In case you don’t know, this year is my first year in Beijing, and first time living in China since I was a baby. This means that the Chinese lifestyle is new to me. This story is a story about how I adapted to China.
I slowly closed the door behind me, and looked up to my house for the last time. Then I slowly walked to the car, and climbed in. Today was moving day. Everything that had previously been in the house was now either shoved into one of the twelve luggage bags, or was sold. I took all of my valuables with me, my most valuable swimming medals, my piano trophy, and small wallet my best friend had gave me the night before.
“Buckle your seat belts,” the chauffeur said. My mind flashed back to yesterday. I was at the Independence Day fair, at the community center. My friends and I were watching the fireworks, and eating hot dogs and hamburgers. I knew that would be the last time I would see them, and all of them gave me a card, saying “Good luck in China.” My best friend gave me the small wallet. I remembered saying farewell to all of my friends.
The car started to move, and although outside was just a midnight darkness and I had no sleep, I was not tired at all. As the car pulled away from the driveway, I looked outside, observing every detail of the neighborhood, so it would be harder to forget it. As we passed my best friend’s house, I felt tears about to stream down my face, but I held them back. Before I knew it, we were out of the neighborhood, and on the highway.
The plane ride was dull and boring, and after what felt like million years, we finally arrived. Since there were too many planes at the airport, we had to stop in the middle of the airplane takeoff place and ride a bus to the airport. When I looked out the window, I saw what I had expected: a dirty wasteland, with so mush smog that you couldn’t see a foot in front of you. Now that I was in Beijing, I knew to be strong, and not think about my old hometown. This was the fresh start to a new life.
I carried my luggage out of the plane, and the first thing I felt was the sudden stroke of heat from the Beijing air. After that was my first breathe in Beijing, which was followed by a cough. By the time everyone was out of the plane, the bus was crowded to the point were not even a grain of sand could fit. Unfortunately for me, I was next to a fat lady with bad breath. The bus was hot, humid, and disgusting. Finally, after a ten-minute ride, we arrived at the airport door. I had expected air conditioning in the airport, but I was only welcomed with another stroke of heat.
I felt drops of sweat leaking down my face, and smelled all of the cigarettes people were smoking. After more tedious walking and stopping, we were finally out of the airport. We quickly called a taxi, and hopped in for the ride to our new apartment. Again, I stared outside, and saw all of the beggars on the streets, all the cigarettes lying on the ground, all the traffic, it was terrible. To put it accurately, it was atrocious. After a while, my mom broke the silence and said, “To the left, will be your school you will be attending. It’s called ISB. It’s for foreign students just like you.” I looked up, and saw a massive building, which gates surrounding it. I thought to myself, At least I will be going to a good school.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, we came to our home. We carried all the luggage, and needed to elevator trips to get everything to the third floor. My mom opened the door, and inside was a small room, and nothing else. “Don’t worry, we have another apartment,” my mom said. Even so, the total area was equivalent to my old house’s kitchen. I put all of my luggage into the storage room, and slumped down on the couch.
“Does air conditioning exist in China?” I asked my mom. She looked at me, and knew I was having a bad attitude over moving. So she decided to switch the topic.
“How has China been so far?” my mom asked me. “Tell the truth.”
Since she said “Tell the truth”, I figured that she was expecting a bad answer. So that’s what I gave her. The truth.
“This place is a dumpster. Literally, there are people treating the streets like bathrooms, and everyone smokes. Why did we have to move to China in the first place? Why didn’t Dad just find a job in the U.S.? Why did you have to do this? How will I make new friends? I hate everyone here, and I doubt that will change!” I replied, in an angry voice.
“Calm down,” my mom said. “Part of the reason we moved here was to give you an experience. You know, these experiences are valuable. Not everyone has the opportunity to go to Chi-”
“So?” I shouted. “Out of all the places we could have moved to, we moved to China. Why couldn’t we have just stayed in America? This place is as corrupt as Iraq, but more pollution. Also, before I get to experience anything in this stupid place, I will get lung cancer and die!” I interrupted.
“Calm down, Jonathan. You don’t get my point. You are not the only kid who has moved from another country to China. Besides, you are Chinese. What’s the point of being Chinese if you have never lived there?”
“So? Am I here only because I’m Chinese? Is that the only point?”
Finally, after a thirty-minute conversation, I finally calmed down.
“Look,” my mom said. “I know that adapting to this lifestyle will be difficult, but you will have to do it either way. Come on. Let’s go outside and look around.
I followed her out of the apartment and into the smog. I coughed and sputtered, because back in Marlboro, I had never breathed through this bad air. We wandered around the downtown, and to my surprise, the subway stations were not half-destroyed, like I had expected. I thought to myself, A city with a good subway station doesn’t mean that the city itself is good. Then I remembered to not think so negatively about Beijing. During the trip, we went to Tiananmen, the CCTV tower, and several museums. By the time we got home, I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to tell my friend on Google. Then I remembered, that in China, Google is not allowed. I groaned, and tried to guess my friend’s Yahoo email, if he had one. It was fruitless, and I started getting angry again, when my dad said, “Google is not permitted in China, but on my computer you can use it.”
So I hopped onto his computer and went on Google. I sent a message to my friends, “Hey, everyone. All is well in China, and although the pollution is bad, the place is very exciting and interesting. There are all kinds of things that can’t be found in Marlboro. It’s just sad that you need VPN to access Google, so email me your Yahoo accounts or your Skype.” I clicked the Send button and almost immediately, I got a reply. It was one of my friends: “What’s up Jonathan? Is China really dirty? Is it really polluted? Does everyone smoke?” I was about to reply, when my dad said, “I need to use the computer now. Can you get off it?” So I go off the computer and stared out the window. I thought to myself,
Life is full of new experiences. China is a place very different from Marlboro. Take this opportunity to explore new things, learn new cultures, and see the world differently. This is the start of a brand-new life, possibly a more exciting one, so dare to risk everything, make new friends, and take the path no one as taken before. A great adventure starts here.