Nostalgia hits hard

Nostalgia isn’t just a feeling, it’s a crash of emotions that befalls you when it’s the most unexpected. Not just homesickness, but a mix of remembrance and sadness, as you’re only nostalgic when you are not home, stranded, helpless.

Nostalgia may be a current of water. It flows from your head to your stomach, then back to your eyes, uncontrollable, rolling out like a waterfall. Sometimes you don’t realize its existence until your mouth takes a sip of that salty drop.

You’d laugh at your woe and call it odd, but the current will not halt. So I comfort myself. Don’t cry, child, for you don’t have time for it now.

Nostalgia is more than a feeling. I hope whoever has it can return to their loved ones in a short while. 

Nevertheless, will you still miss your home, if your lover is stranded as well?

(I’m a Chinese international student in the US. Because of certain policies that were made for the coronavirus, I cannot go back home. I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to meet my family and friends. The uncertainty is a real menace, it’s eating me alive. What if something happens to someone whom I love while I’m overseas? What if at the end of the day I’m left behind as the only one living? The uncertainty is killing me. I hope everything goes well in China, I hope there’ll be an antidote for this madness. I feel really helpless and overwhelmed because there’s literally nothing I could contribute to better the situation, I could only sit and watch the number of infected and deaths go up and wish that my circle of people has nothing to do with it. It’s truly rotten when you are a spectator of your fellow countrymen’s deaths. 

I just hope things go well. I’m praying for a change.)

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Viruses have NO nationality

Last week, I went to a basketball game at another school. 

Before the game, my Chinese friend was sneezing five times in a row due to her allergies.

The referee saw her and made a really stupid joke. 

“You got that virus too?”

No one laughed, except him. 

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I saw the news today. 

In the subway station in NYC, an Asian lady was attacked for wearing a mask, and called a ‘Diseased B*tch’. 

I was totally shocked, I just couldn’t understand it. 

I thought mask means protection, for the people who are wearing it. 

But in that news, mask brought her something completely different from protection.

This is a story that my friend told me. 

She is a student abroad in Sydney, and when she called a taxi from the airport to school. 

The first sentence driver said to her: “Are you from China?”

She said: “Yes.”

The driver said: “Don’t open your mouth in the car.”

She was so confused and astounded, feeling endlessly helpless.

Ebola is not an African virus, H1N1 is not a Mexican virus, and the coronavirus is not a Chinese virus.

Viruses have NO nationality.

Racism is the MOST dangerous virus.

Let’s go against viruses together, NOT Chinese.

Some thoughts about the Wuhan Virus

A deadly virus has spread throughout China. With now 76 people killed, tens of thousands being possibly infected, death festers upon negligence and ignorance. Some fools choose to travel, knowing they’re infected with this crazily contagious virus. More and more innocent people, children, are dying for that idiocy. 

I’m anxious. Checking the updates on anything related to the virus has become my new habit. The ones I care the most about are in China, and tomorrow they could be dead… all because of that damned negligence. 

But at the same time, I feel sad. What are the infected supposed to do? Sit down and die? How can you blame anyone when the whole plot is sad, when it is your townspeople you’re talking about, when it’s your friends and loved ones’ lives on the line. 

Now I’m in dispute with myself. I don’t know what to write. Thinking that you’re lucky, that you’ve escaped the virus, that the deaths of other people are irrelevant… I don’t know what to think. 

At first you’re in shock, then relaxed, thinking that they’ll have the cure developed by tomorrow… isn’t it the 21st century? Then anxiety hits. You start a journey looking for the antidote for the virus, but there’s no antidote for you.

It’s the Chinese New Year. After a year of struggling, most people finally get some rest. Families get together, friends gather… and boom…

My hometown in the same province as Wuhan City, where the virus first started to murder. Now the province is under lockdown. For that, I pray for my family. 

My mother hasn’t been healthy for a few years. I worry for her well-being, now that a deadly virus walks the earth. My sister feels ill, I hope it’s just a cold…

However, there is a silver lining. And how can one go on without faith?

Today, the first step toward curing the disease with vaccination has been initiated. 




By no standards are my Chinese skills any more than proficient. After moving away at the age of 12, things started to fade for me very quickly. After six months I forgot how to write; after a year, my reading; then finally, my identity.

By the time I entered the eighth grade, I had been thoroughly white-washed. Granted, I am only half Chinese, but I was raised to embrace my Chinese background, to be proud of my heritage. But it was slipping away.

