Jacob R. (Alumni-W)'s Journal

Springtime in Shanghai was drowned in April rain. A mist veiled over the city in a suffocating melancholy too empty to grasp. Such times seemed to force the suitcase to stand and for the people to rise, dreaming of escaping in a confined space that all already know too well, or perhaps not well enough, but nevertheless, the thought of exploration appeared futile. The rivers of tears failed to flow to sea, and everything of negativity percolated positivity until it all became too toxic to breathe, to think, to live in. 

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The morning sun stung my eye from completely opening, and everything remained in the minute slit that's fragmented by eyelashes. Limited vision forced me to seek for something afar, and soon, the memories of past and visions of future obtained conciouses of their own and seemed to tamper my thinking about the present. Time blurred and the acts of moving seemed to have lost its meaning. Everything seemed to become the things I've lost and will lost, positivity rested in a distant state of mind.

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The dining room was arranged to have two rows of wooden benches along the walls, an aisle between like a church, leading up to the projector on a wooden table that became the podium. The elders sat in front, students sat in the back, teachers standing in the back. An old man or two sat at the doorway, listening to the videos play, sighing while smoking. 

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The day was spent indoors so perfectly, as if created to serve this purpose. Perhaps the burden was meant to be carried inside, and all the screaming and frustration meant to be kept inside, to avoid inconvenience for any other. 

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The rain poured more often these days, with stronger velocity and strength, crushing the canola field under its ruthless crashing. Yet through the fields, below roofs, men and women still stood, dressed in a generic red and gold, taking wedding photos that perhaps they thought was more romantic under the rain, but from a stranger's eyes, it was just two fools and a cameraman on the side, stroking his stubbly beard that wavers on the edge of disappearance. 

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The switches responded with darkness, the water turned cold. The blue morning light shown mildly through the silk curtains, fragmented like strands. 

The weight light pressured upon my eyes was then lifted, made it light enough to not feel the layers of things, for they all became muddled, as the layers conjured, and became the other. 

Night fell, yet the lightness of lightless never seemed to part through the dark. 

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Gears cranked as the sun falls, as if behind the building, as if to make an explosion, yet all that came was the gentle breeze that sends a coldness that shatters one's spine. Cats and dogs seemed to be fighting in the alleys. A distant alarm rung. The world seemed to twist outside the walls into something too insane. Like an ancient Vegas, with its people and what it once was, crumble to dust, for the rectangular papers people call life. 

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As the sun rose, I heard something inside, sink; an emotion perhaps, with a weight that competes the heaviness of the sun's rays. It remained there in realms of confusion, but I was too bothered with other matters to care for such ambiguity. 

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The colors of clouds faded to an overwhelming purple then pink then blue then navy then black. The prayers rung out of the mosque in a sudden fashion that no one shuddered in surprise for. The chanter's sound sounded coarse, possibly sixty, with a dotty white beard and wrinkles climbed around his face. He sounded like tears yet the place seemed too still for such passionate emotions.

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The thunders crashed as the sky graduated from blue to white to grey, and back to white again. The rain felt like willow and sounded like spring, all so gentle and somewhat warm. A whooshing rung from the courtyard; if one was to get out and see, it was the sound of glittering rain was sent near and far by the blue ropes that lost their shapes in the process of circling. The melancholy of rain and the explosion of thunder seemed to keep everything in a tight within the compound, near yet far, loud yet soft, laughing, when the sky was tearing. 

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The fields unfolded behind the column of trees, behind it was the school building, white yet painted with a hint of orange under the afternoon sun. He was near the grey marble stairs, waiting. His hair was short and black and dotted with white, right eye slightly bigger than the left and black-rimmed glasses slightly worn of its color. Hard to imagine him as a young man of eighteen or less, what he did, how he talked. Yet the passion of youth still remained in him as seen with the words he said and the steps he took, across the field, towards us. 

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The moon-white walls twisted under the dusk sun while we sought for a red door. One door perhaps small or large or ruby or pink, unclear like all else this lazy Monday afternoon. All that remained clear was that it was supposed to be an antique shop, and inside was a man named Mr. Du. Yet with every step further, reason continued its collapse in this unfamiliar world, directions lost and seemingly found, yet eventually fades like a distant desert mirage. 

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The sun above hid behind clouds while I sat below reading in its dim veiled lights. The words appeared to stretch with the pages. The book seemed to be stretched by time. After a while, I wasn't sure if it all changed or not. The day seemed to be too lazy to maintain its usual rules. All that remained was the loneliness white colored clocks ticking in the distant kitchen, and the people that were moving at the other end of the grey colored courtyard, in and out. 

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As we lowered into the tree-covered lower valley, the nearby bushes threatened with their purple thorns and the beasts seemed to lurk in some unforseen bush. The season seemed to change with the color of rocks, the texture of soils and the temperature of lakes, adding to the surrealness of seeing the world through my sweat-dripping eyelashes. Everything, everybody, appeared to be falling at a speed that nature wasn't capable of following, and the starting point distanced, at a speed the hearts of youths couldn't bear of losing. Romanticists died under the afternoon approaching summer. 

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As the tents were rid of their lights, the stars above seeped through the veil of night and clouds in a swift and silent fashion. The moths flapped their wings to their destined incineration and the wingless men feared of the crowded sky which appeared to be close to falling. Below the stars, an edge above lake, the night time white lights shone ashore, leaving an emptiness to the world between the two, leaving my dim eyes in a desolate solitude, at a state too cold to blink, at a time too early to sleep. 

