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Saturday, February 27, 2010

More and more I am putting my discomfort aside and embracing the every day life of Beijing no. 80 high school. I’ve been grieving the past days, being away from what you have known your whole life is hard. Now I have made some new friends and that is the perfect remedy for the homesickness I’ve been having. I’ve been able to talk to my parents’ seldom on skype but as of now email is the main form of contact. So if you’re reading this take the time to shoot me an email (ilovelampley@gmail.com). The internet over here is completely on lockdown as the Chinese government monitors everything. Facebook, YouTube, even the blogging website that I need to post these blogs is blocked. Thus to keep this blog going I must email the post to my mother and she take forth the responsibilities of the blog.

Life in the dorms has kinda grown on me the past few days. First it was an old soviet prison, now it’s a way of life. With a little cleaning (a lot of bleach) and some TLC the dorm is mine and my roommate’s home. Dorm life is actually pretty cool. I’ve made friends with some of the international students. On our floor we have about 3 Germans, 4 Kazaks, some Koreans, 1 Japanese, 1 brazilin, 1 Taiwanese, 1 Mongolian, and us (3 Americans). The Germans are the best to relate with as they all know English pretty well. They have been at this school since August and know all the ins and outs of the teachers and the school in general. Their very techy as well so they have shown us some very cool stuff that China offers, free downloads of anything-games (full sized xbox games), music, movies, whatever!

Food is ok, the café we have at BJ 80 is not the best but I can be described as “different”, One of the Germans told me once we went to ladle some soup and he lifted a whole baby duck out of the soup, yuk! But aside from the café, food outside the walls of Beijing 80 is very diverse and outstanding. Sushi bars, hotpot bars, authentic Chinese food, McDonalds all are easy to access and cheap. But the only time we are aloud to exit BJ 80 is 4-7 o’clock, this is when school ends and we must be back in our dorms by 7 for mandatory study time. It really isn’t that bad.

First day of actual class starts today and I’m excited. My teachers name is li laoshi and seems to be one of the sweetest Chinese ladies I have ever met. I’m starting in a basic Chinese class and I am with a few of the Americans I came with and about 5 other Korean kids varying from age 13 to 18. We got our books and study materials yesterday and it seems like it going to be a good refresher to the Chinese language for the next several days. I do see it getting challenging it the future.

In short I’m having a blast here. The whole experience is wonderful. The residents of the international dorm are all working together to make this place more like home, new wifi router, cultural decorations, stocking the communal fridges with international foods. The school even has a huge gym on campus, yay!

First days

Well I’m finally here. Can’t tell you how many butterflies are in my stomach. When I made it to the airport I felt nothing but excitement.

After a short trip to the High school and the dorms where I will be staying I feel nothing but sick to my stomach.

The dorms are in very bad condition, I would rather stay in a dirty Howard Johnson in the middle of Newark, New Jersey. It may sound crazy but going to the supermarket and collecting cleaning supplies is at the very top if my list.

As my roommate said “all this room needs is a little TLC”.You can’t even begin to understand the spiral of emotions I have now. The excitement of making international friends and learning Chinese, and the regret for leaving your nest with the people that love you.

Internet connection is still in the works right now, I haven’t been able to call my parents yet but I can use email from a provided computer in the dorms commons area. Cant wait to give them a call and hear their voice.

Orientation for my school is today and I will get the basics. Once I get my money exchanged and my communications in tact, I bet I will feel a whole lot better.

This is probably going to be the hardest part, adjusting to Chinese time, culture, and being away from my family is painful. In light of this, my first week will be geared to make me comfortable. I will meet my host family this weekend for the first time, as well as get to know the head teachers of the school during orientation.

I’m thinking about everyone back home and please say a prayer for me to help me get through this slump. Zai jian.

Friday, February 19, 2010

D.C., probably one of the coolest places I've ever been to. My mom and I traveled around the national mall as soon as we checked into our hotel. As always she prepared for the worst and forcefully made my wear the renowned "bomber jacket". This jacket is as ugly as it is warm and could make a little guy like me a very unappealing person to sit by on a packed plane.

