By Syndey Chin
Today was another day with my host family, I woke at the usual time of 7 o’clock to the smell of my host mom’s wonderful cooking. It was the same welcoming smell as every morning that I had been in the house. As soon as I stepped out of my room I heard a cheerful 早上好 (zaoshanghao good morning). After getting ready for the day ahead I sat down to the usual enormous breakfast from my host mom, the second I finished what was already on the plate, she reached over to spoon me more food, which I didn’t have the heart to say no to. Even thought I was already full, seeing how happy she was, made me want to eat even more. The morning ride to school was a scenic experience with the beautiful mountains and greenery青山绿水 (qingshanlushui green mountains and green water) and 蓝天白云(lantianbaiyun blue skies and white clouds) which can used to describe the impeccable beauty of Xiamen’s landscape.
Our classes followed the schedule of a normal day on campus in Xiamen University, but since we moved to host families, classes seemed a little more special. Today during Dr. Chen’s usual lecture on Chinese history and culture we had a guest speaker come in to talk about the schooling system for students in China. In China students usually have nine years of free compulsory education, and it can be broken up in many ways but many students have 6 years of primary school, 3 years of middle school. After middle school, students take a test to get into high school called the 中考 (zhongkao). Highs school in China is 3 years compared the American high school term which is 4 years. In the last year of high school Chinese students will take a test called the 高考(gaokao) which will determine which college they can enter. I found this lecture very interesting because I was able to go home and talk about it with my sister.
Dinner with my host family was another feast. My host dad cooked for us, he encouraged me to continue eating more and more even after I was full. After I told him I really enjoyed eating clams because it was hard to get fresh clams in Chicago, he proceeded to scoop a huge spoonful onto my plate. I could see that my host parents really cared for me in the way they wanted me to be content and full. After dinner my sister and I did homework together, she studied English while I studied Chinese; periodically we would stop and ask each other questions to clarify rules in the language we were studying. We took a short study break to eat some mango which was incredibly fresh and sweet! In the kitchen we had a small dance party to my music play list. Studying with her was so much fun and we joked about our language mistakes.
It’s about time for me to sleep and wake up to another eventful day in Xiamen!