Brendon Dawson

Adjusting to life in China has been a constant learning experience, like the ebb and flow of the tide, at times the waves of struggle can be endless. I have found that to successfully integrate and succeed here I have had to change the ways that I relax and enjoy myself in this new environment. I grew up on the water in British Columbia and have a deep love of nature, hiking, and exposing myself to the outdoors. This was how I found serenity and peace in my active life.  Some of my biggest struggles in China were due to my inability to find this same peace that I could cultivate at home which forced me to find other avenues.

China is a source of constant stimulation, the amount of activity and goings on can be endless yet the beauty of the city of Shanghai in some ways in unparalleled. I am reminded of a walk that I took with a friend on a crisp Sunday afternoon on route to a small bakery that imported their flour from France (which a friend and I frequented often). We decided to take the long route and walk through a pedestrian area in Puxi towards the Bund. Perhaps it was something about the light or the old colonial buildings but I found myself cultivating that same mindfulness and appreciation for my surroundings despite the lack of nature that over the course of my life has come to be a point of stability. This urban forest presented new opportunities to explore and although developed and heavily urbanized Shanghai has a wildness to it that also exists in the forest.

This realization underpinned my experiences and has allowed me not only to take in all that is going on but to also reflect on what I have done and the direction I am moving in. I think this is an important factor when studying abroad. A commitment to your past and the ways in which you have nurtured your own support but also a realization of your current situation and your needs. Success can be measured in many ways and in a society like China, where daily life for a foreigner can seem hectic at best, creating stability wherever it may be is, in my opinion, integral to your studies and daily interactions.

By: Brendon Dawson

Brendon is currently studying International Business at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics under support of the Canada-China Scholar Exchange Program financed both by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Government. He originally hails from Courtenay, British Columbia and completed his undergraduate degree at Queen’s University in Ontario. Brendon has participated in exchange programs to France, Germany, Indonesia, and Japan and enjoys traveling, cooking, and has a peculiar interest in trains, locomotives, and public transit systems. He will be studying in Shanghai for one year before returning to his native British Columbia.

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