Maria Holland

I Packed My Suitcases, and In Them I Put*:

In Uncategorized on August 24, 2009 at 2:48 am

*note: this list is not comprehensive

  • 4 dresses and 5 skirts (enough for No Pants Week!)
  • 1 pair of bright yellow rain boots (to show the Chinese that they are fashionable!)
  • 1 pair of heels (in case I want to stick out even more)
  • 3 sticks of deodorant (because Chinese deodorant is NOT the same!)
  • 12 tubes of Carmex (because I can’t just go to the C-store every time I misplace one)
  • 2 packs of soap sheets (for sub-par bathrooms)
  • 1 jar of Nutella (because for many people, peanut butter was their only link to sanity when they were abroad – but I know I can get peanut butter in China)
  • 1 case of Hershey’s chocolate bars (because I don’t enjoy eating Chinese chocolate, a.k.a. brown crayons)
  • 2 spray bottles of Febreeze (for those times when laundry is unavailable or inconvenient.  Also for my underclothes, which are packed in my rain boots)
  • 1 Bible (the only book that could provide reading material for an entire year)
  • 1 copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – first book only (which has made me laugh out-loud each of the many times I’ve read it)
  • 4 decks of cards (for teaching and learning card games, like real-life King Mao)
  • 1 Catan board game (minus the ocean hexes, because they take up too much space)
  • 2 photo albums (so I can show all my new friends all my old friends)
  • 40 pages of sheet music (so my piano-playing fingers don’t atrophy)

As you can see from the list above, I’m about as ready as I’m ever going to get!  I leave in just about 24 hours, which seems very real.  Arriving in China another 24 hours after that, however, has definitely not sunk in yet.

I am fully aware that I’m in for a big shock, despite having been to China several times.  To me, right now, China is a farm outside a small city in the northeast.  China is a place where half of the people speak Korean as their first language.  China is a place where I am mistaken for a Russian everywhere I go.  China is a place I go with some of my best American friends, to see some of my good Chinese friends.  China is a place where I shovel manure, bale hay, and slaughter chickens.

I know that I can’t expect these things to hold true, but I don’t know what to expect in their place.

If I’ve learned anything since heading to college, though, it’s that sometimes things turn out much, much better than you could have ever expected.  Take this summer, for example.  Even 10 weeks ago, this was not how I pictured this summer, but it has been much more than I hoped for.  I got to see almost all of my extended family, which is quite a feat.  I got to celebrate the marriages of three good friends.  I saw friends in Tulsa and was also fortunate enough to meet up with some of them in other places.  I got to visit several of my high school friends at their new homes, something I always missed out on by being so far away.  I kept busy but was never really stressed about anything.  I gained a lot from the Chinese class I took and, because of that, am much more confident about this year.  My teachers (except for one) were great, making class enjoyable and productive.  I got to attend the U for a few months and get a little bit of a feel for the benefits of a big school, while not having to endure some of the drawbacks, like big classes.  I got to experience public transportation on a daily basis and gain enough confidence to attempt it (successfully!) in another city.  The Udall conference was an amazing few days that far surpassed my expectations, and I got to share it with incredible people whom I plan on staying in close contact with.

So, with all this in mind, I’m feeling very content and mellow right now.  This is somewhat surprising, considering I just finished another phone call with my Chinese friend and the Overseas Education College of my university, in which I found out that classes may or may not start until the middle of September and I may or may not have a place to live after that point.  I’m looking on the bright side, though.  Think of all these interesting, informative cultural experiences that I’m having even before leaving my country!

And so, I am soon to embark on this journey, armed with enough Chinese money (and hopefully enough Chinese words!) to get me to Xiamen University.

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  1. Maria, I’m so excited to start hearing about your adventures! Best of luck with everything and have a safe flight!

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