Nĭ hăo! Wŏ jiào, Nasreen! Hello! I am called, Nasreen! Learning the language Mandarin is incredible! I cannot believe I have never thought to learn it, let alone come explore the Chinese world. But here I am.
I couldn’t help but laugh. Last week, as I was walking around Macau with some fellow exchange students from Portugal, we were discussing all the cultural things of Macau. Macau used to be a Portuguese republic not 20 years ago, and they had a lot of fun facts for me to learn.
After the Chinese New Year, my cousin and I had planned to travel to Taiwan. It was so cool to know that traveling in Asia, while in Asia, is extremely cheap and is a must if you’re planning to stay for a long period of time. This was the first time I’ve traveled without older adults in a foreign place. At least by now I am a pro at packing.
It has always been traditional for me to be at home on New Year’s. This year, I was in two homes for two New Year’s. When I came to China, I did not know that the Lunar New Year was fast approaching (just letting you know beforehand, Chinese New Year started in early February, not January 1).
I am known to be a loud and very smiley extrovert who loves to always see the positive side of things and make the best out of life for others and myself. I am Mexican-Iranian-American in America, but here in China, I am American. But that does not mean I forget who I truly am and what my heritage is while I study in Shanghai, China.
I started writing this on a United Airlines airplane, slowly realizing that I was heading to a new home with only five recognizable faces for the next six months. Things will be difficult – getting adjusted, learning the language, and figuring out Chinese culture. I did not know what to think, except to think about the faces of my loved ones back home. As I arrived in Shanghai, 14 hours later, I was immediately anxious to see China and my Chinese brothers and sisters.
In Thailand, the year is 2560. Although it technically is the same year here as anywhere else in the world, because Thais go by the Buddhist calendar, everyone refers to this year as 2560. The planners, calendars and online websites all declare boldly that it is now the year 2560. Odd? No. In every way this actually seems to make sense.
Greetings from Macau! I want to start this post by reviewing some of the complications I faced while coming to my exchange program. First, I was stuck in Seattle, as one of my connecting flights in China was canceled. Even worse, I couldn’t get the flight company, Juneyao Airlines, to book me a new fight nor give me a refund! This forced my hand to pay 1.5 times as much as I originally paid just to ensure I would arrive in Macau on time from Seattle, taking a rather large chunk out of what little I had saved/borrowed for going abroad.
I am currently sitting in a cafe in Nimman, Chiang Mai, a place I like to think of as the SoHo of Thailand. The streets are filled with hip restaurants, massage studios and thrift stores. The cute cozy cafes offer a place for free Wifi and cups of caffeine for around 30 Baht ($0.80). Jazz music softly plays in the background as I reflect on the past month and how I got to this exact spot.