Lily H. (Alumni-V)'s Journal

Last night, sitting on the star terrace looking at the sky, Aria F.Clark W.Austin Z. and I made a promise. At first it was sort of a joke when I held out my pinky finger to them, but now I take it very seriously. The promise was that the family that we all built here in Xizhou will last us.

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As most of the Voyagers already know, I like food very much. 

Today for lunch, I went to Old Town Snacks with Sarah R., Aria F., and Alex K. I went there two days ago and got Tafel fried rice while another person in my group got rice with egg and tomato. I love egg and tomato; so, the next day I went back and tried it. 

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We only have five days left, so I am making sure I appreciate everything as much as possible. 

The fresh air smells sweeter. 

The sky is looks more blue. 

The trees by Erhai look greener.

Editing my inquiry project feels less tedious and more interesting and satisfying. 

Er si at breakfast tastes better. 

The clouds look fluffier.

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I thought it was over. 

But no. 

It's back. 

I thought that I had reached the peak of stress when I did not have a service learning partner, but I was wrong. Today was day 2 of inquiry project final product work and I became super stressed about my work; however, this stress made me really productive and set me on a good path towards having my work done by Sunday at 10 in the morning.

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Spending 20 days with a group of people that you are not related to is truly a unique experience. 

Going into this, I thought everyone was being dramatic when they said that Microcampus created a new family for them; but it is not hyperbolized at all. 

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Today, Aria F., Sam B., and I cross-fit-ed all the way to Pessoa Cafe to get Aria the mysterious "Pink Drink" that our fellow Voyagers have been talking about. We saw a bunch of dogs as we waited for the fancy drink. Once it arrived, Aria let me try a sip. It tasted a lot like hot chocolate. I was more confused than I should have been about how they maintained the bright pink while still making it taste like a hot chocolate.

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Above is an unrelated photo of me in the canola fields.

Microcampus is a lot of things, but it really has not been too stressful. Our schedule is built so that we have time to do what we need to do while still having time to relax and experience Xizhou without the workload looming over us. I have felt very stressed two or three times in these 17 days, and one of those moments was today. 

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Microcampus is all about the connections we are making. Now, these connections are mostly focused around Xizhou and the people in it, but today I would like to write about a different connection that I have noticed.

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Yesterday, we went on a 6 hour and 40 minute hike through the mountains. As we hiked, a lot of thoughts were going through my head, such as: How many hours has it been? Am I really this out of shape? I'm hungry. Can we just slide down now? I think my feet are bleeding. Even though my feet hurt, very few things beat standing 600 meters over a town and looking down at everything. In the mountains, we were surrounded by the sounds of birds chirping and the wind rustling the leaves. After the hike, we took a bus to the campsite. Ms.

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Half. 

Day 14 marks the middle of our Microcampus journey. The point between a thirteen year old girl who has never left her family for more than a week and the thirteen year old girl who has been away from home for a month and has grown so much from it. The point between an immature 8th grader and a slightly more mature 8th grader. The point between the girl who could barely hold a conversation in Chinese and the girl whose whole project depended on that skill. The point between SAS Lily and Microcampus Lily. 

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Today, Sarah R. and I went for a walk around Xizhou. Because my topic is Love and Marriage, I wanted to take a few pictures of couples getting their wedding photos taken. It was really cool to see all these different pictures being taken. All of the dresses that the brides were wearing were all so pretty. We talked to one couple and they asked us to be in a picture with them. The weather today was really nice.

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Yesterday, I went out in Xizhou to talk to people taking wedding pictures in hopes of finding out why people come to Xizhou for wedding pictures. I only got to talk to two couples because, surprisingly, there were very few people taking wedding pictures even though I went out right before golden hour. One of the two couples I talked to were taking their own pictures instead of having a group of photographers. The lighting was really pretty so I was confused as to why we only saw two couples taking wedding pictures.

