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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

Jia Niemeyer’s trip to China has significantly impacted her future and her relationships

Jia Niemeyer
Senior Jia Niemeyer admiring the Great Wall of China

From the baby age of two years old, senior Jia Niemeyer—instead of being in the care of a loving, devoted family—spent the most important developmental years of her life in a Chinese orphanage.

Beginning at the time she was adopted, however, she has made an effort to separate herself from her past and form the person she’s always wanted to be. In the recent fall season, Jia set off on a trip to China to spend time in the city she grew up in and finally submerged herself in the culture, unintentionally undergoing some personal maturation along the way.

“Going back, there was a way for me to kind of reconnect with my past,” Jia said, “but also to see the culture and what it would be like if I lived there. I got to go to the orphanage where I grew up. I got to go to the city I was born in and where I was left, but I also got to travel throughout China to see the Great Wall of China, Shanghai Tower, and the Forbidden Palace.”

Even though she has yet to visit many dream destinations, Jia remains determined to incorporate traveling as a key aspect of her life. Florida has always been a given journey considering it’s where her sister lives—and various other states have been checked off her bucket list—but as for foreign countries, she’s set foot in only two besides the United States: Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. With this, China still stands as her favorite so far.

The history and culture of China piqued Jia’s interest, but the aspect that stood out the most was the food. Trying new food, she found, has significantly increased her appreciation for different lifestyles. 

“I think seeing the difference between what we think Chinese cuisine is and what it actually is was really interesting,” Jia said. “There’s definitely subtle differences: it’s a little bit less sweet, and there’s more vegetable types. We cook with the same five vegetables, and they incorporate a lot more than that.”

This trip, unlike her frequent family journeys to Florida, was a particular bonding experience just between Jia and her dad. Both enjoy certain aspects of travel, and their shared passions created an unforgettable memory to bond over. 

Not only did China play a significant role in her relationship with her dad, but it also was the source of great leaps forward for her personally. The question of what to major in during college was answered by her time spent in China.

You can only gather so much understanding of the culture in a country, everything it entails, on a two-week stay. Being there, living there, immersing yourself into the culture is a whole different experience.

— Jia Niemeyer

“I’m going to High Point [University] for graphic design and a minor in fashion merchandising to hopefully become a product designer,” Jia said. “I was struggling with what major to choose and what I wanted to do, but China actually solidified those thoughts because when you go to a different country, you see the same products, but in a different style. That was really interesting for me to see.”

Her biggest influence was glasses. She realized early on that regular glasses in America never seemed to fit due to her flatter nose bridge, but her visit to China revealed that they were built differently to cater to the majority of the population.

The idea of product inclusivity had a huge influence on how Jia’s going about her future. Not only did it impact her career choice, but the rest of her trip was so profound that she already yearned to go back and truly involve herself in a different way of life.

“I think my plan right now is to actually do a six-month stay there,” Jia said. “An extended period of time living there would be really cool just because you can only gather so much understanding of the culture in a country, everything it entails, on a two-week stay. Being there, living there, immersing yourself into the culture is a whole different experience, and I’d love to have that.”

She is adamant about the idea of traveling as a learning experience. Not only should exploration of another country be enjoyable, but absorbed in a way that reshapes her life from the appreciation of ethnic diversity. Things may not have always gone to plan with her travels, but she emphasizes the importance of flexibility with the hopes of encouraging others in the life-changing approach she has to explore the world.

“Be open-minded and go with the flow,” Jia said. “I think a lot of times people, when they travel, want to go to a place you could visit closer to home. So if you go to Europe and just stay in a resort, you’re not immersing yourself into the culture, and you’re not willing to try new things. Being open to plans changing and not having something super structured will leave a lot of doors open.”

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About the Contributor
Rowan Szpieg
Rowan Szpieg, Staff Writer
Rowan is entering her first year on The Central Trend as a junior writer. Her love of writing developed in recent years through expressive poetry. Although it is a hobby that assumes a bit of her time already, when she's not sitting back with a new writing piece on her computer, you can find her playing her guitar. Any spare time she has that's not occupied with family or friends is spent learning to play new songs. She also loves to spend her nights under the stars around a bonfire in the summer and laughing too much playing board games in the winter. Rowan is always up for a movie night as a way to share her interest in film. When she's not watching a movie, she has Friends playing in the background on every occasion.   Comfort movie: The Proposal Favorite time of the year: When Christmas music starts to play Favorite book: Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom Favorite song to play on guitar: Don't Think Twice, It's All Right by Bob Dylan Has she shortened her watchlist of movies? Not at all! It's still over 300

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