Friday, June 15, 2012

A Year Abroad through My Eyes

A Year Abroad through My Eyes

This year long journey is about to come to an end

The feeling within you that doesn’t want to leave this new place you now call home, when arrival was the complete opposite, feeling nothing but isolation

At first always being dependant on a few certain people, and now not needing anyone to depend on at all

Going out and doing things for yourself that seemed impossible at first, became routine

From realizing all the differences from the language barrier to lifestyle, making us stronger and wiser

And everyday we grew, we matured and understood a lot of differences in culture that many people can not yet (and may never be able to) comprehend

Adjusting to this new lifestyle was the hardest part of this experience

Everything that you used to see as a negative  at first arrival, will change overtime, and soon be recognized as “normal” and “usual” and will become to what you now consider, a positive.

Days, weeks and months pass as you start to grow fond of where you are now, and start to appreciate everything that you have come across on this long journey

Everyday still feeling like a new experience but is becoming a normal routine

We’ve all had our ups and downs, but that's a normal part of daily life wherever you are

With every photograph, brings back a clear memory that will never be forgotten,
All the people we’ve become close with will forever remain in our hearts because they were there with us throughout this experience

All of this brings us back to reality

As I sit here writing this, I am thinking about all the good memories I’ve had, all the great people I’ve met, and looking back at those photographs remembering every single detail

People would tell me this feeling would come around,

Not wanting to leave, not wanting to say goodbye, that feeling deep inside your chest that just makes you want to stay.

We’ve made good memories, good friends, great bonds with our host families and a love for the city that we now live in

Saying goodbye to all of this may possibly be the second hardest part of this experience

Coming here was 100% gain in every aspect and no loss whatsoever

I couldn't have asked for anything more

This was the best experience of my life so far, and I honestly wouldn’t change a thing

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The final cut

It's over.
It's done.
It's coming to an end...
and I honestly don't know how to feel about it.

My year long journey in China has finally come to an end, I always thought about this day coming along but never actually believed it would come by so fast. A couple of months ago going back home seemed appealing...I mean it still is but it's different, this time I'm actually going home, train tickets and plane tickets all booked, It's set.

I think its crazy to think that I'll be leaving Nanjing tomorrow...saying goodbye to everyone will be so hard. In China we would say "舍不得你/ She bu de ni" when translated it means "Hate to be parted with you/hate to part with you" and that is really how I feel. 

I've made a lot of close friends and I've gotten really close with my host family these past couple of months...I feel like all of this came to an end so fast. There are so many things on my mind that have kept me up these past few nights. A lot about leaving people here, adjusting to my Hawaii lifestyle again, becoming reconnected with friends and family, reverse culture shock and a lot more...

I feel like being away from home and doing things on my own has made me very independant. Right now I am very used to doing things on my own, the way I live right now is probably how most college students or some adults live. This life is pretty good honestly, but I feel like going back home will also be different because it would be like adulthood lifestyle going back to a childhood lifestyle...which may be a hard transition but I'm sure going back will make me realize how much I can do on my own now, and I'll be able to see what I'm capable of doing.

I know it is time for me to go back, so that I have to accept. I am excited though, to see my family, my friends and my home.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nom nom nom!

A couple of weeks ago I went and visited my old host family, the Guan's. Even after I moved in with my new host family, I still kept in touch with my old. I usually called my old host mom and we both caught up on things that were going on in our lives at the moment. Things like "How have you been?/How's the new family?/are you adjusting well?". Going back to their home felt so natural....I went on the bus #33 that I always used to go on and when I entered the community, the security guards said "Wow! I haven't seen you in a very long time!!". It was funny that they remembered me ^_^ but I also told them that I had moved which is why they haven't seen me around.

