…was definitely today. Why? I saw boxes of oranges. BOXES. OH MY GOD, ALL I WANT IN LIFE ARE ORANGES. I KID YOU NOT. If you have me on Facebook, you will have noticed that twice I got super excited when my host mother bought me USA oranges. They are the essence of my life.
In case you didn’t already know, I’m a Floridian. I grew up in a city that grew oranges. Later on, my family grew orange trees in our back yard. Safe to say that I constantly had access to them. Oranges were ALWAYS on my shopping list whenever I went grocery shopping while at OSU. ALWAYS. Sometimes I got so many that I would have issues fitting the rest of my food in my side of the fridge. Yes, I am slightly obsessed with them. I know. They’re just THAT good to me.
I remember surviving freshman year at OSU thanks to them. That year was my VERY first actual winter. What do I mean by that? That means temperatures below the 30s and with your leg knee deep in snow. Florida sheltered me from actual winters up until that year. So, since I was not accustomed to those conditions, I hated trekking to our dining halls at OSU for food. Thankfully, my family had sent me a box full of oranges. That is how I survived my very first actual winter. ORANGES.
I’ve seen oranges here in China. They’re different though. They’re green and don’t taste the same. They’ll have to do because no way am I going to be able to afford oranges like the ones I saw today. That box I saw today was 330¥! I’d go broke if I let my heart take over. Actually the entirety of me desires oranges. Thankfully there was a little bit of rationale left in me today.
…leave Chengdu that is! So as many know, all Peace Corps China trainees train in Chengdu for PST. So now that I have been placed at Chengdu University that means Chengdu is my home for the next two years. Two entire years. It hit me today as I said it aloud in my very first class of the semester. Chengdu will be the new “Columbus” which in turn replaced “Crescent City.” This is the city I will come to call home. The city I will long for when I, hopefully, leave Chengdu.
Unfortunately, we are not allowed to leave our site for 3 months. All I have been wanting up until now, since I’ve had a lot of free days, is to rush to my fellow PCVs in Guizhou, Chongqing, and Gansu. I miss them. I blame Peggy. Damn that woman! Just kidding, I love her to death. Unlike back home in the States, I have now become what Peggy refers to as a “cuddler.” I was never a hug person in the States. It was just not something I was accustomed to. Now it’s all I crave for. 10 weeks of hugs and then the sudden absence makes you yearn for what you no longer have.
What’s the fix? What did I do last time I found myself living on my own for a while? I got a kitten! AHA! I’ll just have to get a kitty or a puppy! Oh wait, PC doesn’t want us getting pets… Damn, there goes that plan… I can live on my own just fine but I love coming home to a cat or dog child. I was told to get a fish or turtle. YOU CAN’T CUDDLE WITH THOSE! We shall see how we fix this.
I’ve always been a person that likes to travel. I think that’s what has made this so difficult thus far. Knowing that for a while I cannot leave Chengdu for one of the other provinces. I’m allowed weekend travel but that limits me to cities near Chengdu. Which isn’t all that bad but I want to leave Sichuan. Sichuan, you’re cool and all but I need to know I’m on a long journey. I like the adventure. I’ll just have to find adventure here in Sichuan while these 3 months go by.
That then leads to where shall I travel to first once I’m allowed to leave for a good extended period of time. My friends and I are anxious to travel together already. Gotta start planning! Ahhhh, I can’t wait!!! Next entry I guess I’ll write about my first week of classes. I guess…
Already I’m struggling here in China. Might be overreacting. Actually, probably am. So, I got stuck with a business correspondence class. I know nothing on the subject but maybe resumes. Heck, I never even did a cover letter. I’ve been freaking out over the past few days on organizing my syllabus for this class. I blame the me that likes to have everything set well in advance. I tried working on it most of today. Then I decided to take a break and FaceTime the wonderful people I left back in the States. Good and necessary break. I shall continue freaking out about this class on Monday. Wait, let me pencil it in my calendar. Okay, done.
