Maria Holland

The Best Thing About America

In Uncategorized on February 12, 2010 at 1:01 am

I remember why I love Xiamen. 

There’s not many of us around right now during the ‘winter vacation’ but those of us that are get to enjoy Xiamen’s spring weather.  One of my friends invited me to a barbecue today, so I joined about 30 of her friends for a perfect afternoon outside.  We went to a sort of coffee house back in some village right off the beach, where we soon covered the table with food.  There was a ridiculously delicious potato-and-egg salad, insanely flavorful meat, and a wide variety of vegetables. 

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Then I busted out the jumbo marshmallows and Hershey’s chocolate that my parents brought over from America and things really got exciting. I think a lot of Western countries eat marshmallows – even roasted over a fire – but for some reason no one besides Americans think of adding chocolate and graham crackers to it.  It’s really their loss, but it’s one I’m trying to rectify – one bag of marshmallows at a time.  It’s pretty much the best thing about America, and I can’t think of a better thing to share with the world. 

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Speaking of America, apparently there’s a new group of Americans at XiaDa.  Since Eva and the guys from UNC left, I don’t have any American friends left, but maybe that’ll be changing soon.  Now I find myself scrutinizing every unknown foreigner I see at West Gate, wondering if they’re an American.  It’s really hard.  The best clues are English t-shirts that actually make sense, jeans that aren’t aggressively acid-washed, and meeting the eyes of strangers with a smile.

Anyway, I met lots of new people today.  I met two girls who know where there is a piano on campus and an Iranian guy who is looking forward to Ahmadinejad’s possible resignation tomorrow.  I also got in an argument with a guy from South Africa about the Chinese habit of shoving.  He kept saying that’s how things are, and you should just get used to it.  A lot of foreigners seem to pride themselves on how perfectly they’ve adapted to Chinese culture and, while it’s tempting to compete, my goal is not to be Chinese.  I live in China, but I am not of China. 

A lot of the parties were Spanish-speakers an it was weird to hear Spanish spoken more than Chinese.  I still understand a lot, but I am resolved to never lose my Chinese like I’ve lost my Spanish.  I’m sad that I can no longer speak it, certainly, but whatever Spanish I had came to me pretty effortlessly; easy come, easy go.  Chinese, though . . . I did not go through this year just for fun, and I will keep it up. 

I’ve also figured out that I am officially obsessed with graduating from college.  Someone said they were going to be in Xiamen for three years and the first thought in my mind was, “I hope I’ve graduated by then”.  That’s a little ridiculous, isn’t it?  Before this ‘China Year’ I was only marginally more excited about graduating from college than I was about graduating from high school.  It was just one of those things that I was going to do – for sure, like getting up in the morning or getting dressed (most days, at least!).  It doesn’t become a big deal until something threatens the inevitability of the seemingly-inevitable.  I know I’ll graduate, but it’s going to be on my mind until I do.

It’s supposed to be getting cold and rainy, starting tomorrow.  It’s okay, I think I can handle it now – but I seriously thank God for the past two days. 

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  1. Maria,
    You don’t know me but my name is Dee Ann Davis, but I have been reading your journal since your dad posted the link on his facebook. We graduated from high school together- a long time ago. I have really enjoyed reading your journal while you’ve been in China. I have been impressed how you have handled all of the obstacles you have been faced with. I know there have been times that you were discourged and a little down but you were determined to handle each problem and you did. You are a very strong, determined, intelligent, beautiful young woman and I know your parents are very proud of you. I was so glad that your parents were able to visit you and tour China with you. Stay safe and I will be praying for you. Enjoy the rest of your time in China and just realize that with everything that you’ve already been through you can make it through the next several months.
    Take care and have a good semester,
    Dee Ann

  2. Nice to ‘meet’ you, and I’m glad you’re enjoying my stories! Thanks for the encouragement :)

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