The national mall was amazing, all of the monuments I've only seen in movies ,were now standing in front of me. D.C. is very pretty while in winter, but i wouldn't mind if it was a few notches warmer.

This was also the last time I would spend time with my mom till I get back so nonetheless a bittersweet excursion. I will miss her and the rest of my family and friends very much. Surprisingly I haven't shed a tear through the whole experience yet I cant say the same for my mom. She assures me that she will try to stay as uplifted and optimistic as I am during this experience with the quote " Collin, don't worry about me. I'm a freaking pillar!"

Beautiful as it is, I am departing Saturday morning for what is sure to be an even more exciting experience.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

As the day draws near it is impossible to block out the reality of the situation. A bittersweet week, goodbye to friends, co-workers, and family. All the things that have once been taking for granted are now gut wrenching final requests. Something as simple as tacos from taco bell can bring tears to ones eyes, for you know its not on the other side.

Going to the movie theater with my mom was the first stop on this week of gorging on western society. We saw The Book of Eli, surprisingly a interesting plot and a strong moral theme of faith. Just what I need, faith, the next few weeks are going to turn out alright.

One of my best buddies had me come over after work to find many of my friends from school celebrating my departure. it was a fun night but nonetheless saddening to let go of so many people that have grown on me in my high school career. After church i spent my afternoon with some of my wrestling buddies at the gym. One of my best friends that I have known since I moved to NC stopped by my house to drop off a few gifts, numerous American candies and movies to keep me busy on the plane. She truly is one of the most thoughtful people for doing so, and I appreciate that my friends care about me so much.

My last day at work was excruciatingly painful. I have come to know the waitstaff as well as the managers well enough to miss them as much as my classmates. I want to thank them for the good times i had while working there, it was truly a fun experience.I hope to be lucky enough to get my position back once i return ( Amiee, don't give my job away to some high school drop out).

My bags are packed and ready to go, I'm leavin on a jet plane.

It feels like the last supper of a teenager that is in over his head for a experience that is way out of my league.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

So I guess my last two posts just kinda gave you a vague look into my life. Most "good" blogs probably give you some kind of background or overview of the writers life, family, personality, etc.. I'm gonna make up for that today for that reader that has no idea who I am.

I live with my mom and my dad. My dad is a very kind and loving guy. Probably one of the most determined people I know as he works all day and deals with the kids all night. Kinda like a Groundhogs day of responsibility, yet he find joy in what he does and it is keenly noticed by all of the household. He gets all of us organized and on the right path while still being kind to all of us kids. My mother is one of the most supportive and down to earth people. She'll tell you like it is. She can see all the problems about something and have all the solutions in her back pocket. While baby's cling to her morning to sunset and the big kids constantly making messes, she keeps her cool (most of the time). I value her opinion as she is very open minded yet steadfast on her values and goals. Its all or nothing for this woman. With a cast iron conscience and a all knowing perception its hard to hide any thing from her. To sum it up, she scares the crap out of me and the kids. But shes still the best mom in the whole world, yee-haa.

Now there are five kids in the family, me, kobi, jack, mina, and finn. I'm the eldest by a good ten years from the next runner up, which is Kobi. Kobi is seven and is the most passive aggressive thing on the face of the planet. She loves crafts and knick nacky things. She has such a kind and serving heart but doesnt like any type of confrontations. Sooo sweet from the minute you meet her, just don't wake her before 8 a.m.

This is Jack. Hes today's latest mystery. How could someone so clueless and numb to any instruction be the smartest kid in the household. This kid just picked up reading as a hobby at the age of 4, taught himself. Very self sufficient and more of a mannly man than I could ever be. Focused and determined, he loves sports of any kind and likes to play the Wiiiiii.

