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“From the easy island breezes of Barbados to the bright lights of Beijing”
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“From the easy island breezes of Barbados to the bright lights of Beijing”

Recently arrived in Beijing to begin a masters degree in social development and public policy, Leigh-Ann Worrell, 24, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Barbados finds the change of scene an eye-opening experience.

Culture shock. It is the dreaded, but necessary, reaction to norms and traditions unlike those an individual has held close for their entire existence.

Some believe it hits when something obtuse to everyday living as you may know it occurs, but I am starting to believe it is in all of the little things.

Let me explain: I am a fresh uproot from the easy island breezes of Barbados to the bright lights of Beijing, China.

I arrived here at the end of August to pursue my masters. I read as much as I could about the city – the fastest growing one in the world – so that when I got here I could adjust as fast as I can.

Did it work? A little.

Truth is, it is one thing to read about a country, and quite another to experience it in living colour. And the palette is a vivid one: the streets are always bursting with people selling apples, appliances and everything in between.

Most days, the smog hovers about the skyline (which I have been told has gotten better since the hosting of the 2008 Beijing Olympics) while second-hand cigarette smoke pollutes the air below.

The minor things, like the staring due to the fact that I am of a different race, can be uncomfortable most times, and that is also something no blog or website can prepare anyone for.

Despite these issues, however, the vibrancy of the city has been quite an enjoyable experience, as is interacting with students from both China and other countries across the globe.

Additionally, if there is one thing that moving to a different country teaches you, it is to appreciate your home a bit more.

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About me:

“I am a reporter for www.barbadostoday.bb. I am passionate about women’s rights issues, theatre arts and cats. I like hanging out with my friends, live for the beach and (sorta) enjoy cooking. I eventually to work in the gender and development field in any part of the world.”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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