For most people, going to China is an opportunity that only comes once-in-a-lifetime. Not for me. I was born in China, raised in China for the first 5 years of my life and go back to China every 2 years to see family. As a result, the trip I took during the summer of ‘10 was very much like the other times yet also very different.
We arrived at night and since it would take around 5 hours to drive to my grandparents’ house from the airport, we decided to get a hotel for the night. The hotel we stayed in was called the Lily Hotel and it was near the West Lake. The West Lake had tons of lilypads and the whole place was beautiful and calming. In the morning, we headed over to Zhuji, a city located south of Hangzhou—the capital of Zhejiang province. Zhuji is small and therefore, not much of a tourist site but it is a great place to go if you want to see real China. We also spent some time at Fuchunjiang. Fuchunjiang is a small town in Tonglu county, also in Zhejiang. Compared to Zhuji, I felt that Fuchunjiang had more of a city feel. We went into the city at night and hung out around there. Lights were everywhere and everything was so festive.
When I go back, I mostly hang around with my cousins but during this past visit, I didn’t get to spend many days with them. Why? Simply because they’re studying for the most important test of their lives, the Gaokao. Similar to the SAT, the Gaokao is a college entrance exam. If you get a good grade, you’ll enter a good college, get a good job and all that studying would’ve paid off. If you don’t get a good grade…let’s just say, you don’t want to NOT get a good grade. Gaokao is administered the same time every year for seniors. It is 2 or 3 days of nothing but tests. All your subjects get tested in those 2 or 3 days. There is no picking and choosing which subjects you want to get tested on. After hearing this, I realized the SAT doesn’t seem so bad anymore.
During my stay there, I also found that China has something similar to Facebook: QQ. You can find people who share the same interests as you and chat with them. With my cousins hardly around, I spent most of my time chatting with other people. I set my location as Boston because that’s where I’m from. I noticed one person who was also from Boston and I decided to chat; mainly because I was dying to speak to another person who also spoke fluent English. After a few minutes of chatting, I found that he was actually from China. I asked him why he set his location to Boston if he wasn’t even from there. He told me that he loved the Celtics and that it was his dream to come to Boston. I was mind-blown. My dream is to go to a good college, get a good job, and own a million dollar house. His was to simply come to the place that I called home.
People say you learn something new every day. During the course of the trip, I learned one very important lesson about life. Whether it’s a test that isn’t so bad in reality, or a hometown that you take for granted, be happy about what you have.
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