Mina and Finn were adopted from China. Mina is 3 and Finn is 2. Minas been home with us for about a 2 years and Finn about 8 months. If you asked for more contrasting personalities, you wouldn't find 'em. Mina, a thin, scrappy overflow of personality is a bit much for anybody to chew. I say she could win survivor, the t.v. reality show because of her ungodly ability to analyze and manipulate people at the age of 3. Cute as a button, I'm gonna have trouble been the older brother of this one.

Finn is just a little lump of joy. Very quite and is self sufficient. She is like my brother Jack in so many ways. Very cuddly and smart yet the laziest thing around. She'll sit and watch Mina and Kobi pick up her mess on occasion. Shes lazy to the point were if she doesn't feel like talking, she creates her own sign language. Just feed 7 times a day and shes the happiest thing around.

Then theres me. I'm always open to new things and love an adventure. I never try to settle for the norm, and be different in every way imagineable. Its 150% or nothing. That's the problem with me. You will never see my studying for more than ten minutes. Along with that, I consider myself very critical on certain subjects and will not be easily swayed. I try to appease everyone and make every thing work int he best interest for the people I care about.
I participate in my schools student council and wrestling team. I love them and have a strong commitment to both of them. I had to give them both up to accept this scholarship which is heart breaking for me. Yet, I know new doors will open and this experience will benifit me.

I ran a 5k today with my co-workers from this bistro and bar I work at. Realizing that this run would be one of the last times I would spend time with them till I get back from China, it was very sentimental. I've worked at Encore for about a year now and my co-workers, mostly composed of college students have grown on me. They are some of the best friends I've ever had and will miss them.

I also got a chance to see one of my favorite teachers. A health and fitness teacher, also my student council adviser and personal Dr.Phil. Running is one of the hobbies we share and I'm proud to say I beat her by a strong two minutes, haha.

9 days till I leave N.C. for D.C.. Its becoming so real as each day passes by.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I wonder what the target pharmacists thought when my mother and I raided the medicine isle. Maybe that we had a mother-son operated meth lab in our crawl space. We don't. My mom keeps telling me that medicine is the most important item to bring to china, but I doubt I'll use half of this stuff. along with this heap, my mother has yet to purchase vitamins (like the kind that are so big it is sometimes necessary to take two bites) and enough prescriptions to last me the rest of my life. My mom even joked that she was gonna get me one of those day by day medicine containers that my grandma uses, was she joking?

I'm getting the feeling now that this all isn't so far away. It use to be something I could brag about to my friends, now it seems all to close to feel much excitement. Sure I'm excited but this opportunity is so surreal that its hard to comprehend that I'm going to detach myself to a life that I always new. As the date draws closer and closer, the cheeseburgers and clean drinking water are of the most cherished things.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hello, and welcome to Beijing for dummies. I'm the dummy. Because all dummies have names, I am Collin. Me along with my four other siblings live with my parents in an undisclosed place in the great state of North Carolina (my mom thinks she is famous so she told me not to tell the exact location of our house). I'm a junior in high school and sadly had to bail from my second semester. Why? Because I am one of the four fortunate high school students in the United States to receive the NSLI-Y scholarship for Beijing study. Now this is a great achievement, no doubt about it, but the hard part isn't even over. 12 days from now I will leave my home and travel to Washington for my PDO (pre-departure orientation).This is the last twelve days I'm going to spend in this house as it is in the process of being sold. On February 20th, I leave the country for Beijing.This is surly the most gut wrenching experience of my life, and I haven't even gone though with it yet. Its going to be hard for me to leave the most loving family in the world knowing that there is no way out.. (unless of course i get seriously injured or sick).

You must think I'm some genius with the head diameter twice the size of a normal man to receive such a honor. NOPE, personally i think it was a mailing mistake when they sent me the acceptance letter, and some genius freshman out there with a 7.0 GPA is ticked. Nevertheless I am embarking on this remarkable study experience at Beijing no. 80 High School. When I say I am over my head, I mean it. I haven't had a teacher instructed Chinese course in over a year, and I feel my personality is going to be very outstanding when surrounded by Chinese culture. five months in such an extremely different culture isn't gonna be a cake walk, but I'm ready for what ever obstacles i will encounter.