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The incense slipped through the doors of the temple which hung ajar. It distinctified itself from the tobacco in the nearby man's hand. A group of old women were inside, sitting under a shade, talking on a couch that was dusty and broken with age. She stood at the edge of the couch, with the other women who's ages were from 50-60. Her hair was sparse, but faintly brown. Her voice came out, sometimes like a cry, and the glow in her eyes, sometimes like tears. 

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A hard wind blew today, intertwined with a slight rain that continued. Dust covered the streets in a veil of yellow ashes, sky grey dark. The shop was at the corner of a t-intersection, with the first floor centered by a mahogony table and surrounded by antiques laying about. He stood at the second floor, five steps up, smoking with two older men, watching a movie on an old block-looking television. His hair was short, showing the contour of his round head and high cheek bones.

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Pouring then drizzling as the clouds come and go. The unfamiliar rain brought the sky a different shade of blue and the clouds another grey. The village shone with sun, cried with the moon.

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Blue letters were written on the whitewashed walls which surrounded a marble tiled square, centered by a maroon and green colored mosque atop of a long flight of stairs. A man and a woman washed their clothes in a green basin in a triangle of shadow that contrasted day. Everything seemed to radiate a ray of the sun, even the eyes of the man and woman, who smiled as we entered. 

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Smoke was the air, bundles of incense burnt at spots steps away from each other. The place was quite desolate, somewhat abandoned. Its parking lot was a field of white and the rebuilt temples looked lifelessly bleak like moonlight on white walls. Behind it all were three women, then two, four, that seemingly came out of walls. Their laughing filled the barren land with a hint of life, but that contrasted to the patches of dead white grass behind just increased the melancholy of it all. 

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El tiempo en Microcampus pasó muy rapido porque las diás estan muy organisada. Los estudiantes fueron a hablar con los gentes viejos de Xizhou para estudiar una topica specifica de escogió. Yo estudié la historia de Xizhou, y pregunté mucha de las dias con cambios para la politica del gobierno local y global grandes. Tengo muchas ganas de estudiar mas en el segundo semana.

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She sat under the shades before a silver store, sewing the shoes of a young child. She wore a jade bracelet that's mostly white, had a mouth of teeth that's jagged and yellow, and a skin that's dotted with dark brown spots. Her lips were perhaps all red once, but now half turned into a darkened pink that's dry-cracked like desert fields. Her smile looked painful, for it seemed to be ripping up old scars and moving the wrinkles that were once so tightly closed. Yet she still did, when my workgroup and I arrived.

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He slapped his cards on the carpeted floor, made it tremble like wood. He wore a green army cap, below that, a scattered line of black beard dotted with white crawled at the edge of his face, which lodged within long lines of wrinkles. Man of the forest, the words sprung to mind, not quite knowing why. Jade and amber rings the size of his joints covered his fingers. The rest of the hoarded antique shop was reflected in such transparent minerals, in different shades of age. 

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He flicked the lighter, the flame turned blue on the edge of the torch then formed into a sword-like shape. His body leaned in and his other hand placed forth of the string of precious metal. The fire touched gold and turned it red, forcing it onto the edge of melting, and yet his hands' movements remained calm and swift with no shiver nor gulp. All this happened on a burnt metal plate with flaky crusts in a store at the end of the wet market.

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The streets became familiar over time, or perhaps it was my lack of exploration that made them so. I ate at the same two neighboring restaurants for three days, saw the same people walk up and down and in and out. The same shrieks from upstair dorms, the same birds that chirp and the same alarm that rings and never stops...The shivering stopped a little, perhaps proving that I was just nervous all this time before.

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The clusters of desolate branches hung low, weak, somewhat in the mud lands, somewhat in sea. From this perspective we saw, after a bike ride through the villages, Er Hai (洱海) looked much more desolate. The tides that should display the nature's flow now resembled the flailing pale arms of a lifeless young man. The tidal wind swayed the sprouts lightly rooted in plastic sand like the autumn wind sways a brown willow which never grows nor goes. Nature's soul collapsed in the sand and yet still stranded ashore.

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There's a certain connection Xizhou has with nature, one of support yet not of interference. Gusts of sunset wind blow and grey clouds loomed from the mountains, and yet women still wandered about in the canola fields with their teel colored dresses swaying in the wind like moving willow trees. Doors became veils and clothes became silk, skins thinned onto the edge of nothingness, human existence on the edge of environmental integration.

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We arrived at the airport at ten, a light fog veiled over the city, a drizzle fell. My eyebags hung heavy, didn't have much energy to talk, and watched the others smile from a distance as I matched their footsteps which seemed three steps too fast. The crowd fixated a quarter of their attention onto this strange mass of students that resembled most likely seemed to them, like foreigners and strangers. 

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Microcampus had been a name that hung by my ear for all the years I have been at SAS, and now that I am finally about to participate in this amazing program, I am very excited for the future only a few months away. Though there are fears like not being able to attend classes and not able to stay in my normal place of comfort, I believe I will conquer such fears very quickly.

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I'm fourteen years old and was born in America, Minnesota. However, my family moved to Shanghai when I was 1 year old, after that, I have lived in Tianjin for a while, then moved back to Shanghai. The days at Xizhou had been very memorable and taught me a lot, I will certainly return to visit at times in the near future.