Day 28: Why I Came to Microcampus
During the application process for Microcampus, we wrote why we wanted to attend. That was eight months ago. I stated reasons about getting out of the bubble and trying new things. I said that I had never done anything like this before, and thought it would be different and exciting. When I think back, I really did not know much about what Microcampus was like before comign here. I knew the basic just of it from Mr. Tafel's presentation, but I couldn't truly understand. Applying so early had an affect on me. It gave me time to develop this idea in my head of what it was goign to be like. I could not just sit there for eight months clueless of what it would look like and smell like and taste like and feel like, so I imagined it in my head. Once I arrived in XiZhou, all of those visions were swiped away, because I was actually here! After months long anticipation, this was it. I remember thinking that this was not what I had built up in my head, not what I had dreamed about, yet it was better.
I remember turning left at "The Most Dangerous Intersection in XiZhou" and then heading straight towards the Linden Centre. We had stopped for a minute to soak in the view, and that is exactly what I did. I soaked it in; the view was beautiful. I knew there would be fields, but the backdrop of the ongoing garlic fields, with the Centre reaching out into them, was amazing. All of us were ooh-ing and ah-ing and I specifically remember Mr. T saying to remember that feeling. He told us that usually people end up taking the views here for granted. I had thought that I wouldn't. I didn't necessarily stop knowing that those fields were beautiful, but I did stop thinking about it everytime a passed, a few times per day.
As our month went on, I remember smiling more than usual. I am a happy person, but I remember just looking at my wonton soup or the shoes lined up outside our door or the shoe repair lady and just smiling. I think this is because I know so many alumni and I cannot count the number of times they have said to live this experience to its fullest. They always talked about how fast it flew by and how they wish they had appreciated this or done that more. I decided to take their advice and often think about the once in a lifetime experience I was getting. A huge help to making each of our personal journeys here the best they could be was our group in general. I believe all of us worked hard and took care of each other, which lead to happy teachers, and as any alumnus knows, happy teachers means a happy you.
So here I am, eight months later, being asked the same question: why I came to Microcampus. Before hand, it was because I believed it would change me and open me up to new cultures, and maybe also because my friends had come and I wanted to experience it for myself. Now, I realize I came to Microcampus because why wouldn't I. I know that seems vague, but it is a real question I ask myself, or anyone. For a brief moment, a few months ago, I had gotten scared and considered not applying. My reasons were were not thorough and maybe just excuses to not be brave. I cam to Microcampus because it forced me out of my comfort zone. I came to Microcampus because I wanted to try something new and different. In the U.S. most people would say that moving to China is "new and different" enough, but there I am locked in a bubble, as Mr. T says. He is right. In Shanghai, I use Chinese only to get by, and I spend almost all of my time in expat communities. I am not saying that is a bad thing, because it is what I like and what is comfortable to me. However, in XiZhou, I was able to step out of that bubble and create experiences. In most places, someone must strive in order to create the types of things we went through here. Microcampus was made specifically to give us these opportunities. I could have chosen to not take up those chances, to let the opportunities pass, but that is not why I came to XiZhou. Although my view point of my journey has done a full 360 since the application process, I realized I am here for relatively the same reasons. I got out of the bubble, I tried new things, and it was different and exciting. I used self-discipline and took care of myself for a month, I learned the life stories of strangers, and I even conquered myself by climbing a mountain. I know that for whatever reasons, coming here, to XiZhou, to Microcampus, was the right choice, and I will not regret it for a day in my life.