Harrison P. (Alumni-A)'s Journal

Today was quite an eventful day mixed into a dull one. It started out as a normal work day, work, pool, work, work, pool, etc. We were all with each other, talking and laughing, sharing stories, and doing our thing. It felt like we were living here all our lives, and that everyone around was like family. It was hard to believe it was all going to be over soon. We had our chat with the school Parent Coffee, which was quite intimidating. I felt like I was on paper thin ice, and trying to slide across a lake.

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Today was my official first taste of s'more. We'd grilled the marshmellows over a campfire, when I accidently set fire to my marshmellow about three times, and put them in with Graham crackers and chocolate. I probably had a thousand questions about the s'mores, including "what do I do now?" after I'd finished making it. The feeling of biting into a s'more for the first time really gave me the feeling of just what kind of program the Microcampus was. It was a program that gave us the chance to experience things we'd never done before, and finish things we'd never thought we'd start.

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Today was our nature restoration day, where we got our volunteer hats, our gloves, and our plastic bags, and went to the tongue of lake Erhai to do all we could to clean it up. It was strange how the first time we came here, I hardly noticed a thing, but after walking around, the ground seemed to be covered in garbage. Old plastic bags, bottle caps, cigarrette boxes, you name it. I think it was really interesting to see how the local school kids working with us sort of acted the same way as my friends back home, only they spoke in a different language.

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Today, the first thing I did was get the song "Sunday Morning" by maroon 5 stuck in my head. The same song was repeated over and over in my head, but it wasn't half bad. It helped me concentrate (somehow) on the work at hand, and I got caught up by 3:00, which was basically unplugged time. Afterwards, it was pool-marathon. I played so many different opponents (all that I lost to) that it was beginning to get a bit shameful. Then I faced a 9 year old staying at the Linden Center, which just made me feel guilty.

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Today was basically catch up day. We spent a lot of time working, and I felt really relaxed for some reason. All the work seemed to be doing itself, and it was like I wasn't even there the entire day, and my mind was on auto-drive. I seem to be having a lot of those days lately, and I think it may because of the routine that we so commonly follow when we're here. The day followed the routine of work-pool-work-pool again and again.

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Today was the first day after we had our 3 day 2 night camping trip. First thing in the morning was a 2 hour leisurly bike ride, which went surprisingly far. We went from a religious temple to an aquaduct to even a town square in the neighboring town. Some of the bikes were incredibly good and smooth, and some...... weren't. The entire bike ride was pretty easy going, and it was a good time to just phase out. We spent most of the time quietly, sort of phasing out while peddling. I think the feeling of biking represented a lot of things that came with the microcampus experience.

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Today started out pretty weirdly. The first thing we heard in the morning was Mr. Tafel's wake-up call, then the news of how we had to wake up 30 minutes early to pack up our tents and head down. So the first thing we did waking up today was being late for an appointment we didn't know we had. We had a pretty strange time with that, but at least I wasn't woken up to the unpleasant surprise of having a giant caterpillar crawl across my face. Yes, I'm an optimist. So anyway, we kept going with that, and eventually hiked down the mountain.

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Today is our only full day here at the camp site. We had a nice and easy morning wake-up, where I woke up with a caterpillar on my neck. That scared me. We spent the day with a short walk to the waterfall nearby, where we had a little time for quiet. We doubled back a bit, and then went to a path less traveled. It was covered by pine leaves (or whatever you call the leaves of the trees with pine cones and their leaves), so we all slipped a few times, and no one came out of it untouched it. That was a pretty long hike, and I felt like one mistake could be fatal.

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Our first day camping. First thing in the morning, we all woke up to go to Dali Old Town with our massive hiking bags and brought food supplies for  the two days that we were going to be camping, and took the bus to the base of the mountain that we were going to climb. When we got there, we got our bags prepared, and immediately started climbing. Now, hiking up a mountain with about 20 kilos of stuff on your back is not a good idea. We climbed up about 200 meters, but it was at a steady tilt, which pretty much made our legs feel like they were burning.

