Where I'm going in 2009

So, since I've been starting to make arrangements, I decided I'd take a few minutes to post about my upcoming trips.  If you come accross this blog and don't know me personally, I am a Foreign Languages major at West Virginia University, studying Spanish and Chinese Studies.  That might seem a little odd, and the story of how that came about is somewhat interesting,but I'll leave that for another time -- I generally tell people that with English as my first language, this gives me the three most important languages in the world.

Anyway, I started this blog to post about two study abroad trips that I'll be taking this year.  The first one is to Guanajuato, Mexico (program page here), and it will be leaving May 9, meaning I'm hurrying to prepare for this one while at the same time studying for exams and working on final projects.  WVU has a number of exchange programs with la Universidad de Guanajuato.  This program is in there language school, which I'm told has a full range of courses from basic Spanish 101 up to advanced literature and culture courses.  I've already met several people from Guanajuato through exchanges and I'm very much looking forward to going there, partly because of friends there and partly because in three years of studying Spanish in the university (and a couple more back in high school), I have never been to a Spanish-speaking country or even to one of the predominantly Hispanic parts of the United States.  Mexico seems like a good place to start, close to home, I know people there, and it's the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.

My second trip is to Hangzhou, China (中国杭州).  I'll be leaving in the fall to study there at Zhejiang University (浙江大学), one of the most prestigious schools in China, for a semester.  A semester study abroad is basically required for the Chinese Studies portion of my major.  I visited Hangzhou last year while studying on Suzhou (which is just to the north).  It's near Shanghai, and while we didn't stay long enough to get a good feel for the town, my first impression was that Hangzhou would be a good "home base" for a foreigner living in China for an extended period.  It's in a fairly rich area, very foreigner friendly with a tourist-oriented atmosphere, but not as big as Shanghai or Beijing.  The size is totally relative, though -- to me, as an American coming from a small town, what Chinese think of as a "town" is a big city to me.

Anyway, if I haven't bored you enough already, come on back and take a look when I have something more to publish.  I'm hoping to do another post before I leave to talk about some of the things I've been doing to prepare for my trips.  Until then see you.