November 22, 2011 … the craziest night I have ever seen since I came to Columbus, left a deep impression in my mind. Finally, the last game of football was coming. There’s no doubt that this final game would be between OSU and our arch rival U of Michigan. OSU has a tradition before every annual game with Michigan, jumping into Mirror Lake. As a student, I wanted to definitely go to the lake to feel the atmosphere and OHIO spirit there.
The evening was very cold, but standing beside the lake, I could not feel coldness at all because all the people were so excited and I was totally involved in it. At first, the lake was kind of quiet. At some point, however, the lake became extremely “alive.” People continuously arrived and they jumped into the mirror lake one by one, or group by group. Shortly afterwards, the lake was just like a big pot with many dumplings in it. Some of my Chinese fellows also jumped together with domestic students. So cool! I was shouting “O-H-I-O” with all the people around. Maybe next year, I can try to jump myself! Crazy people, crazy night, crazy spirit. I love this jumping lake here!
From last week, I began my soul’s journey at the Faith, Hope and Love Church. Actually, right now, I still do not know much about Christianity. I just learned some Bible stories during my undergraduate years and heard about the beliefs of Christians from my grandparents. But I am really interested in this religion and want to learn it and find a place for myself in it.
People in the church are all very nice. There I got the warmest welcome since I came to Columbus. And the good thing is that there are some young people who are of a similar age with me in the church, including some American young adults. We got together to talk about the Gospel of Mark (Chapter 3) together. I even didn’t know how to find the right chapter in the Bible. As I said above, the people are very nice. They helped me turn to the right page. Religion books and doctrines are relatively abstract and hard to understand, even in one person’s mother language, let alone in a second language. This is the reason why I feel kind of lost when following the discussion. Even in Chinese I could not understand what the chapter talks about. I just try my best to understand the parts which I could and discussed my feeling together with my friends. Mark Chapter 3 mentions about mother and brother. For me, the ones who have the same belief to life, same attitude toward difficulties and same values with me can all be regarded as the family members from the big family given by God and I can gain support and power from them. The young group of the church and the whole church are just like this certain family for me right now.
Besides the study of Bible itself, the saint (or hymnal) songs also made me feel more peaceful in my inner heart. Whenever I listened to the music and song there, I felt that I was in another world from what I am really living in. At that time, I can calm down and think deeply about things and peoples around me. And I decided to learn these songs and keep singing to myself.
Keeping touch with a religion/inner spirituality is a serious and marvelous choice. I believe I will learn more and understand more about Bible and get much closer to God can lead me a way to the inner peace. I will not hesitate to find a home for my soul.
I worked a lot during midterm exams since examinations are always a source of big pressure for me. But as an old Chinese saying goes, “Good things will be waiting for you in the corner of your suffering.” I had a really exciting weekend in Columbus after all the midterm exams.
On Thursday’s evening, my friend, Zai, and I went to AMC cinema to watch new movies. AMC is a palace-like cinema, having 23 gorgeous movie stadiums. The seats there are very comfortable so that you won’t feel tired after a whole movie. We watched three movies all together— Foot Loose, a story about how a group of teenagers in a small town pursue their right to free public dance; The Lion King, a classic carton about growth which recall my good memory of my happy childhood; and Jonny English Reborn, a comedy about spy which let me forget all my worries, at least temporarily. I always think that watching movie in a cinema is a big difference than watching in front of computer or TV. The big screen and the sound effect can easily drag you into the movie, making you think what characters think, feel what they feel.
Last Friday was the party day for Halloween. However, I didn’t choose to attend a party. Instead, my best friend and walked along High Street to watch Ohio State’s Homecoming Parade for last Saturday’s football game. I was totally impressed by people’s love of the Buckeyes. Many parents even brought their little children to take part in the parade. We waved back to people who were in the parade and they screamed back to us at the same time. This is the first time that I really feel being *really* close with OSU football and being a part of the whole Buckeye family. Although we walked in the dark cold wind, we still felt happy and engaged. Sometimes, if you can just go out of your own home and your comfort zone, you will have some really memorable and cherished (not to mention different) experiences of life.
In China, a very popular get-together activity is singing karaoke. But, we haven’t had time or opportunities to sing songs together since we always had different things to do before midterm exams. To reward our hard work, we decided to go to Momo near campus to sing songs Saturday evening. For someone who is familiar with the environment and facilities of typical Chinese karaoke, s/he cannot imagine what the karaoke is like at Momo. Small room, simple voice box and rather outdated Chinese songs cannot begin to describe Momo’s karaoke condition. You must think that I want to complain about the poor condition of Momo’s karaoke. You are wrong! I just want to do a quick contrast. Even in this condition, and although this karaoke room is far more simple and crude than karaoke rooms in China, we spent the happiest time together since we came to Columbus! It seemed that we relieved all the pressures off our shoulders by simply singing some songs. After that night, I know that people need to refresh themselves periodically to keep working well. So I should learn how to give myself some rest and take some time off, regardless of how busy I get.
