Day Thirty-Seven – Saturday, July 29
Wow, I love my TAs! Most of my class spent the day with each other and our adorable TAs. They were literally the sweetest and just wanted to hang out with us and do whatever we wanted, which was super sweet!
When I woke up this morning, I looked at the cupping marks on my back. To my surprise, most of them had faded and were much less noticeable… except for the huge one on my left shoulder. This one unexpectedly darkened over night and was still extra sensitive to the touch. I purposely wore a dress with my hair down so that I could show off the marks to my friends easily but cover them when I was just out!
At my bus stop this morning, I happened to run into Malina. Malina is an Austrian university student who is involved in the same volunteer project as Lily (using 3D printing to help disabled people. She tagged along with us last night. We rode the bus together to BNUZ, where she was meeting up with Lily and I was meeting my TAs.
Our class was going out to 早茶 (morning tea = dim sum) with the TAs. At BNUZ, they were super interested in seeing how all our cupping marks turned out. Shuo Ning, our third TA who was sick yesterday, saw the marks for the first time and her face was clearly shocked/worried and she was kinda laughing at us. The three of them together are such good friends and it’s so funny watching their interactions! Everyone met at BNUZ around 10:45… except for Matthew. He accidentally got on the bus going the wrong way and ended up super far away from the school. We eventually decided to send him the location of the restaurant and have him meet us there. After a lot of confusion about buses and taxis (Matthew literally walked away from a bus stop because he got frustrated that all the taxis were full), Matthew finally arrived at the restaurant an hour late. Our TAs were so nervous for him – it was actually so precious!
Dim sum was so good! But most of all, it was just so fun chatting with each other and really getting to spend time with all our TAs together. Kaylie was cracking me and Sydney up because of how demanding and firm she was with the waiters. She thought the shrimp didn’t smell fresh and had the people take it back and bring another plate… which she also sent back. Shuo Ning and Zhu Zhu were both stunned and laughed at her. After we finished eating, we probably spent a good 30 minutes taking selfies with cute filters (filters are so popular in China!)
I feel really bad because our TAs insisted on treating us to the meal. They are honestly too sweet, and I wish we could have treated them. But they wouldn’t let us.
Next we took a bus to Gongbei to try and buy some more cheap goods. On the bus, Sydney and I had a deep conversation about the trip. I’ve realized that I’ve become much more outgoing on this trip; I think it’s because I feel more comfortable around these friends than I do with most of my friends back home. Because of how the program is structured, we all become so close to each other. It’s actually really surprising to me that I’ve opened up so much to these people, considering I just met them 6 weeks ago. I know I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime.
At Gongbei, I used my bargaining skills to buy a really cute little clutch purse. I went into the store alone (because I look like I could be Chinese and not a foreigner – lol) and got the shopkeeper to lower the price from 200 to 150 yuan. After I bought it, the storekeeper (clearly confused) asked if I was Chinese. I said I was an American student but my dad was Chinese (my go to response) and she was like “oh! You look like you are Chinese!” I cannot count how many times this exact conversation has gone down!
I got back home around 5pm. I went out to run a few errands with my mom and sister and then we went out to dinner because my mom doesn’t like to cook. We had amazing Chinese hamburgers and spicy beef noodles in soup. This was honestly one of the best meals of my time here. After dinner, Linda went to piano practice and my mom and I rode bikes by the water. It was a very pleasant night.
I want to honestly document my time here. I don’t think I’ve cried since I’ve been here, but tonight I broke down in tears after saying goodnight. I don’t want to leave; I’ve made so many lifelong friendships with my fellow students and Chinese teachers alike. After only seeing and talking to them for 6 weeks straight, I honestly cannot imagine life without seeing them everyday. Reverse culture shock is going to be so hard, and I won’t have my closest friends there to go through it with me…