Post from Tes - November 15, 2017
First day with the homestay-
Waking up this morning, I was excited and nervous at the same time. It was the last time we would be staying at the hotel, basically ending the tourist lifestyle. No longer would we be going from hotel to hotel, from city to city each day. We packed our things, ate a good breakfast that was both eastern and western styled, and rehearsed our dance for the welcome ceremony at school the next day. Boarding the bus, we were all feeling the same- nervous yet excited. We talked about what we were looking forward to and how we thought this experience might go. Arriving at the school, everyone was jittery and itching to meet our hosts. We walked in to see many kids playing basketball and badminton on their recess time, and saw some kids point from the hallways at us upstairs. We went to a room to keep our luggage for the day and headed to the cafeteria. Walking in, many heads turned, and we all felt a little awkward, but soon realized many of the students ceased their staring. They must have been more used to seeing Americans, we thought, considering Shang hai's more western vibes. We ate our food, while still seeing a few people looking at us. After lunch we made our way upstairs to a conference room where we left our things to go explore the city a little. We walked a few blocks to Xin Tian Di, which is a cute popular shopping area in Shang hai. Given an hour of free time with our friends, we explored the area, eventually landing in a cute western cafe, finding the best burgers on the planet, which everyone had been craving. Being allowed free time in a city like Shang hai (上海) was so great. We met back up with the rest of our group and made our way back to the school. We settled back in and practiced our presentations for the following day, eagerly awaiting the time of 4:15, which we would be meeting our host sibling. I was feeling very nervous, wondering what this experience would turn out to be. What made it more nerve racking was the fact that all but three members of our group were still at the ATM exchanging money with le Lao shi, and had yet to return. The students arrived, and it was quite awkward because only a few of us were there. But, it turned out fine, as I made my way through the halls with my host sister, Judy, into a classroom where she left briefly to go to a meeting and I stayed with the other students on break. They applauded as I entered the room, with many of the girls asking to take selfies with me. I agreed, and even got a few of their WeChats as well! Judy returned and we left the school, as I officially felt on my own, departing from my group whom I had spent so much time with in the past week. We took a taxi to her apartment and did some homework. Their house keeper was home, preparing dinner for us. The parents came home around 6:30 and we enjoyed dinner and tea together. They were both very accommodating and pleasant, and spoke very good English. We discussed life in Shang hai, versus where we live, and what my life is often like. I am very pleased to have been blessed with such a great host family who seem very enthusiastic about making me feel at home and showing me new things about the place they live. I am very much looking forward to what this new and different experience will bring to me, and how it'll shape me as a person in the future!