its not all fun and games sometimes, and that is ok

January 2nd 2022 9:56 PM

大家好! 圣诞快乐! 新年快乐!

This last week has been very busy. Busy enough that I forgot to submit my last blog for review!

Last week was Christmas, which was very different and interesting. It was hard to be away from family, however. This was the second year in a row in which I have not been able to spend Christmas with my parents. Though this trip has been an absolute amazing experience, the reality is that sometimes we need to make sacrifices to chase our dreams. Learning languages takes time, and though I would have loved to go back to Colombia Tierra Querida, it made more sense for me to come improve my language abilities.

But for every opportunity we are given, we must give up something. It has been difficult growing more accustomed to the colder and more quiet nature of Aotearoa given the fact that I have partly grown up in a culture that encourages noise and energy, but that is nothing compared to Tainan. I am not unaccustomed to being stared at for randomly dancing, humming, or expressing my energy in musical ways, however, here is seems that any movement is largely considered strange, making it even more strange and frowned upon to randomly dance on the street.

It was difficult to have a holiday that is centred around family, and see my close family have dinner, a dance party, and spend time with some of my favourite cousins until the early hours of the morning when I was scarcely given time to have a Christmas picnic with my favourite group of PMSA Scholars. We had a 报告 the day after Christmas; I personally was feeling very tired, and I had lost a lot of motivation. The brain is interesting, because despite knowing that I chose to apply to come here, the mass of neurons that is technically writing this decided that it was going to bring nostalgia.

The sadness of spending Christmas away from family was replaced by hard memorization of the 报 告, impromptu dancing in the middle of Tainan Park, laughter, Secret Santa, and the start of our Instagram Takeover!

The day after was presentation day, which I hated. I see the value in memorization, but I am unable to present in English, never mind Chinese. It went well though, and as soon as I finished my class, we were off to learn about the Tea Ceremony! If you know anything about me, which you probably don’t unless you are my parents (In which case: ¡HOLA PADRE, HOLA MADRE, LOS QUIERO MUCHO!) then you know that I absolutely adore tea. This turned my entire mood around, got rid of my 报告 stress, and helped me remember why I was here all over again.

The setup for the Tea Ceremony
Hot Pot after the Tea Ceremony

Not only that, but we got some amazing 火锅 and were able to take some amazing pictures with the beautiful architecture and the koi fish. The next day was our first service activity, which was amazing, and a fun attempt at explaining the value of the firefly in Māori mythology. The day after was me and my roommate’s Instagram takeover and a trip to the pastry-making class. We made 漢餅 and had some delicious pastries.

I am extremely grateful for the community that I have found here, for the people willing to help me with my Chinese, for the people giving their time to help us understand the education system better. I know this week was hard for me, and homesickness is a painful feeling that is extremely hard to get rid of, but I also know that this week has shown me how much having a group of people you care about can make the hard times better. I was able to make the most of this week, gain more confidence in my language abilities, test the limits of my resilience and find they are spread further than I thought they were.

I look forward to sharing the last few weeks of the trip with you guys as we near the end of classes, exam season, and the opportunity to go to the Elementary School!

Until next time!

Chinese glossary:

  • 圣诞快乐 – Merry Christmas
  • 新年快乐 – happy new year
  • 报告 – report or presentation about a topic
  • 火锅 – hot pot
  • 漢餅 – pastry filled with red bean paste, and sometimes used as wedding cakes

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