Nouns for America, Nouns for China

Hello from—you guessed it—computer class again!

Just a quick update on my NSLI-Y life in Beijing: this past Saturday, I spent my first afternoon with my Beijing host family, the 叶 family. They were lovely—as the parents were preparing lunch for us, I sat with their freshman daughter and discussed the nuances of Greek mythology through the artful words of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson (guilty closeted fangirl as charged) and her difficult Chinese language class, where she has to puzzle through and translate the Confucius Analects from ancient Chinese to simplified Mandarin. Then there was the food. Oh my gosh. They cooked me the best meal I’ve had since landing here in Beijing. There’s some sort of irreplaceable heart-warming aspect about eating home-cooked food around a table in a family-style setting—something I’ve been missing since my last meal at home almost a month ago.

I can feel myself slipping in and out of the honeymoon phase. As the days pass and life becomes mundane, To be honest, I don’t know if there was a honeymoon phase to begin with. I’ve found myself struggling with some random aspects of daily life here, just as I’ve found myself missing random aspects of home.

Since pre-departure orientation, I’ve been collecting nouns from various friends. asking them to encapsulate America into a word, a person, place or thing. A few I’ve really liked so far:

As for nouns for China, only a few have come up so far, those I’ve been collecting slowly. As I write these words, I’m making a promise to myself to more diligently collect them and keep a steady record as these months progress. That being said, here are a few that I have so far.

I’ll keep writing these nouns, perhaps trying to anchor me to the life that I had prior to this still surreal adventure. I’m trying to write my way to understanding—understanding my place here, in the heart of China, appearing Chinese to all those around me but oh-so-still American through and through. More on that later. (Whoo, identity!)

Also, it’s almost Chinese National Day. Imma leave it at that.

Disclaimer: Mei wrote this on 9/20, and now here we are finally finishing it, 10 days later on 9/30. A thorough month-in-review is to come in the next few days as we’re now on holiday break—中国国庆节快乐!(In my defense, these are the first few hours I’ve had to myself in weeks.)


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