Summer is OVAH. At least here. For most college students at least in Guiyang, classes started in the middle of August! Foreigner bonus, whoop whoop! I've only just finished my first week of classes and tomorrow will start my second. SO fortunate not to have classes on Mondays! It'll give me a short break to recollect my thoughts and get on with the rest of the week.
To be honest, my summer has been a whirlwind of activity. At the beginning of summer, literally the day after I ended classes at Shi Da, I spent the night in the hospital. I couldn't keep anything down, not even water. So they stuck me with a drip and let me sleep. Definitely not an experience I would like to repeat anytime soon. From the person next to me (she must have alcohol poisoning or something - she was REALLY out of it) repeatedly asking her friend if she could touch my nose, to the man across from me asking me to marry him for a green card, to the simple fact that I was violently sick, it was not my best day. On top of that, I missed an excursion to Zunyi. :( I was NOT a happy camper.
July went by in the blink of an eye really. Weekdays were spent at the center and weekends were spend out having fun. I spent a weekend in Kaiyang, a weekend in Bijie, and a weekend trip to Qingzhen and Huangguoshu (read: BIG WATERFALL) and the last weekend in July/August was really spent around Banquet tables as we celebrated Wendy's baby's 100th day, and celebrated the success of this year's Summer Institute Program (several times over!). I met so many amazing people during the month of July and they are another reason I can't wait to get back so I can deepen these new friendships!
August was spent travelling. For six days I toured through Yunnan province and visited Dali, Lijiang, Chuxiong, and Kunming. I booked a tour with a Chinese travel agency and that alone was ridiculously frustrating. No tours really wanted to include a foreigner because some of the hotels that were included didn't have the licensing to board a foreigner like myself. Super aggravating. We finally found a tour group and I was on my way!
Touring with a whole bunch of Chinese people was a real eye opening experience. I love China and I love the people, but it's sometimes easy to get overwhelmed by the cultural differences. Chinese people don't seem to have any kind of personal space boundaries and standing in line was not a fun experience for me. On more than one occasion I was squished by bodies surrounding me on all sides and someone even pushed me on one occasion. Space is a huge deal for people in the United States and other English-speaking countries, so this was one thing I don't think I'll ever be able to get used to. I have my bubble! Don't touch it! :D
The places we visited were amazing places. I especially liked Chuxiong. It's a city of Yi people (one of the minority peoples in China) and we arrived during one of their annual festivals, the Torch festival. It was a truly extraordinary experience. There was singing and dancing and lots of flaming bundles of wood. What's not to like?
Shortly after returning from Yunnan, I was whisked away to Qianhu Miaozhai, or the village of a thousand houses. Again, I went with a Chinese tour group and that was another spectacular experience. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking and seeing how the houses were stacked on top of each other was something I will never forget! I would definitely like to go there again - SOON.
All my classmates are back in the apartment building right now and we all went out and celebrated the start of the new semester last night with good food and good company. It brought about a startling realization that I will not be here for much longer. That thought is more than sobering. Over the past six months (yes! Six months already!), this place has really become like a second home to me. Michigan will always be first and foremost in my heart, but I will truly miss this place when I leave in four months.
Looks to me I'll need to find a way to keep coming back! Guiyang has a piece of my heart!