I went back to China the summer before I entered my Freshman year of High School. I wasn’t able to handle the street-food, my 8-year-old cousin was speaking better than I was, and I had lost a connection with the country that raised me.

Before I left my Grandmother repeated something to me that she had told me before I moved away. “Remember,” she said simply, “Remember where you come from.” When she said this, I realized it was a plea for me to clasp onto my cultural identity that was on the cusp of being extinguished. I had a life in China, friends, family, and a part of myself that never seems to board the flight to LAX when my visits end.

So I listened to her, I pushed myself to retain the identity I found in being Chinese, I acknowledged the comments of being only half, being unable to communicate, but they don’t bother me. When I listen to songs from my childhood, when I go back to visit, when I speak my native tongue, no matter how poor it is, I feel like myself again.

There are certain things in everyone’s life that hold invaluable, unspeakable significance to their sense of self, to their state of being, that without it, they feel like a bulb without its filament. To me that is the ability to speak in Chinese. As soon as the words escape me, I feel that connection again, I remember the people, taste the food, experience the culture. I am eternally grateful to my Grandmother for what she instilled in me because I know that at my lowest moments I always have something to lean on.

Happy Birthday Derek

It’s a Small World

When I was in first grade, I went to school in Hangzhou International School. The classes ranged from preschool to twelfth grade, totaling to about 312 students. At least, that’s the only number I remember.

HIS is a small private school with students from Japan, Korea, Germany, Australia, you name it. It was a day school, ending at 3, and uniforms were required. Nobody got dress-coded, and each class became very, very tight.

One of my most vivid memories is walking down a long, white hallway decorated with life-sized paintings of dinosaurs. It was an empty hallway with big windows and no doors, so we could be as loud as we wanted. And with 25+ students in my grade, we were definitely loud. We travelled from class to class as a pack, because in lower and middle school, that’s how classes worked.

Photo cred: Byrne Robotics

I was at HIS for 8 years. Leaving China to go to Ojai Valley School was probably the biggest change in my life.

There’s only 114 students at OVS. At least, that’s the only number I remember. We have a dress code and students that ran around campus in all different directions to different classes.

It’s wide, crazy, open, and very, very, very small. You’re basically forced to  get to know the people here because we’re kinda-sorta stuck on top of a hill together.

The two college dorms I applied to, Skarland and Moore, with 100 and 322 students living in them. Which are the sizes of the only schools I have ever been to. I guess you can consider me a small-town girl.

It was a small world for me. This school, with about 9,000 students, is going to be an entirely new galaxy for me.

Christmas in China

Lots of my American friends have been asking me about Christmas in China and how we celebrate the holiday. Well, since Christmas is not a Chinese traditional festival, we do not really celebrate it like the western cultures.

However, Christmas is becoming more well known and more popular. There are always Christmas tress near the big shopping malls and the trees on the roadsides will be decorated into colorful lights. There will be sales in the malls and Christmas music is everywhere.

Only some families opt to have a small Christmas tree during Christmas in China. Few homes have Christmas lights strung outside or candles in the windows. Malls, banks and restaurants often have Christmas displays, Christmas trees, and lights. Large shopping malls help usher in Christmas in China with tree lighting ceremonies.

As for the Santa Claus, it’s not uncommon to see a Santa Claus at malls and hotels across Asia. To draw some attention, some stores will have their staff dress up as Santa and probably do some performances. Chinese children do not really get gifts from people but everyone expects something from the mysterious Santa Claus.

I am really excited about this upcoming holiday. Hope it’ll snow this year!

For Sake of the Snake (part 1)

It was 9:30 at night, maybe 10:00. I was reading intensely, as I usually do, but was quickly brought out of my concentration by the muffled noises coming from our first floor. I quietly snuck out of my room and sat on the top of the staircase, peering between the hollow metal bars of the railing and wondering why my mom and nanny were fretting in front of our window.

I continued to sneak down, careful to avoid creaky steps, and crawled atop the dog-haired couch to see what was behind the window. The window was the size of the wall, allowing us to see much of what goes on outside, but for the moment, all our interest was focused on a shadowy figure at the rightmost corner of the window.

It was around wintertime, sometime between November and February (wide range, I know), so the heaters of our house were on and the windows were like sheets of ice. There, huddled sadly in the corner, was a large, black snake.

I think that was the first real snake I ever saw in my life.

