Happy Chinese New Year! It is officially the year of the rooster! On Chinese New Year’s Eve, I watched the New Year’s Eve TV show that is broadcasted all over China. My favorite performance was the ice skating in Harbin with an ice castle in the background. I’m still a kid at heart, so it reminded me of Elsa’s castle in the movie Frozen. I also really enjoyed the singing because although I couldn’t understand many of the words, the music was really peaceful and pretty. Plus, it was cool to see so many Chinese performers. It has always bothered me that Chinese girls are usually portrayed as nerdy and awkward, but after watching around four and a half hours of musical, dance, comedy, and drama performances, I was able to see other traits in Chinese women. They are beautiful and talented; much more diverse than the stereotypes seen in America.
The next day, our group of IES Abroad students went to a Buddhist temple called the Jing’an Temple. Since it was Chinese New Year, many Chinese people went to the temple to pay their respects to Buddha. The first thing we saw when we entered the temple were people bowing with burning sticks of incense in their hands, while other people were trying to throw coins into the Hongwu Bell in the middle of the courtyard. The halls surrounding the courtyard had statues of different Buddhas. I almost felt like I was intruding, just being a mere tourist, while there were people kowtowing to the statues and offering fresh fruit, but it was fascinating. Being a Christian, it was interesting to view a religion without being a part of that religion. It gave me perspective of how it might feel to people of different religions or non-religious people when they witness a Christian service.
Being in China has made me think a lot about my identity. I have found myself comparing China and America everywhere I turn, and which place I belong in. It’s funny because I fit in in both places, but at the same time, I don’t fit in either. America is called a melting pot, but I didn’t really think about how that affected me until I witnessed Chinese people staring at Americans and even coming up to ask for a picture. It is strange because I doubt anything like that would happen in America because people from all kinds of nationalities live in the United States. However, for me, I blend in with all the Chinese, but I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb because I feel like I act American. I have always imagined I would feel at home in China, but I think I almost feel more alienated. It is something I will have to continue to figure out while I am here since it is one of the main reasons I came to China, to learn more about my birthplace and how it plays into my life.
On another note, we are waking up before the sunrise tomorrow to start our journey to Chengdu. I’m really excited to get to experience another part of China, and even risk burning my mouth with spicy Sichuan cuisine!
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<p>Hi all! My name is Lucy Swett, and I am a sophomore at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. I am majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Chinese. I was adopted from Hubei China, when I was one year old, raised in the United States, and now I am excited to go back for the first time! I hope you join me in my adventure!</p>