Will Hodges ’15 describes the first night and day with his host family:
I am a vivid dreamer. It’s to the point that, often times, after I wake from a deep, long slumber, I experience a few familiar minutes of confusion and cloudiness. It’s typically a combination of exhaustion and lack of energy to tackle the day ahead. It’s a blissful time when my semi-conscious body can instinctually turn off the alarm and escape from pressing realities.
But this morning I woke up in a virtual stranger’s home. All things considered, I slept well. The grogginess and confusion, though, hit me like a freight train. For about ten seconds I didn’t have the slightest inkling as to where I was or whose bed I had slept in. I clenched the scratchy, Pokemón duvet and analyzed it carefully. Then I remembered. Apartment 15F, ivory building, across from the 和平站 metro stop, Beijing. After getting my bearings, I knew I couldn’t give in to the temptation of snoozing — my family was counting on me so that my brother could get to class on time.
At school, we tried our hand at calligraphy, wood shop, and another art class. Although none of the teachers spoke any English, we could all tell our comprehension skills were getting better and better as we followed instructions without delay. After class, we played some basketball with our host brothers and their friends. Although I woke up feeling like a guest and a foreigner, I am about to go to sleep feeling more like someone’s friend, brother, or son.