S/N: I’ve been sick for more than 2 weeks now. Never once in the States was I sick this long. Welp, something I can add to my China experiences.
I have less than 10 days till I start teaching. I need to organize my syllabi for my classes and start lesson planning but I can’t. Why? 멘붕. That is why.
On August 28th, our group known as the “China 20s” officially became Peace Corps volunteers. We had 10 weeks of training all to get us ready for this one day. Well, that and the next 2 years following.
What was that day like? It all went by too fast. WAY TOO FAST. I was up by 6:30am like usual. However, this time a lot more anxious. I knew this day would go by too quickly. Why’s that bad? We would have to say goodbye to everyone as they head out for their respective sites. Did not want to do that. I was not ready to. Still am not.
Anyways, back to what happened that day. I went down for breakfast looking like a bum. After breakfast, we all had to get ready and be downstairs by 10:15am. As soon as we were all calmed down, we sworn in as volunteers. Yup, that quickly. We had our official group 20 picture taken and then we all ran around taking pictures before they scurried us off to the next part of the agenda. After our little picture session, we were sent to another room for the rest of the ceremony. A couple of speeches were given by our country director, the Chargé d’Affaires, a Chinese school official, and two of our own China 20s’ volunteers. After speeches and the performance, we had lunch. Lunch that I didn’t get to enjoy cause my coughing attack came back. Hey, at least it was calm during the speeches.
Once lunch was over my waiban came over and told me to tell my goodbyes so we could then gather my stuff and leave for my site. I didn’t want to leave so quickly. I even told my friends that I wish I could’ve ate food just to have an excuse to stay longer. Got in a couple goodbyes and pictures before having to leave though. I almost cried then. Almost. One of my best friends here, Peggy, was sitting at the honored guests table since she was one of the volunteer speakers. I was saying goodbye and could feel the tears coming. However, our country director then said, “Aww and so it begins; the goodbyes.” Uh. Waterworks stopped. Not about to cry in front of our country director.
So after I left, I went to my room, got my stuff, said more goodbyes, went downstairs, more goodbyes, and then got into my waiban’s car. It was a quiet ride to my site. Quick and quiet. All I could think about during the car ride was how much I wanted to go straight back to the hotel. I wasn’t ready to leave then and still in denial now.
We carried my stuff up 5 flights of stairs. I met my site mate and talked a bit. Got a few texts from friends at the hotel asking where I was and how I should head back to the hotel. So what did I do? I WENT BACK.
Unfortunately, I did not make it back in time to say one more goodbye to my lovely Peggy. I did manage to say more goodbyes to many other PCVs. However, most of these PCVs would not have the same opportunity to come back to the hotel because they were all headed for trains. After all the people that were meant to leave that day left, I ended up eating dinner with the Gansu province people because they weren’t leaving till the next day.
I stayed the night and then the next morning was another dread. Dread because I knew to expect more and final goodbyes. The last ones I would be able to do before I ran out of fellow PCVs as they each left one by one. In a way, I only came back to torture myself. Goodbyes have never been my thing. I remember crying at the Columbus airport when my friends saw me off. Then I cried once again on Friday as I said more goodbyes. I got too close and attached to these former “randos” I had just met 10 weeks ago. I stayed until 5pm. That is how much I didn’t want to be separated from my fellow PCVs. I wanted to stay with them for as long as possible. That’s why I went back to the hotel. I wasn’t ready for that first night alone in my new apartment. However, here I am now. Facing it because I can’t go running back to the hotel. There are no more PCVs left there. I miss these people so much already. I’ll be counting down the days until we’re reunited for IST because seeing their faces again will be the best thing evah.
