My sister is a flight attendant so she had the opportunity to work and fly to Beijing to see me. When I stepped into her air conditioned room in a five star hotel and used her very American toilet, it felt like I was in America again and seeing the Hawaiian chocolates and guava juice on the table was so reassuring. With my sister, we were able to hunt down the best Peking Duck restaurant in Beijing, climb the Great Wall together, and explore the other hidden parts of the 798 Art District. My sister had her rough moments, whether it was using the public restroom for the first time or eating authentic cuisine that she was not used to but all in all, it was an amazing experience for us to explore China together.
The weekend was a little challenging for me because I wanted to plan a smooth sailing tour for my sister using the very limited Chinese that I knew. Although it was with much difficulty, it was really satisfying when I realized that I was able to communicate with other locals. At the beginning of the program, the director told us that learning Chinese is a lot like learning how to swim. The best way is to just dump us in the water, and that is exactly what the weekend felt like. There were times when I just could not understand other people and I really had to push myself to communicate to the best of my abilities, but in the end, I left every conversation feeling a little wiser and more confident in my language skills.
During these next couple of days that I have left in Beijing, I am going to miss a lot of the simple things that I took for granted, like the mango ice cream that only costs 12 cents, the amazingly convenient subway that took me all over Beijing, and the guards who greeted me when I was walking to class every day at Peking University. Having my sister over served as a reminder of how much I have grown in this country that have taught me so much, and it was exciting for me to actually see that growth amid the chaos and fast pace of day to day life in China.