[note: this was written on July 5, my first night of homestay, but I haven’t had reliable Internet to post until now]
So I’m pretty excited about my homestay situation. Hah, I didn’t think I’d be typing that on the first night.
In some ways it may seem like Peace Corps China isn’t a “real” Peace Corps experience—we teach at universities, not local schools! We run English clubs instead of digging ditches! We live in cities of 10 million instead of tiny villages! And, of course, we don’t live in mud huts—we live in apartments.
LYY’s apartment (as I shall call my host) looks like it was furnished by Ikea. And, since there is an Ikea in Chengdu, and since my towel very specifically has an Ikea tag, there is quite a good chance that this is actually correct. There’s a big flatscreen TV where we watched awesome Korean popstars doing some American Idol-type thing. Etc etc. Mud hut this is not, and I’m fine with that. My biggest hardship is the squat toilet, but whatever. It’ll be good for my glutes, or some such.
Similarly, I’m totally cool with the fact that I ended up less with a big traditional homestay family and more with…well, two Chinese roommates who are girls about my age. Let’s call them host sisters, LYY and CJX. They are friendly and warm and seem to really care, without being overbearing in a way that a “host mother” might be, say. And I’m still getting a plenty cultural experience, just with a different demographic.
This pleases me.
Tonight LYY’s younger brother, older sister, and brother-in-law came over for dinner, and LYY and the cook-person made no fewer than nine dishes for the six of us. The siblings didn’t speak much English, so there was a fair amount of commenting, interpreting, and me doing party tricks of reciting the few words I know (“Yi! Ar! Sun!”). Then LYY and CJX took me on an expedition to the “market,” which turned out to be giant department store-cum-mall-cum-grocery, and I realized the purpose of the trip was to get me-specific stuff like cookies and peanut butter. Yay. Upon realizing that the “market” also sold the flat irons I’ve been so desperately craving (humidity requires it), I dropped a somewhat-obscene sum on a Philips SalonStraight Active Ion. Let’s call this my one indulgence.
Tomorrow LYY will walk me to class, which she says is just a few minute walk—some volunteers might be so far away they have to bike or bus 30 minutes.
Anyway, so far, Peace Corps, I’m pretty impressed with you.