Why Does China Hate Me?!

I have studied Chinese since my sophomore year in high school. That’s approximately 4 years of strenuous character writing, pronunciation drilling, and seemingly endless grammar patterns. The every day vocabulary quizzes and chapter tests were always stressful. If I had a penny for every time my roommate has said “oh my gosh, Cat, how much Chinese homework do you have? I left two hours ago and you were still writing Chinese characters!” I would be richer than Bill Gates. However, when I received the opportunity to come to Beijing and study at the prestigious Peking University, I was thrilled. The reason I study Mandarin is so that one day I can be as fluent as native speakers and can potentially find work in Shanghai or Beijing.

You can imagine my disappointment when as soon as I arrive in Beijing, I have to be rushed to the hospital because I found out I am allergic to MSG. For those not familiar with MSG, it’s as common as salt is in American food. Yeah. Imagine being allergic to salt. It’s not fun. My entire face was covered with red dots. I was so embarrassed I wore the my navy blue Yankees hat 24/7 until the doctor’s medication finally worked and the dots were gone.

After that, I said to myself, “okay, Cat. You got illness out of the way. At least it wasn’t something serious.” Psyched myself out; just you wait. Because everything in China has MSG in (probably even the air has MSG in it), I could barely eat anything. My mom and doctor were extremely worried, so they asked me to go back to the hospital and get a blood test to make sure I didn’t develop anemia. So back to the hospital I went. Apparently, I wasn’t getting enough nutrition, so I had to open up a Chinese bank account and download an app called “饿了吗?” which translates to “are you hungry?”. On the app, I could order Western style food on my phone and have it delivered to my dorm building.

Okay, so now I have been to the hospital twice. Just you wait; we’re not done yet. Three weeks before the end of the program, I start feeling my throat itch and my head hurt. I thought nothing of it, but 15 minutes into my first class, I could not stop coughing. I was in so much pain, that I was rushed to the hospital for the third time. I waited there for 3 hours before the doctor (who already knew me on a first name basis at this point) gave me some DayQuill and told me to get some rest. Turns out it wasn’t just a cold– it was bronchitis. I went to the doctor 3 times that week, until they finally prescribed me 5 different types of medication. That week was definitely not fun.

So after all of that, I just have one question: why does China hate me?! All I want is to practice my Chinese and enjoy Chinese culture!

Of course, while all of these experiences were real, I am just joking. I know China doesn’t actually hate me. Since I have been here, I have received nothing but love and compassion, especially from all of my new teachers. While I was sick, they would all take turns texting me and making sure I was alright and asking me if I needed anything. I can’t wait to come back to China soon; hopefully I won’t have to go to the hospital!