The First in a Summer Postcard Series, Caitlin Bailey ’16 Writes from Beijing
Today we kick off a Summer Postcard series featuring letters from students. Caitlin Bailey ’16 is an Albright Fellow who is spending the summer in Beijing as part of an Elisabeth Luce Moore '24 Internship in Asia through Wellesley's Center for Work and Service.
Caitlin here. Remember that bright-eyed sophomore you sent off to Beijing, China, in the fall of 2014? The same one (almost) you welcomed back five months later, a bit more worldly than when she left you?
Well, I’ve hit the streets of Beijing once more, this time as an Albright Fellow on a 10-week summer internship. I’m writing to tell you that Beijing is just like I remembered it: alive and busy. How strange to think that there are two entirely new subway lines since my last visit! This city never sleeps.
I am living with two Wellesley siblings: an economics/math double major, and a history major. Combined with me—East Asian studies—we are quite the motley crew. But isn’t that what you pride yourself on, Wellesley? Bringing together the disciplines to allow for the creation of organic, sustainable solutions to the world’s greatest problems? Maybe we will develop our own world-changing ideas this summer, right here in our apartment.
Ah, yes, our apartment. It looks out from the 13th floor of a huge complex over the vast eastern districts of Beijing. And it’s a 30-second walk from the subway. I'm in love with the entire situation.
I also love my internship, which has brought me to the forefront of creativity. In other words, I’m having SO MUCH FUN! I'm working for an expatriate magazine called City Weekend. (Although, “work” is an overblown term.) So far I've been sent out on a number of reconnaissance missions all over Beijing to find newly opened shops and restaurants. With the casual demeanor of a spy and the steady hand of a critic, I descend upon the unsuspecting establishments and … generally write very nice things.
Last weekend, I visited a burgeoning Tibetan yogurt shop where I enjoyed free yogurt and wonderful company, while learning more about Tibet than I ever dreamed I would know. During those simple moments, Wellesley, I realized how well you have prepared me to be a student of the world. I may not know which “whats” or “whoms” I happen upon now will become significant to my future, but all are worth learning from. The ability to pause and derive pleasure from learning is a gift you have shared with me.
One individual I have gained immeasurable knowledge from is Xiaoxiao, my roommate from my semester abroad. We were delighted to reunite in Beijing, if only for a brief dinner before she returned home to Kunming, China, for the summer. A recent graduate of a Beijing university, Xiaoxiao is fearless and inquisitive. I admire her.
But I digress. I know you are looking for the one-two punch, Wellesley, the thesis statement that answers your impatient question: “How is your experience traveling halfway across the world to work for a magazine going, so far?!”
My answer: I’m still in the research stages, but it began like a mouthful of Tibetan yogurt: sweet, strong, and sustaining. The tang of missed loved ones mixes with the thrill of adventure to create something authentic that one can only understand by tasting it herself.
You’re in my heart, Wellesley.
Caitlin Bailey is an East Asian Studies major and Economics minor who is interested in pursuing research related to the commercial and economic relationship between the U.S. and China. On campus, Caitlin is a blogger for the Wellesley Admissions Office. She is also a two-season Varsity Track and Field athlete. Her goal after graduation is to work in an international business setting.