About the author: Jay Gonzalez ’20 is a student with FSI’s Fall 2018 China Studies in Beijing program. Jay is currently a Stanford undergraduate majoring in east asian studies.
We did it! This is the end of the very beginning! As someone who has been around the world and studied abroad, I can say without a doubt that there is no program better than this one at Stanford. Even if you had no interest or knowledge of China, you would have loved to be here because we actually did have a few with us like that and they left China in love.
This program changed my life more than I would have ever thought because during the quarter a lot of family issues back at home began challenging me, but had it not been for the loving support of the Stanford Center at Peking University (SCPKU) staff and faculty (Our Dream Team of Oi, Walder, Rozelle, and Fingar) I would have never gotten through it. I feel like the second half of my quarter was me flying back and forth between China and the US on an almost weekly basis, so there was never ever a reason to miss America for me, but I actually missed the program. There is nothing like the feeling of our center that was there for us 24/7 as we wrote essays, prepared for presentation, and conducted interviews. It had everything we needed from desk space to a stage, multiple kitchenette spaces, multiple living/fun rooms, computer labs, and 24/7 staff members ensuring that we were there safely, but who always gave us our space (we aren't there alone, but it’s a 3 floor building and when the guards are at the gate you can definitely feel the peace and quiet). I loved the center, and I loved the people who worked there.
Our mighty crew of 8 students was filled with fun, loving, and intellectual people that collaborated on work, helping each other skype in when we went to conferences in Dubai, Taiwan, America, etc, and lived together in harmony. We became friends, and maybe even as far as family. But don’t think it’s just us interacting with each other, because we are still living at Peking University (PKU) after all! We lived in the Yanqing program filled with students from all over the world here for a 2 year masters. Our classes are filled with PKU, Oxford, Cambridge, and Nanyang Tech students. Additionally, there are plenty of international students in Beijing, as well as a 20 million person population of the city itself. We were far from alone and in the distance. At SCPKU, we were more so at the center of the world than even Stanford’s main campus. I will never forget the friends I have made, and I know we will literally go around the world when we are done here, but I know we will never be more than a call away.
Before SCPKU, I was a little lost. I did not know what I wanted to do because I felt that I had lost my drive and passion for life. I was complacent with my life as a flight attendant because it is a really good life, but I knew there was something more, but nothing made me sparkle anymore. I came to SCPKU because 10 years ago I had dreamt of coming to PKU, and that was when I had the drive to achieve anything in the world, so I wanted that ambition rejuvenated. I felt that coming to China would bring back the memories of what made me who I am today because I grew up here in the sense that my maturity happened when I moved to China alone as a teenager knowing nothing about China or anyone here. I was thrown into this unknown land and I came out as a poor first generation chicano worthy of attending Stanford, as well as many other institutions. I came back for that guy and I found him. Even in my short time here, I achieved goals such as giving a national speech, traveling to places I have always wanted to go, and most importantly, marrying a Chinese national. Studying policy day in and day out made me realize that I love studying law and how it affects people. I love studying Asia, and its developments and declines. I love being here and clearly I love the people here. SCPKU helped me realize that I do want to pursue International Policy and strive to become a lawyer. We can strive to be ourselves in the best possible way. I may have been born Mexican, but I have more Chinese pride in me than anything else.
SCPKU is a place where you will find yourself and learn about the world from the world’s best Chinese experts, but still maintain a balanced cross-cultural perspective. I hope this program keeps on going just as it runs today because it wouldn’t the same without our four actual Stanford faculty, our small group, our international community, our adult-respected freedom, our 24/7 resources, and wonderful trips. Come to SCPKU and find out for yourself what this place can truly do for you. Even though I missed “fall quarter” at Stanford, I can honestly say this was my favorite quarter at Stanford.