these experiences.
Finally, I made many new international friends. Now I have friends in a variety of countries all over the world. I smiled and laughed so much this month, and it was because I met such great friends here. They are all so smart, fun, interesting, and… they love to learn about Chinese culture. Although we came from many different places, we are all young people, so we have many similar thoughts and feelings about the world. I will miss them all very much.