Risa B. (Alumni-E)'s Journal

Here it goes, the real truth, only the truth, and nothing but the truth about why I came to microcampus. The very first time that I even heard the word 'Microcampus' was at the end of exploratories assembly at the end of last school year, May of 2013. 16 kids were announcing that they would be leaving for a month to some village who's name I couldn't quite pronounce, and the first thing that came to my mind was, "They are so lucky!

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Today the extreme team said our goodbyes to the people here and finished up all of their work, or at least we are working on it. I will miss Xizhou, but I am not sad that I am leaving. Goodbyes are always hard, but if I keep my mind focuzed on what needs to be done, there is barely enough time to even tell our locals friends good bye. Because I have to start on my packing soon, this journal entry will be short, and my last. Tomorrow's will not be a normal one, it will be a summary of why I came here. Anyway, I'll write more later!

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My time in Xizhou is lessening. I only have 2 days left! I spent today in bed again because I felt a little sick yesterday but I am gradually getting better! I just don't want to feel sick on the bus or plane ride back home. I had the best night of sleep last night, for reasons that are still unknown to me. I was moved to the nurse's room at an effort to contaminate the virus because other girls were getting sick, so I brought my computer and book and sleeping bag downstairs, and got settled in.

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Today the only interesting thing was that we exchanged secret santa gifts. I gave Michael a fluffy pillow thing with a frog on it, and I got a light/anti static thingy majig from Vincint, also with a frog on it. Frogs must be in season. The rest of the day was pretty normal, work, work, then work on inquiry projects that are comming along. It kinda sucked because I got used to doing nothing and slacking off like on the weekend and yesterday. If you are following my journal posts daily, check out Day 12: Mr. Yang post, because I added a kick-ass picture!! I'll write tomorrow.

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The blackout continued through the night and went on for most of today, so Mr. T generously gave us the day off so we can stay safe, warm, and enjoy the snow! The first thing I did this morning to take advantage of this was go to bed and read (I know, what a waste!). Then around 10 Kara convinced me to go to the other linden centre because it is bigger and probably has more snow to play with. On our walk there, we made snowmen on tables and footprints on the snowy grass, and saw that for the first time, the ditches on the side of the roads were at use gushing with ice cold water.

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Today the extreme team experiences extreme weather that has not seen Xizhou in years, according to Annalise and Fay. It started around 5:20 pm as hail, then turned into rail, and then it started snowing. After about an hour, we found that the power had gone out and the whole village was having a blackout. Great. I wasn't there for the moment, but I heard from classmates that the reason they knew was because the guys ran out of the rooms screaming, "oh god! THERE"S NO WIFI!!!" I found that to be the funniest part of the day.

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So today wasn't pleasant... I had to stay in bed the whole day because I wasn't feeling well. My first sick day in Microcampus. I slept most of the day and got better. yay! I don't have so much to say though, because nothing too interesting happened to me. I'll write tomorrow!

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Today Marisa and I went to Zhoucheng with Annalise as our chaperone, and visited a tie-dye factory to work on our inquiry projects. After working for a while, one of the ladies was kind enough to bring us oranges. Annalise started to eat one, and I got a great picture of it:) Then I noticed that She looks totally different in the photo than in real life. In every single photo I took of her, her expression looked nothing like the face she was making in real life.

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Nooooooo! I don't want to leave. I have grown to really love everything about the Microcampus expirence, including the lectures and curfews and constantly texting T. The beautiful scenery and breathable air I will miss so much, but I will miss the people here and the bonds I have formed the most. Geeze, I know I still/only have 8 days left, but is it too early to start missing Xizhou? Anyway that's what's been going on in my mind today. I'll talk tomorrow:)

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Today was a day full of cramming. I did 3 hours straight of work just on my inquiry project because I needed to work on my 10 questions and start on me Phase 4. Oddly enough, I enjoyed it. I was sitting in the sun and felt very productive and proud of myself:P Anyway I still have my essay to write for Language Arts class and I still have to fill out a document for Social Studies all due tomorrow, so I better get right back to work. Some of the people in the group are going to go to Dali Old Town for dinner, if I work hard enough, I just might be one of them! Anyway, I'll post tomorrow.

