Back in the winter I (jokingly) asked my mom if I could go to China for spring break. My friends had invited me to go to Florida or Puerto Rico with them, but I didn’t really want to go to either. My mom, to my surprise, said I should be able to. My dad also said that I should go visit my grandma because she’s almost 87 and I haven’t seen her in 8 years. So it was settled, I would go to Shenzhen to visit family for spring break!
I often find myself remembering how lucky I am to be studying Chinese as a Chinese American. Because of this, I got to go to China during spring break! In Shenzhen I stayed with my uncle for two weeks, and since it’s just a hour-long boat ride to Zhuhai, I went to visit my host family, teachers, and language partners.
When I got to Zhuhai the city felt different. Present-me thought the weather was extremely hot, something Zhuhai-me would have laughed at. While my uncle and I were walking to my old host home I saw that there was a brand new hotel, right outside my old apartment compound. During the months I was gone, an entire hotel was built! That’s crazy. My host mom’s cooking is still absolutely delicious, and I would eat lunch with my teachers and language partners the next day. My host dad was still a police, but now my host mom had a job. My host sister, Starry, was insanely busy with schoolwork as she’s taking the GaoKao next year, but we still got to hang out. I missed them all so terribly, so being in their home was like a dream. It almost felt the same, but there was still a nine month gap between when I last saw them and now.
For lunch the next day I went to BNUZ to meet with my teachers and language partners. Everything looked the same, but the odd feeling that I felt in my host home followed me. I guess the continuation of everything, after I left, felt strange; now I was practically a tourist, rather than a student. And even though the city will always be a part of me, things would still feel different than they used to. I went to my old classroom and watched the lesson from the window for awhile. The teacher saw me which was a little embarrassing, and it was time for lunch, so I left.
While we were chatting I learned that both my teachers and Henry’s language partner had graduated! Next fall they will be in graduate school in England, teaching in Shenzhen, and in graduate school in China. Since they had already graduated, they rode trains into Zhuhai to have lunch, and had to leave at 2. We all got Comebuy, a popular bubble tea chain that has a store on campus. Me, Henry, and Paige used to go there every chance we got. As we said our goodbyes, Comebuy in hand, it almost felt like the summer again.
Here is a video Alisa made from her summer program in Zhuhai:
Alisa was a participant on the 2016 NSLI-Y Chinese Summer program in Zhuhai, China. She is currently a NSLI-Y Alumni Representative and will be participating in the NSLI-Y Chinese Academic Year program in Kaohsiung, Taiwan this year.