In my hours within Animal Planet I had watched many shows on snakes, as well as picture books and book mentions. I had always been fascinated by them, so that night, my 10-year-old self was in a shock from seeing that creature.

My nanny grew up on a farm, where snakes are her bane. My mom didn’t like that snake sitting there and “endangering” our family and dogs, so they were wondering the best way to shoo it away. My nanny took a boot and whacked the window with it, which caused the snake to hiss and strike on the window.

I woke up the next morning wondering if it was a dream. To this day I’m still wondering, but either way it doesn’t matter. And now, with my incredible knowledge of snakes, I conclude that the window snake was a black rat snake.

Kevin, Kenny, and Nicholas Cage

We had missed our flight.

What a way to start the first day of camp, eh? Arriving at 10pm in the dark gives a great first impression.

I had pulled an all-nighter as our flight was at 4am, which was a very stupid thing to do. I felt like death while waiting for the next plane to fly.

I was grumpy. I’m sure my little brother was too.

The car ride was awkward because everyone but my little brother and the driver was asleep.

I remember waking up and groggily stepping out of the car. The first thing I remember from the camp was a startling loud cry of a very, very familiar bird.

It was a peacock call.

All over camp, wandering freely, were peacocks. I was told that the peacocks roaming the main part of camp were called Kevin and the ones that stayed near the Animal Area were called Nicholas Cage.

During nighttime Kevin would hop up waaay up there in a pine tree, startling children walking underneath whenever they make a nighttime call. I had made a little game out of it; trying to find Kevin whenever he was in a tree. He was usually camouflaged too well among the branches and leaves but sometimes I would see the little jitter of his tail feathers.

The Animal Area was what it was called: an area for the animals of the camp. What we called the “Bird Aviary” housed many different species of birds: peacocks, pigeons, silkie chickens, and a lionhead rabbit.

The most valuable peacock we had was a half albino, half normal peacock, and he was settled in the Aviary. Prince Charming and his Princess, two albinos, were also in the Aviary.

When I was in China I grew up hearing the calls of peacocks day and night.

Most people wouldn’t expect there to be peacocks in China but for some reason there was a hotel that had peacocks in it.

Being at camp and hearing Kevin and Nicholas Cage cawing all the time brought a slight feeling of nostalgia.

After my five out of six weeks of camp was up I was told that the peacocks were actually called Kenny.

Why had nobody told me this earlier?

I had been calling them the wrong name for five weeks? But even the counselors called them Kevin!

I still call the peacocks Kevin. Old habits die hard.

Finals-Honestly, kill me now

So now the end is near huh? The semester is ending and people are cramming like some hung over college kid for the bar exam. It’s chaos on the hill, and really it all begs the question, “Who are we kidding?”

There’s no way in hell that this weekend is enough to prepare a student for an exam based on an entire semester’s information. People think that studying this hard for an exam is going to help them.

I’ve got news for all of you. You’re better off not studying at all at this point rather than try and cram. You’re just going to confuse yourself with facts. There IS such a thing as too much studying.

Some guys have been holed up in their rooms this weekend in order to study, only coming out to use the bathroom. They even bring their books in the bathroom to study some more.

Dude, seriously you’re not gonna learn anymore by taking your textbook into the bathroom. Give yourself a minute and a half to use the toilet and go back if u wanna.

I just don’t get the obsession to study like a maniac.

My roommate just told me a saying that his region of China lives by.

“If you have a small test, have a little fun. If you have a big test, have a lot of fun.”

Words of Wisdom from OVS.

Everyone just needs some time off.

Home of Soul.

I was lucky enough to have a chance to visit Lijiang with my parents this summer. And till now, I still believe that my soul has settled in Lijiang and it could not escape from there any more.

Lijiang, a popular destination in Yunnan,the southern part in China, is considered a fairyland blessed with fresh air, clear streams, breathtaking snow mountains and an undisturbed landscape inhabited by a friendly group of people. The Old Town there is graced by well preserved ancient buildings and the Naxi culture.

One of the most attractive feature is the way people live and the  mood of the city. I clearly remember the very first moment when I stepped into the Old Town which lied in the center of the city – the peace and comfort strongly flipped my heart.

The small-sized houses stand together to create an atmosphere of unity. The colors are mostly grey and dark blue that take people back to the past. People live in a slow  and leisurely pace. Most residents work as tour guides and the olds spend most of  their time dancing and singing. The whole mood of the town is peace but joy.

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