How I Travel Now

Right now, I’m sitting in the airport in OKC, waiting for my flight home for winter break. After winter break, I’ll be coming back here for the spring semester at OU. But I’ve been thinking a lot about this time last year, when I was leaving Oklahoma knowing I wouldn’t be back until after I’d done a semester in China. Things are a lot different this time around. As I reflect, here are some things I’ve learned to do differently:

  1. Pack better. My freshman year winter break, I checked a 50-pound bag and had a carry-on duffel and a backpack for just a month-long break. This year, I have just a carry-on duffel and backpack – and they’re not even full! Packing light for China and my subsequent travels has definitely helped me to learn how little I actually need when traveling.
  2. Toughen up. I’m sick now; I was sick last year when I was leaving Oklahoma too. But this time, even though I feel horrible, I’m better able to push through it and do what I need to do. Traveling around Asia, including getting food poisoning in the middle of the journey, really helps with that.
  3. Say goodbye. I’m closer to my friends now than I was when I left for China last winter, but after eight months of not seeing them, 3 weeks away is nothing to worry about.
  4. Be flexible. Halfway through writing this post, my flight got cancelled. Now I’ve got a flight early tomorrow morning and plans to go wedding dress shopping with my soon-to-be-married roommate tonight. The destruction of well-laid plans is just another opportunity for adventure – which was definitely true when I was abroad.
  5. The correct travel outfit: maxi skirt (warm weather) or jeans (cold weather), comfy short-sleeved shirt that doesn’t show stains, warm socks, pull-on boots, cozy wrap sweater, simple jewelry. Works every time.

The One-Child Policy

One of the most interesting things I learned about in my China Since 1911 class this semester was the one-child policy in China. This policy, enacted in 1979, limited families to one child each, with some exceptions for rural or ethnic minority families. It was a harsh measure that has shifted the way Chinese culture views family structure; almost all Chinese families now only have one child. In 2016, the law was extended to a two-child policy.


But was the one-child policy really necessary? According to the statistics, no. The famine during Mao’s Great Leap Forward caused a huge drop in birth rates. Afterwards, during the Cultural Revolution, he pushed for increased birth rates, with the idea that more people meant a stronger China. But when a census was taken under his successor Deng Xiaoping, the startling population figures caused something of a panic, and the one-child policy was enacted to slow China’s out-of-control growth. But look at the graph: births per women had already decreased from six to less than three by the time the one-child policy was put into place. The less harsh measures Deng had been using first, such as propaganda supporting fewer children, were working. The one-child policy only further decreased the number of children by approximately one. Thus, the one-child policy, one of China’s most world-famous examples of government control,  was unnecessary to lower the population.

World Student Day of Prayer 2017

Every fall, OU’s chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship takes part in an international event called World Student Day of Prayer. InterVarsity is a part of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, which parents Christian student fellowships on campuses in 84 countries. On World Student Day, students from all those fellowships pray together for each other and the world.

This World Student Day, I focused on praying for students in the countries I visited on my study abroad trip – China, Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Christians are rare in many of these countries, but believers are there – China has the fastest-growing Christian population of any nation in the world. I read prayer cards from students, looked at fact sheets, and examined souvenirs and artifacts from these countries as I prayed for them. It was a really unique opportunity to pray for believers in other parts of the world and learn about them at the same time.