Noah S. is currently a senior at SYA China and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. He comes to SYA from Robert Louis Stevenson School in California.
I sit in the living room of my home in California with my feet up on the coffee table and Jazz Classics by Spotify playing. I think to myself how did I get here?
From the past few weeks I have learned that life has its way to take you places. Even when you have plans that you believe will bring you somewhere you want to be, life can take you places you’ve never been, thus show you things that you have never seen.
During the period of Chinese New Year (春运) I traveled to Hebei province with my host family. Already, everyone wore masks, people went outside less. There was something going on; everyone was on edge. After arriving in Hengshui, the situation seemed to worsen. Everyday I would stay in the house with my host family playing Mahjong, watching the news, movies, and eating snacks just to do something. Although everyone was bored it was the perfect type of boredom that brings people together. The time I spent with my host family, cocooned within my host grandmother’s house, will be a period I will always remember.
Although there was a lot happening in terms of the future of SYA China 2020, I used this uncertainty to cherish my time with my host family. When I made dumplings (饺子）for the last time with my host family, I felt the warmth of the people who created a truly memorable experience for me. My host grandma joked and laughed while my host mom rolled the dough out quickly and efficiently. I looked down at my 饺子 noticing how it curved on the edges like the curve of the moon and the smile on my face. It felt bittersweet appreciating my happiness and accomplishments in China while also saying goodbye to it all so suddenly.
On the 31st of January, I was the last SYA China 2020 student to leave Beijing. Upon my leave, my host family told me that they would welcome me back upon my return. Nothing describes the pure kindness these people held to welcome me. Even through tough times, they extended their feeble hand to someone who needed it. There are no words to thank them for their efforts.
A few days before, a student in the SYA China male student group chat sent a text telling us he had cried. In a few minutes, all of the guys had started to confess that they too had cried from the sudden leave. It goes to show that at SYA we have friendships that surpass social constructs. Being abroad propagates these friendships as our perspectives on what is right and wrong are challenged. I learned that the only way to really appreciate everything is to stay in the moment and be yourself. The boys at SYA felt comfortable being themselves and giving in to building and supporting each other. For this, I can never explain the close connection I now have.
I swam in my brain for almost the entirety of the short flight to Osaka. Still, I swim in my thoughts. I replayed the moments back at school, on those couches in the library, in the hallway with the lockers, and in the teachers’ office cracking jokes with our Resident Director, Mr. McLoughlin. On the last day at SYA China 2020, we celebrated two students’ birthdays. We simply had no idea at this time that the program would be ending so suddenly. In some ways this was our parting celebration, a moment of innocent positivity to end without acknowledging the true end of our time in China. It almost felt poetic realizing that we had ended it with smiles saying 再见 (see you again!) instead of goodbye.
So I would like to say: To the 26 other students, 再见. To SYA teachers and faculty, 再见. To High School Number 2, 再见. To Beijing and to China, 再见.
For the students applying for the upcoming year, I would like to extend my highest recommendation for you to let everything go for an experience unlike anything you have felt before. Even from my short five months in China, I have changed to become a more purposeful and understanding person. Although I haven’t experienced the full year, my short time has been unforgettable and truly worth my efforts. In complete honesty, if you look to have a valuable experience please consider China.
Look out for the next post! (Hint: It may be from Italy?!)
- Campus Reporters
- SYA China