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On birthdays…

February 26, 2012

So, I celebrated my birthday this weekend. I do not feel very happy about growing one year older, but perhaps I can accept becoming wiser. Sharing goals publicly is a great way to increase the likelihood of finishing them, so I will let readers in on what I am thinking:
By the ways, I am wearing a scarf in the photos- one of the master’s students has the same birthday (she is Korean and my unnie, or elder sister) and so we celebrated together!

– I would like to earn respect through hard work, be it from the Chinese or the US side. The cultural differences definitely make different actions and personality aspects more important than others for each society. I would like to understand and be able to move even more fluidly between my two cultures.
– Eating better and exercising more. I think this is definitely one of the top priorities for any person, regardless of culture. Surprisingly, Chinese are utilizing gyms more frequently than they did five years ago when I first visited China. For me, the food here is not bad, but it still takes some getting used to. I would like to be able to find healthy choices among both the local Chinese food (which does have a problem of excess food additives), and the limited foreign food (which is expensive and often limited to not so healthy baked goods). As for exercise, I am taking on dance, which is a new pastime I started after graduating, as well as my college staple of yoga and my high school love of running. I would also like to spend some time each day playing the piano 😉
– Stop procrastinating. I have come to realize that I often put off things because I fear them. But as FDR said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. I need to break through the barrier of fear and just do it!
I have no plans to step behind, and I promise to do my best and learn as much as I can in my remaining time abroad (thank you again Light Fellowship)!

To respond to the blog prompt- I think that the ideals for beauty in China are extremely different from that of the US: whiteness is valued, and women buy all kinds of creams and even take shots (?!) to become ‘whiter/paler’; almost every person here would be considered underweight or below average by US standards (weight loss advice generally says not to eat dinner), and my roommate advocated putting saran wrap on my legs while exercising to make them ‘shrink’. I never realized how much I appreciated not having my looks commented on by strangers in the US.

On another level, I do feel that the Center provides a somewhat Westernized environment, and the Chinese professors have learned to teach in an American fashion- even the Socratic method is employed, which makes for interesting discussions.
We just picked classes this week, and I can tell that I will enjoy them, especially my Ethnic Minorities class (I am actually partly an ethnic minority), who has the crazy lovable type of professor that is a bit tangential but very knowledgeable.

I still can’t get over my birthday. Alas, I shall be forever 21 in my heart, whatever my real age may be.

On a side note, I visited Yuhuatai, a historic place in Nanjing with a depressing history

Park that was Guomintang place for killing Communist party members in the 1950s

Temple at Yuhuatai<a

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