Nicole L. (Alumni-O)'s Journal

The biggest question for Microcampus students: Why did I come here? Why did I head out into a random village for a whole month with no one I know? Why? For me, that's a little complicated. I didn't have a huge "life-changing" reason for doing this. In fact, honestly, part of the reason I wanted to come was to escape school for a month, since being new at any school isn't a pleasant experience, even though that was one of the reasons Mr. T said not to come. But the bigger part of the reason I came was just because it sounded cool. I knew it wasn't a vacation, but I still wanted to go.

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March 31, 2016. Day 27. Last full day of Microcampus. I cannot. Believe. We'll. Be. Alumni. In. 2. Days. I remember the trip to the airport and packing as vividly as if it were yesterday. I remember being so excited and now it's all going to be over, and I'm returning to my daily overpacked, busy, dull, normal, life. I've got so many new memories on this trip that I'll remember for the rest of my life. Today has been our last everythings, and everyone is so sad.

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Mr. Zhao, our Service Learning partner, did not make it to our Service Learning (click on link for my final project)  presentations today at the Linden Centre at 3 pm because he was not feeling well. We were really disappointed, but pretty worried about Mr. Zhao too, since he said he was going to the hospital. We shared the video with the other groups and their Service Learning partners, though.

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March 29, 2016. Day 25. Today from 9 am to 8 pm, we have no water and electricity. At least, that's what Jake told us, but after a 2 minute power outage where everyone was panicking because there was no wifi, nothing seems to have happened yet. But at Old Town Snacks during lunch, they didn't have power either, so I guess it was a town-wide power outage. I wonder why they would do that. Anyway, today we had Mr. T's "Pearls of Wisdom" for Service Learning, and it was just like Inquiry, but less stressful since the whole group was working on it.

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March 28, 2016. Day 24. Today was a relaxed day, because after our first Inquiry Project review, our focus shifted to Service Learning. There was still some Inquiry work to be done, but there weren't any immediate deadlines, so I felt a bit better. I also got to see one of Mr. T's secret talents: pool. After lunch, a crowd gathered outside to watch Mr. T take on a student from our group.

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March 26, 2016. Day 23. Today's the day our Final Products are due for review for Mr. T's "Pearls of Wisdom". In fact, they're due in exactly 2 minutes. It's no surprise that most of the day was spent on Inquiry Work. My product ended up being 11 minutes long, which is almost twice the length of the recommended length, but I'm too lazy to go change it. In fact, I've been staring at a computer screen for about 5 hours today already, and my eyes hurt. I spent an hour on Wellness Reflection and around 3 or 4 on Inquiry and other work.

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 March 25, 2016. Day 22. Yesterday was another work day, filled with Inquiry Project work for me (I literally spent hours and hours and hours on it). So I guess the highlight of the day was Max's birthday. I think he's the first and only birthday to happen during Microcampus. During the day, we all prepared in secret, and had to stay in the third courtyard so he wouldn't see us.

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March 25,2016. Day 21. Tonight will be Mr. T's all-star whizbang super duper trivia bowl and our work groups are our teams. Each team is required to have a secret theme and a name, and I'm really excited to start the activity since I want to know what the big deal about it is. Besides that, we visited our Service Learning partner (we finally settled on one, Mr. Zhao, owner of the old Flying Tigers site) . He's a really unique man and I'm glad he agreed to work with us. Mr.

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March 24, 2016. Day 20. Today is our first day for working on our Final Products, and Sunday will be our last. Nothing much has happened today, but yesterday night was really exciting, because we got to visit Dali Old Town, and I didn't have time to talk about it in my other journal post.

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March 23, 2016. Day 19. I think we've gone into that period where there's 2000 tasks to complete and only a week to do it. So, obviously there's Inquiry Project (more on that later), and we also have Pitching In (today was my dish duty/video shoutout day), SAS Essentials (assignments in all 4 subjects, and specials subjects), and Service Learning videos (due in exactly a week). Anyways, today, we completed an entire Phase in one sitting.

