Ten Months Training from Aug of 2015 to May 2016.
Cerelia Lee Maskarinec (USA)
I chose to study in China after doing several years of martial arts back home, including Shaolin, Bagua, Xingyi,Taiji, Kendo. I wanted to be able to study in a more intensive environment, and achieve my dream of going to China to learn. I was motivated by a desire to improved myself and gain a higher understanding of Chinese martial arts, as well as a dream to live abroad and to improve my mandarin after studying the language for a couple of years prior.
I think my greatest gain has been a mental one, because of different beginning of training when I arrived. This was the first time I had travelled out of the United States for more than a couple of weeks, and there was definitely an adjustment period. Despite the training difficulties, I learned to work through discomfort in a way I had not had to before at home. I also began to try to overcome my chronic knee issues, and my pain tolerance has definitely increased.
I also felt that I gained a lot from optional classes, and from living here and experiencing a different culture from my own. Being able to go out to Muping and Yantai and interact with people was really a great opportunity, not to mention the international community here in the school.
I feel very lucky to have the privilege of studying with several shifus, especially Master Gao, who has been very influential to me. He always pushes students to do their best and to overcome their limitations, and I am fortunate to have experienced his teachings. The translators her are very helpful, and I am happy they were willing to answer all my questions and help with anything. The atmosphere of school changed my perspective as well, and I feel much more open to trying new things.
I arrived in the fall of 2015, and after a few difficult weeks I began to find a rhythm. Translators and friends at school were quick to help and to assist with anything, including forms and everyday things. The training remained very intensive, but I enjoyed it and learnt to move past mental blocks. The masters were all very friendly, but also not afraid to push their students. After nearly eight months, I can look back and remember a lot of different classes, events, performances, and good times with fellow students. I am grateful to have learned so much, and to have met so many amazing people.
The surroundings of the academy are very beautiful, and especially in Spring and Fall the view from the nearby temple is picturesque. The air quality is very good, especially compared to cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The mountains and lakes in the area provided for a great natural setting, and the farming community creates a very nice atmosphere. Muping and Yantai city make for fun excursion to see a bit more the area, and it is always interesting to see the daily life in different cities. The proximity to the ocean is also a nice feature, and it is difficult to feel isolated if you can travel around the ocean a bit.