Shizajuang (‘the Shiz’ for short) quickly transformed from hell to the high life after spending the night with my host family. I was nervous for the homestay – add to it my inability to utter much of anything in Mandarin – and I was almost nauseous.
It ended up being the most amazing time. My family was so generous, and I know have a sister in Shizajuang! Angela is a 16 year old girl at one of the most prestigious foreign language schools in the Shiz. She spoke perfect English and was a typical teenager with a penchant for pop music (we bonded over Lady Gaga and Rhianna) and a love of ballet. She wants to be an architect, a perfect career, as they are tossing up buildings in China faster than the Department of Transportation can fill potholes on the highway.
Their home was beautiful and modern, something you could pull out of Dwell magazine. Angela’s mother was an amazing cook, putting the most delicious breakfast on my plate, the perfect treat after catching up on sleep I’d been missing since my arrival in China. I wish I had more to offer them as thanks for their hospitality and know I will see them again in the future, whether in China or abroad.
The homestay was a good follow up to 6 hours of Chinese Language classes. 6 hours was barely enough time for me to figure out how to say “my name is abbie, I am American” (easy and obvious, right?) so it was a treat that Angela and her friends all spoke fluent English.
It had to be good luck, or careful organization, that C and I ended up having girls who were friends. We met at the mall with a gaggle of 5 Chinese girls (and one boy) accompanied by 2 other Drake students. After a bit of shopping it was off to eat.
It was SO GOOD, my mouth still waters thinking of the meal. Mountains of food poured on to our table (imagine the biggest meal you’ve ever had, multiply it by 10 and that’s roughly equivalent to the amount of food that flew out of the kitchen and on to our lazy susan.) We were truly eating like kings. I shudder to think of what the bill was.
After shoving our faces full of food (honestly, the best meal I’ve ever eaten) we paroosed the city. I fell in love with the city watching old people in the park dancing, live music pouring from speakers, crisp greenery and bright lights of city’s infrastructure. At that moment I knew I had survived the homestay and found a soft spot in my heart for The Shiz.