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Everything is finally back to normal. No parents, no distractions, just the good old routine that we're used to. Even though we were so adjusted to that basic day to day life, after the blast of "home" that came with our parents, we had a much harder time adjusting to our new "old" routine. We still managed to get the work done, and all of us were in a half mind between wanting to go home and wishing to stay. It was kind of like summer school, just a few days before it ends, and you're thinking to yourself- I want to go home quickly, but I don't want this to end.

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Day 15 of Microcampus was the final day of the Parent's weekend. Officially, parent's weekend ended up finishing at around noon, but there were so many parents intent on bringing their children to Dali old town for a short visit that the visit ended up getting dragged to 6:00. It was a nice feeling though, getting dragged out of "school" by our very own parents for a short break. I guess that says a lot about our parents. When we went to Dali old town, the first thing we did was visit the hotel.

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Today, everything was centered around parent's weekend. We finally took a break from everything that we'd been doing for the past 2 weeks, and really went all out on relaxing. The first thing we did was the Xizhou baba cooking class, which was probably the most disastrous and hilarious cooking class in history. It was weird how no matter how badly we made the Xizhou Baba, (a type of bread thingy that's kind of like the local pizza), other than the deformed shape and nasty look, it was always delicious.

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Today was our first day of our family visits. When the group of parents first arrived, I jogged out to the main entrance of the Linden Center like I did when I was 5 and coming back from school, and looked at each parent's face to see which ones were mine. As the faces kept going, I started to get anxious, and when they finally stopped, I eventually started to worry. Had she forgotten to visit? Did she wake up late and miss the plane? Countless worries until one of the Linden boys came up to me and asked me if my mom was coming on the 6 o'clock bus.

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Today was our first day of our family visits. When the group of parents first arrived, I jogged out to the main entrance of the Linden Center like I did when I was 5 and coming back from school, and looked at each parent's face to see which ones were mine. As the faces kept going, I started to get anxious, and when they finally stopped, I eventually started to worry. Had she forgotten to visit? Did she wake up late and miss the plane? Countless worries until one of the Linden boys came up to me and asked me if my mom was coming on the 6 o'clock bus.

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Today's trip to Lake Erhai to go fishing was canceled. Apparently, it's illegal to fish during non-fishing season, and it's non-fishing season right now. Strangely enough, it was comforting how we didn't have a 5 am morning wake up call, and words cannot describe the relief of eating our boxed breakfasts, that were packed for the bus ride to the lake, on the third floor of Yang's. Our schedules went back to normal afterwards, and we had our daily meeting, did our work, just like every day, until around 12, when we headed out to Zhoucheng to get to the tie-dye factory.

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Today was just another day at the Microcampus. Even though we'd ended up trying various small, new things, I doubt you'd be interested in my discovery of the incredibly delicious fried rice. I spent my time today working on inquiry work, researching and watching clips on certain issues of my new topic- Moral reasoning. To tell the truth, this topic is a lot more complicated than I could have imagined, and it's hard to put a finger on exactly what moral reasoning really is. Past that, we relaxed, did our work, and had our meals regularly.

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Today was our first quiz for the program. We all went off on our own and took the math quiz, which wasn't too hard. It was confusing, and our entire schedule was changed. It was hectic, but not as crazy as the day before. I loved how the atmosphere of test taking was so similar to the feeling of doing it in a regular classroom, at a regular school. We ended up faxing all the tests to our teachers, and hoping for the best. A few hours later, Dr. Sutton preform a magic show for us.

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Today was busy busy busy. We spent the entire day either at the Sha Ping area, (shopping area... happy coincedence) the Kindergarten, or in the movie room watching Dr. Sutton's "Hot Cities" movie. Kind of strange to be watching a movie when someone in the movie is next to you on the couch. Anyway, let's start at the Sha Ping Trip. There was a traveling market deal, and it basically had anything you'd think of, including rake handles. The fruits were all fresh, and we found plenty of things for our eyes to feast on (as well as our mouths).

