Many people have called me brave for going to the middle of China essentially alone for two months. A lot of people ask me (sometimes more than once, as if expecting my answer to change) if I'm anxious/nervous/etc. Not really, I may feel excitement but nothing so negative as those other feelings.
And I also have to disagree with the people that call me brave. What I am doing doesn't require a lot of courage. At least, not for me.
I'm used to being in an environment where I don't know any one person. Growing up, I went to two elementary schools, four middle schools and two high schools. So the idea of (temporary) alienation doesn't scare me. (Besides, at least ten other people will be in the same boat and that will give us some common ground. A luxury not usually found when transferring schools half way through the year.)
As for being so far away from family/friends, I was the kid who begged her parents to send her to an overnight camp. I was the young woman who woke up the day she move would move to college and have the car packed before her family members even got out of bed. I've never experienced true homesickness. Maybe a little bit of nostalgia or a fleeting moment of wishing, but then I revel in my independence and freedom and rarely look back.
The only thing that I would agree is disconcerting is the culture that I am immersing myself in. Having only spent less than a week on the other side of the world, I can say for certain that it is VERY different in the U.S. And yet...
I'm not entirely shocked. (True enough I've only experienced two major cities that can be very tourist friendly and have yet to experience TRUE China.) I came expecting the worst. And while some things HAVE shocked me (i.e. - toilets in the ground and bare ass babies), it is nothing that other people have not warned me about.
So... no I'm not brave. In fact, I've always found people who can stay in one place, live with the same people for years and years who know them to a fault brave. It's very difficult to imagine someone knowing enough about me that they can pick me a part. In fact, to me such a relationship leaves one vulnerable to the point where it's scary.
I've rarely been positively rewarded in such a relationship (the exception being one or two current best friends), so to me it takes a very strong and brave person to open themselves up to people like that.
In comparison, being some place where you can be whoever you want to be in a strange but exciting and interesting culture where you're encouraged to learn and experience new things? That's easy.