Going back to the Guan's made me realize how things were when I first came to China. I started to feel different emotions and started thinking many thoughts, like: When I was here I felt like this/ I remember having a habbit of doing this...., you know? Things like that. It was at the Guan's house where I came to learn all the things about China, such as the new culture and lifestyle. Going back felt like my mind was being refreshed about how I felt at certain points of time within my first six months in China. The difference between the Guan and Lou family are that, moving in with the Guan's I moved in with no knowledge what so ever about Chinese culture so I had to adjust to it...therefore at that point in time I had no idea what to expect and most things came as a surprise to me, But after spending six months with them, when I moved into the Lou family everything felt normal because their lifestyle was the same with the Guan's lifestyle so adjusting to the second family seemed a lot more easier for me (only because I learnt everything that I needed to know first at the Guan's). 

I feel that my old host sister, Violet and I actually don't get along that well. I mean, yes we do get along but we never have things to talk about...I think the problem with that is because our interests and thoughts are different, as opposed to Shirley and I we are always talking about things and never run out of things to talk about because our interests and thoughts are the same.

The Guan family cooked many dishes for me that evening and it was all very good! This is probably the usual types of dishes that they serve for dinner, in addition to a bowl of rice! The difference when eating Chinese food and western food is quite diverse. In the U.S we usually either have our own plates and eat just from our own plates or eat family style, but in China it is usually served family style unless you go out to a small restuarant by yourself! In the U.S when meals are family-style, every dish has a serving spoon, and everyone has a plate to put their food on. In China, everyone just has one bowl of rice (no extra plate to put food on) and they don't put their food on a "serving plate" like we do, instead they just pick the food they want, bite by bite. At first, I thought this was quite strange and in a sense unsanitary because we would be using the chopsticks then also using them as our own serving spoons (kind of like double dipping!!). After a while I got used to it and it became a normal habbit to me. Another difference I noticed when eating food is that people here dont politely ask to "help put some food on their plate" or to "pass something over, please" instead, they just lean over, even if the dish they want is super far, they lean over and grab it. When I first came to China, at the Guan's we went out to a restaurant and then I politely asked my hostmother to pass over a dish when she said "Just lean over and get it by yourself!!" (In a nice tone of course!) but I was quite surprised when she said that...! are some of the dishes :)

Jiu Cai!


Meat and potatoes!

Egg and Tomato soup

onion and sausage

Catching up with the Guan family was very nice, I felt really comfortable in their house which is always a good thing. They also cooked a lot of dishes that night because I was coming over! Here are what some typical Chinese dishes look like! (Usually what most families have for dinner...In the South of China).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Insane and Away!

 It’s been a long time since I’ve last written a new post and I apologize to all of my readers out there! I have been up to a lot recently but I never find time to write…that is partially the reason why I haven’t posted and another is me just being lazy so today I have decided to start writing more frequently again.

It has almost been two months since I have been with my new host family (the Lou family) and it has been really great!! They are so nice and I feel at home already. The sad thing is now I only have around 2.5 months left in Nanjing and I don’t exactly feel like leaving anytime soon! Two months ago, I felt like I was ready to go back home…but now…I feel like Nanjing is also partially my home. Even to this day, going on the bus seems like a new routine even though I do it everyday…it never gets old. And that’s really how I feel about everywhere I go or everything I do. I think of everyday as a new but experienced, new experience…if that makes sense? (Take a second to think about it!)

My host sister Shirley and I get along really well. We both have the same interests and enjoy the same things. Every Friday night we usually have movie nights, and on the weekends we also go out shopping or to KTV (karaoke). I recently went shopping with her around Xin Jie Kou and also went to KTV with her and her friends which was nice J I realized that a lot of people in China absolutely LOVE “the backstreet boys” which is funny because that was like the “Justin Bieber” of my days when I was younger…plus their first debut was in 1996! They are no longer existent to most Americans, but in China they are still very popular and many people young and old know who they are!

2.5 more months is so short! It is going to pass by like nothing… ): Some parts of me wants to go home but a lot of me still wants to stay here in Nanjing because I feel like I have yet to explore new things here that I still haven’t seen.