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Lately when I go out to lunch, I can't find a dish that I want to eat since the variety is very little. Every time that I go out to lunch at Si Fang Jie, I walk past a lady who seems to be selling fried potatoe slices. Other people were buying them, so when I tried for myself, I found that I loved them. From that day forward, everytime I went out for lunch or service learning, I started buying a cup of fried potatoes with different spices: Curry, BBQ, Ketchup, Miso. Every single time I got a new flavor, it tasted better than the last.

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The Extreme team have triumphantly returned back from their journey up and down the Chang Shan Mountain Range, however the next morning wasn't so very triumphant. A lot of the people, including my cabin and I, woke up 10 to 15 minutes before breakfast, and were still very groggy and zombie-like at the dining table. The rest of the day went by like a blur and then I realized I hadn't gotten any work done on my Inquiry Project! *screeeaaams* I feel very tired and worn out from the hiking trip, and now guilty too because I wasted a day moping around. But, not to worry!

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Today's hike was probably the most dramatic. It was the hardest on our bodies, but somehow it took the least amount of time. The whole day we followed Yang Lao Ban, the owner of the temple where we were staying at back dwon the mountain, to the three pigotas in Dali. Even though most people didn't dare complain, the journey down was quite hard on our legs. When we suffered through the stuffy bus ride and trudge back to Yang Zhuo Ran, some were triumphant, some ran straight for the showers, some started hacking, and others collapsed in their rooms.

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Today we went on another massive hike, but we went up the same height as yesterday with half the amount of time because we have to get back down to where we are staying. The highest point we all got up to was 3200 Meters above sea level. It felt very nice and open, and the view was rewarding in it's self. Other than that, I saw some very beautiful flowers on the side of the trail. They were very small and hidden by fallen pine needles, so I wasn't able to notice them until I really opened my eyes and looked at the nature around me. It's amazing how much wisdom Mr.

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Today we got up to the temple 600 meters above the three pigotas in Dali Old Town, and reached our destination of the private temple we are staying near. After we got settled down Mr. T brought out the hack. Apparently, Mr. T started playing hacky sack over 20 years ago! We all learned the basic four moves and played in a hackesphere for an hour or so. It was really fun to know that we could all be a part of something so simple but epic. Little by little we got better.

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Today Cathrine and I ran through the streets of Xizhou at 6:56 in hopes of finding the cheese factory before 7:00. Thankfully we did, and we watched Mrs. Zhang milk a big, healthy cow. It was quite interesting. Anyway, right now I'm back home and working on packing for the dreaded hike. I'm trying to think positive thoughts, but honestly, I'm scared. I don't know if I will make it. If I do, I will right my next journal post on Sunday when we get back. Yes, I am going off-grid for three whole days-ish. Miss me! -Risa

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There are many 'Mr. Yang's in Xizhou. 'Yang' is an extremely common name here: however, this Mr. Yang is special. He is different from the other old men walking down Ran Yi Shang. If he sees you walking down the street, he will greet you and if you greet him back, he will start into a very long conversation about his experiences with past Microcampus kids. After about ten minutes of his lecturing stenched of alcohol, he will pull out his pictures. These are his memories that he keeps with him at all times. Some are new, some are very old, but all are his.

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Today we will go camping out for just one night as practice for the actual hiking trip on Friday, which I am super excited for!!! The sun has set already so it's already quite cold, and it will only get colder. We have to bike to the site in the dark over rocky paths, so I'm a little concerned that I'll fall over with such a heavy load on my back. Yes, my bag is very heavy. It barely fits my sleeping bag and ground pad along with extra layers of clothes. Anyway, if I make it back alive, I'll post a journal tomorrow;) BTW, the picture was taken the morning sfter camping out at the lake.

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I can't believe we have spent ten days here already. Time is going by so fast! I just recieved news that the fast and furious guy died:( In other news, the Extreme Team will be going on a three day hiking trip from Friday night. I'm so excited!! Hopefully we can have a practice camp out night before then, maybe tomorrow or Wednesday night. I think that i got a lot of work done in today's WIPPIT time, so I feel kinda proud of myself for that. I think I will end this journal post on that good mood, so I'll write tomorrow! Bye!

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So today was pretty much a do-what-you-want-day in terms of mandatory events in the schedules. I think I used my time pretty wisely, I learned how to play the C, G, A, and F chords on the guitar which still needs a lot of practice:P. Basically I hung around the house chillaxing and catching up on work. Nothing too interesting happened so far, so I have nothing to report that you feel you missed out on. Anyway I'll keep you posted on my next days of micro. See ya!! 