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March 22, 2016. Day 18. Today's a big day--it's the last day we get to do Phase 3 work, which is the main portion of the work we're researching in this village. I'm going to try to pack as much information as possible into my head. Then, I'll move onto the next Phase, and my Final Product. It's all moving so fast. I can't believe we're returning to Shanghai next week.

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March 21, 2016. Day 17. It's our second-to-last day for gathering information for Phase 3, and everyone's rushing around trying to think of how they can compile the most information in the 2 hours we're given today. In an hour, I'll be going with Ms. Mai to Old Xizhou to find out more about what Xizhou could possibly become in the future (overrun with tourists). Even though it's called 'Old Xizhou', it was recently built in an attempt to lure in tourists.

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 March 20, 2016. Day 16. I can't believe I haven't dedicated a journal entry to food yet, so here it is. In the 16 days that I've been in Xizhou, the food has never once disappointed me. Most of the restaurants here are located in Sifangjie (SFJ) the central town square in this village. A Microcampus favorite is Old Town Snacks, run by the lovely Mrs. Zhao. I've been to Old Town Snacks for the past 3 days in a row, and literally every meal you'll find a Microcampus group eating there. One of the student favorites there is Tafel fried rice, which, yup, is named after the one and only Mr.

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March 19, 2016. Day 15. Yesterday was the day after the hike, and everyone was kind of recovering, so it was really relaxed. After getting up at 8 am for the first time in weeks, I had breakfast, and then Pitching In. It was my third daily video shoutout yesterday too (filmed with Justin C.) but I had problems with the video portal that I'm still trying to fix right now. Other than that, we had 3 hours in the afternoon to interact with possible Service Learning partners. We went to Mr.

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March 18, 2016. Day 14. Today was a pretty eventful day. First, it was the "Big Hike", which took our group over 4 hours. We hiked up Cangshan Mountain, and back down, around and around. The scenery was stunning, but I had to be really careful not to fall off the sheer cliff face a mere 2 feet away from us. At about 2:30, we arrived at the Jade Belt. The uphill trek was so exhausting.

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March 17, 2016. Day 13. Happy St. Patricks Day! I totally forgot about it until right now, and nobody's pinched me yet. I guess it's not really a thing here in China. I haven't seen any short green guys with pots of gold anywhere yet :). It's also community service day, where Chris from the Linden Centre organized an event where we all go outside and pick up trash.

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March 16, 2016. Day 12. This afternoon, Maya K. and I visited Mr. Wang the bamboo basket weaver. He was really kind and interesting, and answered all my questions. Surprisingly, he liked life under Chairman Mao's rule, which was different from how I expected it after Mr. T's history lesson. Besides that, I learned about how Mr. Wang's family has been in the basket weaving business for generations, and how he's the village's representative for bringing baskets to Dali to sell. Mr.

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March 15, 2016. Day 11. It's currently right after the daily meeting. It's been a hectic few days, with everyone trying to do better and reach the high standards set at Microcampus. Our evening activities for this whole week have a "2-person rule" meaning only 2 people are allowed in one room after 7 pm. I spent evening activity yesterday with Maya K, and played my first game of billiards (pool). It was pretty fun, but I was kind of bad at it. I hope by the end of this trip I get slightly better. 

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March 14, 2016. Day 10. Mr. Tafel always told us before the trip that usually students have a "Honeymoon Phase", the first few days when everyone is excited and happy to be in a new environment. This excitement generally fizzles out as we realize we're on our own, and how much responsibility we have. I guess the OREOs have reached the end of our Honeymoon Period. Yay. I always believed everything would go smoothly on our trip, that we would be the exception, and that we wouldn't have any dips. I don't know why.

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March 13, 2016. Day 9. I guess the highlight of today was bacon. That sounds kind of weird, but everyone was just glad to be back at the Linden Centre, with the functioning toilets and warm mattresses. This morning, I woke up from a fitful night of sleep due to the raging winds and rocks under my back. Everytime I woke up in the middle of the night (1 am, 5 am, 6 am) I would think the tent was collapsing on top of us, and when it was finally time to leave, I was more tired than ever. Back at the center, there was a surprise. Bacon for breakfast!