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Today was a laid back simple Sunday. We got to go all over, do what we needed to do, and pretty much chill. It was really similar to the weekends back home, and the time we had reminded me of Shanghai. Call me crazy, but being in Yunnan is just like being in Shanghai, with a different background. Strangely enough, the pool games and pingpong matches in between hours really let our minds wander, and looking around, everything seemed like it'd been there all my life. It's really a strange feeling, and I don't know how to explain it.

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The weekend was probably the one thing that was closest to Shanghai here. You get a bit of work in here and there, but you still get a lot more free time than you need, most of which is spent staring into space. I was kind of behind on my work, and ended up having to spend time working on it, but to tell the truth, I spent a lot less time on it than I expected. It feels like I did so many things that I can barely count them all, but now that I look back on my day, I really can't think of anything notable I'd done.

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The highlight of the day was going to the Taoxi Tea Plantation. Other than that, there really wasn't anything that we did out of the norm, which I'd rather not bore you with. The tea plantation was about 200 meters higher in altitude, which meant that anything faster than a walk left you gasping for air. We'd spent a while picking tea, then had a hike even higher up the mountain. The climb itself wasn't too bad, but the high altitude and low oxygen made it near impossible to use much of our energy. It was worth it though.

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Today had a bit less insanity than the past few days. We'd spent so long in such a hectic atmosphere that we hadn't really come to sit back and really enjoy the place we were at. Today was spent with a little more down to Earth work time. Working on our math 2000 kilometers from our original school was a strange feeling, but I felt that the atmosphere was no different from our original math classroom. Even Science had the same feeling to it. If I were to 

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Today was our first day at Dali Old Town. I know when we say Dali Old Town, you immediatley think of a 1990s Chinese gangster movie, but that wasn't really the case. The place was nothing like I imagined. There was so much food that we'd missed (like burgers) and so many things to see that it was a treat for the eyes AND the nose. We spent the day getting cookies, taking a walk through a park, and getting a burger. (Bliss.) People say that you never know how much you love something until you've missed it. French friends? Definetly true. The day was spent in a sort of blur.

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Life is getting freer and freer. I'm not sure if that's a word, but if it isn't, it should be. It's really the only word to describe the escalating levels of freedom that we're getting. Our lives our getting more and more time for ourselves. Being our age, we pretty much don't do anything meaningful with that at all. Our down time, or free time, is more or less spent working on our projects and homework, or playing games in the rec room, like pool or ping-pong. While it sounds boring, the games are more to give us a bit of rest than to let us stave off work.

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Today was a lot more free than the last few. When we first got to Yunnan, it felt like every minute of our lives was planned. After the first few days though, we started to get in a couple minutes of free time here and there, occasionally even getting a game of pool (Billiards) once in a while. Today, we only got in about half a game, but I'm guessing that this pool table is going to play a big part of our lives in the next few weeks. Being the first weekday that we've been here, we managed to check in on schoolwork a bit, and maybe get in a few minutes of homework time.

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Day One was more scheduling and preparing for our lives for the remainder of the month. Daily schedules, exploration of nearby places, and even how to clean our rooms. All of these were set today, so that the rest of our month would no longer be spent in discomfort. It sounds boring, but most of the day was especially fun. Provavly the best part was when we went exploring. We had an especially long walk, venturing through the many curious places that would become a part of our lives in the next month. In the afternoon, we'd gone on a bike ride to Lake Erhai.

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I'm hungry. It's crazy. I think it might be because of the excitement of being halfway across china, but no matter how much I end up eating, I'm never even close to full. The food is delicious though. Other than that, this trip has been pretty normal. It's almost identical to the China Alive trip in most ways, including what we pack. The entire trip was almost 9 hours though, which sort of drove us stir crazy. It feels like we've already been here for forever.

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Hi. I'm Harrison. I've lived in China most my life, and haven't really gone anywhere else. Short vacations and camp trips are all I really have of living someplace outside of my cozy little home. As a result, I thought that the experience I could gain from living in Yunnan for a month, taking in the sight, living the life, would be the best thing I could do right now for my own experience.