By Siqi Wang for The Daily Iowan 
This winter break, I was able to change some of my original opinions about the United States through a month of traveling. I had the chance to visit many places on the East Coast and spend time with my friends.
First, Christmas was not what I imagined. I found there was almost no one on the streets, and it was even difficult to find an open restaurant, bar, or anywhere to stay during the night. This is different from what most Chinese people have thought about Christmas — most Chinese spend Christmas day out with friends on the streets. During my experience, I realized Christmas is a family day for Americans to stay together, while it is a day for Chinese to relax and hang out with friends.
Second, most of my Chinese friends and I have the wrong opinion about the city of Washington, D.C. Originally, we thought Washington was a only full of politics and law because we traveled around Capitol Hill, the White House, and many museums. But as I spent most of my time there this winter break, my friends and I gradually found out Washington has everything people want — European-style Old Town, Friendship Heights shopping center, and tons of international restaurants and bars. Now, my Chinese friends have changed their opinion about this city, and it has become my favorite U.S. city. I would even like to spend the rest of my life there.
Last but not least, this break allowed me to have a new outlook on my life. Originally, I thought I was more likely to be a student because I have become accustomed to the simple style of living and learning new things. I even imagined I could become a Ph.D. student and major in Asian studies or international affairs. But as I traveled to different cities on the East Coast and talked with my Chinese friends, I gradually found out I am more willing to start working after graduation rather than going directly to graduate school. Many of my Chinese friends are working and starting families. So at this point, I want to work a 9 to 5 job and experience a new life after graduation.