On Arriving and Adapting (Elena in Nanjing, China)

There were a few things that I worried about as I packed for my summer class in China; first was “How am I going to make all of my flights?” Second: “How am I going to fit my shampoo and conditioner into my already full bag?” And third: “How, after arriving, am I going to communicate with my host family?” Well I somehow managed to make all of my flights, and unfortunately I had to leave behind my shampoo and conditioner, leaving me only one thing to worry about as I traveled from Beijing to Nanjing, the last leg of my journey. I had only taken one year of Mandarin, and my spoken Chinese was really not that great. Things got even more confusing when I realized that my host grandmother, who I would eventually spend most of my time with, spoke Chinese with a very thick Nanjing accent, making it even harder for me to understand. The first couple of weeks were rough; I started to feel like my host family didn’t like me because I couldn’t communicate with them. Every time I opened my mouth I would pray that I wouldn’t accidentally say something insulting. But as time went on, and my Chinese got better, I felt that me and my host family began to understand each other a little more. I would tell my host grandma about my family back in the States, and she would tell me stories about growing up in China. There definitely were moments when things were awkward with my host family, but in the end, I was really glad that I decided to live with them. Through their kindness and patience with me, I learned way more about China and Chinese culture than I would have living in a dorm.

Chinese Family

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