Hi everyone! The past month seems to have gone by in a blur. I was kept busy as classes wrapped up, and spent a lot of time in the library in my last few weeks writing final papers. Here’s the quick summary of the month of December, with a few of the big highlights:
Organized a winter holiday party
I worked with my classmate Belinda to organize a winter holiday party for YCA with members of the office. Most of the students who were on campus attended, and we had a few student performances and a nice buffet dinner. We were celebrated 冬至 (DongZhi), the Winter Festival, and everyone got to participate in folding dumplings for good luck. My roommate Candy explained that eating dumplings is supposed to keep your ears from falling off in the winter cold – so always eat an even number of dumplings on Dongzhi!
We had a bunch of decorations and supplies that we were supposed to receive for this party, but unfortunately we experienced a number of delays because of the poor air quality! (Curses – another red air alert!) Instead, most of our decorations were scavenged from various parts of the campus… but we made it work!
Celebrated Christmas and New Years with friends
This was the first holiday season I spent away from home, which did make me feel a little bit homesick. I normally spend my holidays in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., spending time with friends and extended family. I was happy to have a chance to Skype in and talk with some of my cousins, aunts, and uncles though when they got together for brunch! As far as holiday celebrations go in Beijing, I went out to a few Christmas dinners, and had a really nice New Year’s Eve. I think that having a close group of friends to celebrate with has definitely made this holiday season pretty special – though I can’t be around my family, I also have a family of friends here to keep me company.
New year, new me!
This one’s a bit of a minor thing, and definitely more focused on personal vanity than the others. But, I decided it was time for a bit of a change so I dyed my hair and got a new pair of glasses. I haven’t done much to change my appearance in the past couple of years besides getting periodic haircuts – so it’s a welcome difference I think.
Finally, I’m writing this on the road! I’ve started a forty-day trip through Southeast Asia, going through Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, and ending in Hong Kong. I’m going to be spending some time with classmates in my program, some time with family, and some older friends from my summer spent studying at Cambridge and working in Hong Kong. I am looking forward to getting some time out of Beijing and breathing fresh air, and seeing a little bit more of the world.
My Grandma and Grandpa had a map mounted on corkboard that they used to keep above the staircase in their New Jersey home, marking every place they’ve been to with little red pins. It was always inspirational for me – seeing so much of the world, and experiencing life in a way that is different from what you’ve grown accustomed to. I’m looking forward to following in their footsteps over the coming month and adding a few pins into my own (mental) map.
Note to self: invest in a real travel map once you’re back in the USA!
Lots of love,