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March 12, 2016. Day 8. Yesterday was pretty relaxed. In the afternoon, we had a two hour long history lecture about Chinese history in the last 200 years. This was to hopefully learn about events that were happening in China when our potential Service Learning partners were younger. Names and places and events mentioned were Mao Ze Dong, Deng Xiao Ping, and the Long March. The history lesson was, surprisingly, not that boring.

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March 11, 2016. Day 7. First of all, I can't believe it's already been a week since the beginning of Microcampus. Time flies. I know Mr. T always says to make the days count, not count the days, but it's just impossible when you feel like you've just arrived yet it's already 1/4 through the trip. As an end of the week treat, we got to go on a half day trip to either the tie dye factory or wind farm. However, it was looking pretty gloomy today and everyone ended up going to the tie dye place since there were rainy forecasts.

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March 10, 2016. Day 6. After returning from my first video shoutout ever (made with John K.), I came upon the phantom room inspector from the International Association of Room Inspectors Federation Association Organization (Mr. T with a badly worn beanie on while singing opera) and was fortunate enough to witness the first room inspection. The first boys room got a grand total of 0.1/5 stars, which was impressive.

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March 9, 2016. Day 5 of Microcampus. Two days ago, we learned how to use heart rate monitors for wellness, and our requirements for each week. It made me feel fancy using one of those cool devices with the complicated settings and modes. It turned out to be really hard to get in the training zone for 30 minutes at a time, 3 times a week. I went on a bike ride for an hour and a half yesterday, and the two students I went with ended up racking up a grand total of 28 & 16 minutes, and those were one of the better times.

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So far, today has been pretty uneventful. It's our first day after Mr. T's "orientation" period, so it's our first time managing our own day. Needless to say, everyone is really nervous about it, but it hasn't been too bad. I think everyone is being really responsible right now, and no one wants to fall behind. It's a good feeling. One of the purposes of this trip was to make connections with the locals, but so far it's been 4 days, and very few of us have made any connections. It's so difficult to just walk up to random people on the street and be like "Hey, sup, how's life".

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March 7, 2016. It was the first normal 'weekday' of Microcampus today. We got to go on a bike trip with Mr. T in the afternoon, and it was definitely the highlight of the day. After a long safety presentation about staying in 'the C position' and being predictable, we hit the road. The streets were really narrow, and at first I was super nervous, since there were horse carts right next to me, and Mr. Tafel told us about a kid who got bitten by a horse. I had to bike over patches of horse poop, which wasn't that great.

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Today was our first full day in Microcampus, and it was extremely busy. Some of us got up at 6 am to see the sunrise on the terrace, and it was peaceful and serene, the only interruption the occasional cawing of roosters. We then toured the Linden Centre, and then Old Xizhou, the part of Xizhou relatively untouched by tourists, and the part most locals live in. Mr. T also told us about the 'New Xizhou' built in recent years, designed to attract tourists. That area sells colorful garments and embroidery, but I learned that it's actually not real Yunnan culture.

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Yesterday was the big day--the day when me and the eleven other "OREOs" left Shanghai and arrived in Xizhou. The plane ride was 4 hours long, and almost the entire day was spent on transportation, leaving everyone cranky and irritable. After the one hour bus ride to Xizhou from the Dali airport, we lugged our hiking bags, backpacks, and 20 kg suitcases all the way to our new home. However, when we finally arrived at the Linden Centre in the evening, Xizhou's beautiful environment was a huge contrast to the muggy skies of Shanghai. According to Mr.

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Yesterday night was our lock-in/overnighter for Microcampus. I made a reflection video about the lock-in, including some goals for the trip, and you can see it here. (Link will be posted in a few days) Thank you!

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Hi, I'm Nicole, and I'm from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I moved to Shanghai in 6th grade, and I'm so glad I decided to join SAS's Microcampus program. I was part of the 15th group O.R.E.O. to go to Xizhou, and I still remember the kind villagers and fresh air. I just left Xizhou and everyone's already missing it. I hope one day I can come back to visit.