Shirley and I around Xin Jie Kou! 
at KTV with my friends~

Shirley and I talking in my room with our amazing outfits! ...not! Many Chinese people wear these outfits in the winter
to keep warm. I didn't want one but my host family was very generous and bought it for me! Even though it isn't the most beautiful thing, it's really comfortable and keeps one very warm!
This weekend I’ll be going on a trip from the 31-4th to an area called Hangzhou and Wuyuan with my Italian friend, Giulia and her host parents who will take us there. Hangzhou is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang province in Eastern China. Hangzhou is known to be one of the most beautiful places to go to in China so I am very excited to go there! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What is this numbing feeling?

It's strange because this is yet another feeling that is hard to describe. In two days, I make the mark of being in China for six months. Wow...I've been in China for half a year now and I only have four more to go.

It's definitely hard because at this point, I somewhat feel ready to leave. There's a part of me saying "I'm done with living the China-life...let's hit the real world now" but then another part of me is saying "Hey now, this is a lifetime oppurtunity...four more months, it will pass by quicker than you think, enjoy it while you can".

A lot of this feeling has to do with missing people back home but then again because school life is quite uneventful and boring. At this point in time, it's like I am already used to China, nothing I see now seems as significant as it probably did three months ago. A lot of the things I noticed came to a shock at first, seeing all the negatives, then seeing them as positives...and then it's like this culture shock gets put back into reverse again because I've noticed that at the 6 month point, you start seeing some negatives again and start to compare with the things back home. It's not that I make a big deal out of it, more like...seeing the difference from China and the U.S. Though yeah...the feeling of home grows stronger as the days go on...

I'm also preparing to take the HSK which is a Chinese proficiency test (I will be taking it in about a month) so for now, I have a lot of things to do and to keep myself busy.

Have a nice day everyone! & I hope you guys had a wonderful Valentines Day :)


Saturday, February 4, 2012

A break from HK and back to the present

There’s a lot of new going on right now due to the change in my family. I was assigned two host families before coming to Nanjing so I knew what was coming my way.

These past five months have gone by so quick, it actually doesn’t feel as If I have been here for that long, its almost been half a year since I’ve been here!

I’m still on Chinese New Year’s holidays for two more days so I have some time to get adjusted to the new house and family before going off to school again. I will be attending the same school but its going to be a little hard getting used to a new bus route to and from school and also to other places that I often go to such as: Xin Jie Kou or Fu Zi Miao.

Packing my things to move into my new families house was quite the hassle because of the amount of things I had! When I came to China all I had was a big suitcase, a carry-on and a backpack. I ended up with my big suitcase, carry-on, backpack, two boxes, and about 7 bags...all filled with things that were bought in China (mostly things that I won’t bring back such as toiletries and books I use to study with). I guess I bought a lot of winter clothes here because in Hawaii none of that is necessary (also being from Hawaii means anything below 70F is considered chilly or “cold”).

I woke up at 8:30 AM on moving day to organize my last few things and get ready to leave because my new host-mother was picking me up at 10AM. When she finally came by to our house she rung the doorbell and my host-dad went to go pick her up from downstairs. When they got upstairs we all worked together in getting my things into the elevator, one person would be passing the bags down and another person putting the things into the elevator. I was quite overwhelmed with the amount of things I had! And already worrying about how many things I’ll have to get rid of when I go home to Hawaii.

When we got downstairs my head teacher, Ms. Yu was there also to help us bring my stuff into the car and to make sure that everything was ok. When we finally got everything in the car we were ready to leave and I thanked my prior host family for everything and we drove off. I was debating whether to give them a hug but since they are Chinese giving hugs isn’t really their culture…so I didn’t in the end (even though I really wanted to). They were really nice and said that I could come over anytime I want for a visit and to eat food and such! Of course I will go visit them again, but first I had to settle into the new house.

My new family lives on the 18th floor and their house is a little bigger than my other family but the apartment is older. The community is very small compared to the other…there are about five other apartments in this new community whereas in the other one, there were so many I couldn’t keep count of!

