I came to China in September, hopeful about the future and wondering what living there would be like.

October, I learned that people are selfish. I learned how ugly a culture difference can be, Chinese people’s thoughts towards Americans, and threw up once a day because I wasn’t used to the food. I learned how hard it was to communicate when I could barely speak Chinese. How terribly frustrating it was to have the one thing that defined me- my intellect, my speech- taken from me.

November, I missed America terribly.

December, I looked at the fainter star of Orion and felt just as lonely and shadowed. My first Christmas alone. Shivered the whole night and woke up the next day shaking with fever. Decided I didn’t care and went outside to catch snowflakes on my tongue.

I went to Beijing on the tail end of January and spent an entire month there. I met lots of wonderful people and lots of not so wonderful ones. This was the month I truly became comfortable with myself, learned how to explore cities alone and enjoy my own company.

February, I went to a coffee shop alone on Valentine’s Day and sketched the couples around me. I wrote a short novel, daydreaming of stories and adventures for another world and feeling an acute sense of not belonging.

March, I was given roses for my birthday by a boy and my parents came to visit me for the first time since I came here. I watched the two people who raised me talk, distant at best, and decided that life is really only about myself and my family. I resolved to hide my unhappiness so that they would not worry. I cried for days when they left, alone and pining for home again, then decided that I needed to grow up.

April, I went to Hong Kong. Inconsolably lost, a stranger saw me poring over a map and asked me where I was going. I told him, and it turned out we were going to the same place. I  agreed to accompany him to the Adidas NMD release in exchange for his directions and dinner (his offer). We stood in line talking for almost an hour, then were told by the store that they were sold out. We looked at each other and burst out in hysterical laughter. Two complete strangers with two completely separate lives, stepping into each other’s world for just one night.

May was the month of rain, and I got over my fear of worms long enough to talk a walk and dance a bit.

And June, sweet June, my favorite month, was the essence of youth, and for one night, I went to a beautiful ball and felt like a queen, doused in a liquid silver dress and liquid courage. That night I broke somebody’s heart, and someone broke mine.

Yesterday, I finished all my exams and danced for joy. I decided being careful was overrated. But today, lighting struck my house, and I decided maybe being careful isn’t so overrated.

2 months more. This year was a year on its own. Stranger things have happened, but these I won’t forget.


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