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Today the Extreme Team all took a bus over to Dali Old Town, where there are far more tourists and pick-pockets. We split up into small groups, I was with kara and Cathrine, and headed off to eat dinner and look around. My group chose a restraunt and ordered food, but once it came we could see that it was just terrible. On the pizza there were a few random ingredients that we didn't ask for and could not define, and the soup tasted very, very artificial.

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This morning, my whole cabin woke up late except for Kara who woke up at 6 to go jogging. When she came back, they were already serving breakfast, and the rest of the cabin sound asleep. We weren't  awake way after our usual curfew or anything, but for some unexplainable reason, we all woke up at 7:30. Mr. T gave us a long lecture after breakfast, and to make the day even worse, I was put on dishwashing duty for the day. Then at the morning meeting there was another long, long lecture about work comming in late. I felt like I was being crushed and picked apart by tiny pieces.

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I am really excited about today's evening activities. I don't know what it will be, but these past few day's activities have been very relaxing and fun, my favourite part of the day. In the past few days we have had movie nights, scavenger hunts and star gazing nights that I really enjoyed, so I'm really looking forward to todays. Happy Thanksgiviing! I wonder what my family and friends back home are doing for celebration, because we haven't done anything so far. It makes sence because we didn't plan anything, but I'm still sad we're not celebrating.

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Today we went to Zoucheng for the first time and visited two tie-dye factories, both family-run. At the first, we all stitched our own piece of cloth and then had it dyed. At the second, Abby, Mr. T and I saw in the yard of someone's house a place where ladys in aprons were washing newly-made tie-dyed cloths next to two titanic buckets of indigo dye. It was very fun. In the rooms upstairs we saw two rooms of storage full of just cloths with many designs and colors. I found a hot pink scarf so I bought it as a memory to the magical place.

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Today we had the usual schedule of Pitching In and WIPPIT time. I really love how I get to spend everyday with a new person in the group. Today Vanessa and I walked around the village going into cheese factories and talking to strange people working at shops in the market. It was really fun, and we both challenged our bravery by asking strangers about their name and history and whether we can take a picture with them. At Terrace Time which I spent with Vanessa again, we laid down on the floor of the terrace and stared at the clouds for a silent thirty minutes.

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Today the Extreme Team had a normal breakfast, normal SAS Essentials, normal Pitching In, normal lunch, and a very normal WIPPIT time. I had my first 3-5 with Mrs. Linden and went to the Linden Centre for the first time! Yay! Sadly they were under rennovation so I couldn't see all the rooms. Anyway, I'm really excited for our night time activity where we will learn about the stars and moon and everything pretty in the sky. :) I will check in  with the journal tomorrow! 

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Today the Extreme Team spent their first night in the place we are staying, called Yang Zhuo Ran. We saw everyone bright and early for breakfast, no slow-poke snails. After a tour, nice meal, and lecture by Mr. T on our inquiry projects, we officially became members of the International Star-Shaped Badminton Game. This is where a team of six people must pass around one birdy while chasing it. A lot of people crashed into eachother and slipped on little plastic cones.

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Today the Extreme Team arrived at Microcampus right befroe sundown. After a short flight and long bus ride we were welcomed by the Linden family and a comfortable-looking bedroom. On the journey here, we noticed a lot of things about our one month home. First, about the people. Everyone was around the same height, and everyone wore a lot of clothes and hats. We learned  lot about the geographic land just by looking at it. The mountains are always West and the lake (二海)is always East.

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I'm only one month away from leaving for Microcampus in November, and I just can't wait! However there's still a lot of work to be done before I am prepared to go on this trip, but I know that won't even matter when I get there and breath fresh air:D.

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I am half Japanese, half American, and I was born in Australia. I lived in Tokyo for most of my life, and then I moved to Shanghai in the summer of 2012. I've been working on my Chinese skills in hopes of being fluent in the language. After going to microcampus, I think that my confidence and skill has gotten a lot better than before, but still not good enough to be anywhere near fluent:) The Extreme Team has given the Lindens back their centre and Yang Zhou Ran, but a piece of every microcampus student will always stay there. Microcampus was a long and fun trip full or experiences I never thought I would have