In my room, I had a normal queen sized bed! Which is uncommon in China because most people sleep on wooden beds without cushion because they believe that hard beds will give you a strong and healthier spine compared to a soft bed that will curve it. There wasn’t a lot of space to put my clothes but in the end I figured it out. There is also a long desk, more like a TV desk so its hard to study or do homework on because it is very low and there is no leg space but since I have been here a couple of days already I am used to it and I really like it!

Besides my nice room my family is so great! They are very welcoming and I already feel that I am part of their family. My host sister, Shirley and I get along very well because we have the same interests and opinions on certain things. The host mom and I also get along well, probably because I have spent the most time with her. That is because Shirley has been off at school and the mom stays at home so we spend time together and the host dad is off at work. It is a little hard to communicate with the host dad because he speaks a different dialect of Chinese (Hang Zhou, which is their hometown). I think I am adjusting really well to this new family and environment though. It’s just the location and bus routes that I need to get used to.

The other night, the family and I went out for a movie at a mall called “Wanda Plaza”. We watched “Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" Which was a really good movie and I had a good time with the family also!

At this point in time…I sort of feel ready to go home, but then I realize where I am right now…in a new families home, and it hits me every time that its going to be another new experience from here on out, and even though June is getting closer and closer, I know that I still have some time to spend with this new family and to enjoy my time and get to know them! Basically the way I feel right now is “So close but so far”. I guess its sort of a strange feeling to explain…

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Busy Busy BUSSYYYYY!!!!

Monday 23rd:
Chinese New Year’s lunch!

On Monday Tasha and I slept in until around 10:30 AM and we got up and got ready to head over to her Uncle’s house for a Chinese New Year’s lunch with a lot of members of her family on her mom’s side. We got ready and wore nice dresses and headed over to her Uncle’s house at around 12. I met a lot of her family and they were all so friendly! Tasha and I even had a talk with her Uncle about college and Psychology (as Tasha and I are both interested in this field). The family members also gave me more Lai See packets! It was exciting because this was the first time when I was actually given so many Lai See packets! The food was also good, a bunch of Chinese food! After the lunch was over we headed back to Tasha’s house and went to go buy some ingredients at the supermarket for some cheesecake! We got into our cooking mode by changing clothes and putting our hair up. Our cheesecake came out pretty well and since it is my favorite cake it tasted amazing! In mainland China, they don’t have any ovens…so you can’t bake cookies, brownies or cake! The rest of the day was laid back and we just ate, watched movies and ate some more…haha living a carefree day I suppose.

Making white chocolate blueberry cheescake! With the laptop for the recipe and some good music!

Making the crust

Tuesday 24th:
Time to hit Central (:

Today was time to shop! I spent most of my Lai See money in Central. Central is the business district of Hong Kong and is also the Western District. When in Central, it is guaranteed that you will bump into somebody you know, especially because many foreigners hang out in this area. Tasha and I took the “mini bus” to one of the big malls first, IFC. Going on the mini bus reminded me of old times and the bus route became familiar to me again. When we got to IFC we headed to Zara, ALDO, Steve Madden and an accessories store. After we finished up in IFC we went to get lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant. All of the restaurants that we went to while in HK were the ones that I wanted to go to because they know I can’t get a lot of this in Nanjing.
Inside IFC mall


There is always a big line in front of this Vietnamese restaurant and is very busy. When I used to live in HK this restaurant was very busy too! It’s good to see it still running well after four years. The food was very great! Since I missed the dish, “Pho” I was happy to be eating it again.  
Line into the restaurant! It got bigger after a while too...

After lunch we shopped around Central. We went to H&M, Marks & Spencers, Cotton On, Sasa and Maple.  These don’t seem like a lot of stores but we spent quite a lot time in each of them and by the time we finished it was time for dinner! We took the MTR (train) to a place called “Pacific Place” to have some Italian food! This place was quite busy also and tasted good too (: I was so happy I got to have two of my favorite types of food in one day: Vietnamese and Italian!

Marks & Spencers

H&M, Crocs

When we finally finished dinner it was also 10 PM so we took the MTR back to Central where we caught the mini bus back home.

The days are going by way too fast!