Travel Journal #7 – Bring Extra Socks

I had a list of things I expected to happen to me once I arrived in China:
1) learn Chinese (obviously!),
2) feel fabulously wealthy because things in China are cheaper, and
3) join a blues band that moonlights as a left-wing political group and romps around China doo-whopping and handing out petitions.
Notice there is no mention of going to class in a typhoon. Yes, instead of doo-whopping around China, I splashed my way to class today.
walking in puddlesWhen I looked outside of my window this morning, rain or xia yue (pronounced sha-yoo) was all that I could see. Long gone was the stunning sunrise of Inner Mongolia [photo above]. This week I’ve seen more rain than I ever thought I would in my life. Wading through the river that used to be a road on my way to class was like wading through an overflowing kiddie pool, except murkier and more disgusting. The water at its deepest point reached the middle of my calves [photo right]. When I finally got to class, my socks were soaked and everyone, including our professor, had their shoes off. It was quite a (gross) sight.
As if the typhoon wasn’t enough bad luck, Chinese class, particularly speaking in class, is another storm. Our professor, He Laoshi (Huh La-ow-sherr), is great and loves to hear us speak in class. However, as soon as I open my mouth, everything I’ve learned this past month completely leaves my mind. I usually mumble something, which he promptly corrects before moving on to the next unsuspecting victim. He’s like the human incarnation of the typhoon; he descends upon you unannounced and usually brings with him all sorts of rain in the form of grammar and pronunciation. The only “umbrella” available is studying; and that’s pretty holey because you can’t possibly study everything. So there you are in class hoping not to get rained on, even though you know it’s unavoidable. And the way it’s been going lately, I’d gladly trudge through an actual typhoon everyday if it meant that I could put together a whole paragraph in Chinese.
Needless to say, China has certainly thrown me some curves balls in the month that I’ve been here. I wish I could say that I handled all of them with grace, but I have to admit that I’ve fallen in a puddle or two. China is like a tropical storm—vast, unpredictable, and mutable. I can never predict exactly where or when it will strike. Sometimes my confidence will take a huge hit and sometimes the damage is very minimal. But I think what’s important is that even after the storm has knocked me over, I keep getting back up. I may be soaked to the bone and more than a little embarrassed, but at least I’m standing—and that’s a start.
Plus, next time there’s a typhoon I’ll remember to wear my rain boots and definitely bring extra socks.
by Morgan Whitehead ’15, currently participating in the Centre-in-China study abroad program. Learn more about study abroad in China.

By |2013-10-25T14:31:55+00:00October 25th, 2013|News, Study Abroad, Travel Journals - China|