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Being in Xizhou has really opened my life up to two big changes: new friends and new food. Being away from the friends in Shanghai that I spend most of my time with allows me to get closer to people I barely knew or did not spend a lot of time with before. Though I miss my other friends, I am really happy that I have this opportunity to make new friends within the Voyagers group, but also within Xizhou. Microcampus has allowed me to go into a new place with new people and build connections I never would have otherwise made.

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Today, after sleeping an extra hour, we got to listen to Mr. T's lecture, "150 years of Chinese History in 150 minutes." Then we had lunch and headed out to start making connections and looking for possible service learning partners. Sam B. and I are planning to go to a shop that sells tea during our down time. Yesterday when we went, Ms. Fu (the lady who owns the shop) gave us tea with butter and walnuts and let us try a bit of rose jam that people mix with hot water to make a sweet, warm drink. 

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Today we went to the tie dye village called Zhoucheng for a half day trip. In Zhoucheng, we first went to a tie dye museum and factory. Then, we went to a different factory. At the first factory, we learned a lot about the history of tie dye. In the second factory, we learned about the indigo plant and the different colors that different plants make. The contrast between the deep blue and the bright white was very beautiful. Today was really fun; however, I am excited to sleep in tomorrow.

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There are many amazing aspects of Xizhou such as the scenery, people, and architecture, but right now I only want to talk about one: food. The food in Xizhou ranges from ma la tang to lollipops that taste like white rabbits, but my favorite food by far is baba. There are two options for baba, sweet or savory. The sweet baba is almost like a pancake filled with red bean and rose jam, while the savory is the same pancake filled with meat. As of right now, I have only tried the sweet one. I kept looking for opportunities to try Mr.

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Today was finally normal. We woke up and went through the schedule that we will be having for the rest of this month, finally giving us a taste of what exactly it is that we are here to do. The morning was filled with Photo Management organization and a couple troubles along the way. The good old Microcampus hard drive was struggling to keep up, so we had to find a new place to store all of the Voyager's photos. For obvious reasons, this was not the highlight of my day.

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After a normal morning filled with breakfast, SAS essentials (school work), and pitching in (cleaning room, committee work, etc.), I went up to classroom 2 to learn about heart rate monitors, lead by inquiry project work time. Then finally, we got to get ready for our bike ride. While putting on my neon orange, reflective vest, I felt a surge of fear. I know how to ride a bike, I just rarely do due to the busy city in which I live. However, I got on the bike and rode with the rest of the group.

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There are few sounds sweeter than the chime of a standard Nokia alarm at 6:50 in the morning. After taking a tour of Yangzhuoran and then the rest of the village, we split into fours for lunch at Sifang Jie and then headed back home. Later in the night, we got to walk over to the Linden Centre to sit on the terrace for still time. The view was amazing.

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Today, I got up at 7:00 to finish packing and eat breakfast before leaving for the airport at 8:30. This morning, a bit of sadness seeped into my excitement. I could not wait to get to Xizhou, but the idea of not seeing my family or friends for a month started to seem a lot more real to me. Once landing in Xizhou, we got on the bus to drive to Yangzhuoran. On the bus, Mr. T apologized for the bad weather, shocking me because it was much prettier than the vast majority of days in Shanghai.

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Ever since my brother left for microcampus, I've thought about the day that I'd leave home to go be on my own, either for microcampus or college, more deeply than I ever had before. You could categorize the thoughts I had into two parts, the worries and the dreams. In the worries, there would be the thoughts that I wouldn't be smart enough, strong enough, or responsible enough to live on my own. These fears were centered around the fact that I was a little kid dreaming of a teen or an adult's life.

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I was thirteen years old and had been living in Shanghai for five years when I went to Xizhou for Microcampus. During my time in Xizhou, I liked to make and listen to music, play soccer, write, and talk to my friends. I loved Xizhou's blue skies, delicious food, warmhearted people, and unique culture. I cannot wait to return to my home in Xizhou!