We finally did it; we, the China 20 are now officially Peace Corps
For anyone having a mental breakdown, here’s an analogy that helped me a bit:
Remember our first day of college? This is kinda like that. We packed your bags, hugged our friends and stepped onto campus to begin a…
I have one wish right now. ONE. What is it you ask? A PLATE OF NICE LEGIT TACOS! I’m tired of noodles, rice, and the so called Sichuan spice. No, really! I notice how lucky we have it in the US. If you want something different you can just go to a restaurant and get it. Here, however, anything not Chinese is going to cost you an arm and a leg. Dear US, you have spoiled me to the core. I blame you. Tacos. That’s all I want nowadays. Some nice, warm homemade tortillas with some carne on top. Not to forget, tons of cilantro and salsa! Oh but which!? Salsa verde, guacamole, salsa roja, or salsa frita? I could make tacos for days right now and not complain. I remember when I hated making tortillas by hand. Now I would welcome it more than anything. The Mexican in me is slowly dying. It needs tortillas. Nice and warm handmade tortillas. I can only hope I find the mix here but I’m pretty sure that’ll be close to impossible… Wait, can I fly home just for some tacos???
I have uneasy feelings randomly. Rarely though. However, when they do pop up the first thing I seem to do is relate it to home. Which, in turn, makes me panic. Only once I hear from home do I feel at ease. I’ve dealt with it before while I was in college. But in those instances I was always in the same time zone as my family and it was easy to just call home and do a quick check. Unfortunately, the 12 hour time difference just makes things a bit more complicated…
So much has happened since I last wrote on here. Like, actually taking the time to write something. I got my site placement: Chengdu!!! Not as exciting as where my dreams had me going: Gansu. That’s right. I had not one, not two, but THREE dreams that had me in Gansu. So finding out I was staying in Sichuan was not exciting. But “que sera, sera”, right? I’ve come to accept it more or less now. Monday I’ll be starting my site visit. Guess what??? Unlike most people, my university is coming to pick me up at Sichuan University!!! No taking buses or trains! Then again I was actually looking forward to a 22 hour train ride… I’m not ready for the permanent separation…NOOOOO! I’ll miss my fellow PCVs too much!
Onto the next bit!
So, yesterday I went with my host mom and sister to my host sister’s painting lesson. Before that I had made plans with a friend to go out before he had to leave for his site visit to Gansu. As usual, this certain someone isn’t the best when planning stuff…but love the outcomes nonetheless. Anyways, my host family knew and gave him a 6pm deadline. Come 6pm my host mom, host sis, and I all went to her painting lesson. Which, by the way, are held by her grand uncle. I told them I like to paint and I they saw a small quick piece I did during a PC activity day. I got to choose what I wanted to do and my host sister just attempted to do the same. Well, long story short, my host grand uncle told my host sister to be more like me. I kept getting compliments on my painting and how I was actually really good at painting. My host sister was “sad” that I was so much better than her. I told her I had been drawing since elementary school. No formal lessons or anything. Just your usual art classes as you go through school. Thing is, I am naturally artistic. That, I don’t think they grasped. I’ve never been one to flaunt my artistic skills. Mainly cause what I can do best is copy other artists’ work. I, personally, don’t think that makes me an artist. I would only call myself an artist once I do works of my own. That hasn’t happened yet though. For a couple reasons: 1. I’m impatient when it comes to art. I lose interest to say the least. I compare myself to Leonardo in this sense. Fortunately, my art teacher in high school was so in love with me I often got away with not finishing stuff… 2. I can draw/paint but I’m not necessarily deeply in love with the notion of painting for days. Anyways, I’ll be going back Saturday to finish my unfinished work. Didn’t finish it because I ended up meeting with my friend after all. Before my host family dropped me off at the arranged meting place, they told me that I had to be home before 11. Never have I ever had a curfew before. NEVER. So this getting home before a certain time has definitely been testing my obedience for getting back on time. Once you’re out you don’t want to leave at 11. That’s too early! Anyways, we went to a bar we had been introduced to but not actually gone into. We ran into two locals that my friend had met just the night before. Turns out one was a saxophone player while the other plays the piano. We spent the entire night playing Chinese drinking games. We were asked to introduce an American drinking game. We failed at coming up with any… But I swear, Chinese people seem to have the most simplest drinking games ever. Best thing of the night, though, free beer. All thanks to us running into these “we just met you last night” friends. Definitely one of the best ways we could’ve ended out free time before site visits.