No, really, how did we get here?
I do not like amusement parks. I just don’t see the fun in being scared. Inspite of my efforts to explain this, my family took me to one. I vetoed a few rides, but then I felt guilty and like I was being no fun, so I agreed to go on one. I don’t go to amusement parks; how was I supposed to know it was one of the scariest rides there? As I sat 100 ft in the air, wondering when the ride was going to drop I could not help but wonder, “How did I get here?”
Written by: Abigail
Never turn your back to an aggressive animal. It’s a universal rule, we all know it. However, somehow in my excitement, I thought taking a video with the monkey might outweigh the dangers of disregarding this rule. We all saw the monkey coming from behind us, and when most backed away, I decided foolishly to try and get a “selfie” with it. The next thing I knew, I felt a hand gripping my shoulder, and my plastic water bottle was wrenched from my grasp. As the monkey scampered away, victory in haul, I was stuck reliving the feeling of its hand on my shoulder: it felt so much like a human’s hand. The monkey ended up dropping the water bottle, and yet this frightening encounter was worth the two yuan loss.
Written by: Mattie
Excuses Get You Nowhere
When my host family asked me if I wanted to go swimming, the tone assumed an affirmative response. The 13 year old standing in my doorway might as well have said, “We’re going swimming now”. After a quick attempt to convey “I have schoolwork to do” in a round of bilingual charades, I resorted to looking for other options. And by options, I really mean excuses. I settled on the obvious: I don’t have a bathing suit. This stopped her for a moment. As she turned out of my room and approached her mom, yelling incomprehensible words and phrases, I fought the temptation to follow her downstairs and right out the door. Standing in my temporary bedroom, surrounded by glittery purple dandelions and dolls, I felt conflict settle in. I could easily grab that Spence book and head to Starbucks. But, if this were one of the students, I would tell them to go and keep an open-mind. Maybe it will be fun. Who knows what this pool is like and what time I will be home. Before I had time to come to a conclusion, a flash of dark hair rushed through the door and dropped a collection of bright fabric on my bed. Bathing suits. Three of them. Judging by size, they could belong to anyone from the 6 year old girl in the house to my host-grandmother. I steeled myself for the relinquishing of control and settled for a conservative one-piece, complete with build-in skirt.
I didn’t want to go swimming. I wanted to check a few things off my to-do list, get caught up on e-mails home, and maybe even read a book outside the CHEX curriculum. I certainly didn’t want to put on a bathing suit that belongs to an old Chinese woman, one I can understand only when she is telling me to eat more or asking if I’m cold. Still, I gave up my preference for the chance to get to know my family better. Turns out, it wasn’t the worst way to spend an afternoon. I taught the whole gang how to play Marco Polo. I had some of the best conversations with my hosts while we were lounging in the hot tub later on. Every time you ‘say yes’ to an offer won’t be perfect -later on I ended up sitting on a couch with strangers for an hour and a half while the kids had piano lessons- but you’ll never know what you missed if you don’t give things a shot.
Written by: Ms. Stevens
I never thought I’d find myself on fourteen hour train. Certainly not with eight other nervous fidgety people, and four months of luggage. We had scrabbled aboard the train, pushing and shuffling our way to our compartment. The first fifteen minutes were spent in vain trying to jam our luggage underneath the beds and up on the shelves above the topmost bunks. There were three leveled bunks on each side of the compartment and most of our luggage ended up on the little floor space we had. Sinking into the dubiously stained bed, the only thing I could think was how did I get here? How did I get on this dirty, smoky, cramped train shuttling towards Xi’an? What possible life decisions could I have made that led me here? But sometimes you just have to laugh if off. Hysterical belly hurting laughing that squeezes tears out of your eyes, until you fall asleep. Because really, how did I get here?
Written by: Celia