Lucky as I am, I got my first on-campus job with the university’s dining service. I make sandwiches, salad, fruit, and yogurt in Raney Commons, an on-campus undergrad dormitory cafeteria.
At first, I thought this was easy work to produce “easy” food. I didn’t need to talk much. I just needed to do well and do what I am supposed to do. The fact, however, is totally different from what I have imagined. Although the food products are relatively simple, the process to produce them is rather complicated/requires a lot of coordination, especially for yogurt and some special salads. At first I did not know the thousands of names of dressing, meat, cheese, vegetables, etc. I was always lost during the production process because sometimes I could not understand what the student managers said and what the names referred to. I did not know the work rules, either. Kind of frustrating, definitely!
The people I work together with are nice and patient. They always tell me how to do things in order and in an efficient way. And they explain to me more than one time if there is something I cannot understand. Gradually, I’ve become more familiar with the steps to do our kitchen work. At morning, we make the salad for that day’s order and sandwiches for that day’s second and third shifts. Then we do things listed on the prepare list. We prepare the meat sets and lettuce and tomato sets for all kinds of sandwiches, prepare eggs for egg salad, cook pita, bake bread, slice cucumbers, onions and celery, cut up fruit and prepare the yogurt parfaits, etc. After doing this, we produce turkey, chicken cordon blue, Italian, veggie club and egg salad sandwiches for the following day’s first order. Knowing this flow, it is easier for me to find something to do. And I learn new names every day. Now I even can remember sage, mayonnaise, orange dressing, provolone cheese, basil tomato bread and many other names and can match these things with their names. It is so exciting that you become more and more familiar with what you do every day.
Although I have some other challenges in my work, such as using all kinds of knives safely and holding a very heavy tray by myself, I will try my best to find ways to solve them. Now I have much stronger muscles than when I began work. I can hold a heavy tray myself without any help from others. This is a good thing to work independently. I am proud of improving my working abilities. The manager of our kitchen is really nice that she talks with me to help me adapt to working environment more smoothly and decrease my worries. She makes me feel that I am not an outsider anymore, but a valued employee of the department.
Beginning anything new is hard, but it will become better and better after a process of working hard.
I take part in the program of English Conversation Partners program at Ohio State. Thanks to this program, I made a new friend who has lived in America for almost all her life.
Every time we meet, I can learn some interesting things. Yesterday, we had dinner together in Sloopy Diner in the Ohio Union and we talked almost all the things listed on the menu. I was always at a lost when I was reading restaurant menus. I didn’t know the names. I didn’t know the food, either. Then I didn’t know what to order. But this time, before we ordered our meal, she patiently explained what the foods are and how they are cooked. That was really helpful. I know grilling is a cooking method to make hamburgers; pancakes are big round sweet cakes, usually eaten during breakfast; the things written under the food name are what is contained in the food. I also know the differences between entrées and side dishes. The learning process about food was so appetizing since I love eating very much. 🙂
Today, we went to Mirror Lake. Sitting beside the water made me feel very peaceful, which was a good state in which to have conversation. I loved today’s topic, traditional festivals. When I introduced some popular festivals in China to her, she was astonished by some beautiful old stories behind these festivals. Take the Qi Xi festival-Chinese Valentine’s Day as an example. Niu Lang and Zhi Nv who are a couple, can only meet once a year on Qi Xi because Zhi Nv is from heaven but Niu Lang is just an ordinary man on earth. My partner thought this festival is very romantic for it has such a touching story. During our conversation, I noticed that before I mixed up the terms “holiday” and “festival.” I thought that Christmas and Thanksgiving were both festivals in America. But my conversation partner told me that these are “holidays” and should not be considered “festivals” because when mention these days, people only know that they can have a day off and (usually) no need to go to school or go to work. In the U.S., festivals are those days people get together to celebrate something. People will have some public activities for festivals. And festivals can be at different times in different years. On the other hand, holidays usually have the same dates every year. It is really exciting to learn interesting things from other countries.
After I met my conversation partner, I no longer just stay at home to read text books on weekends. Speaking with her and exchanging ideas on issues are the best way for me to learn all kinds of new things in life here, not to mention improve by speaking skills. I love having someone with whom to share interesting things!
My days have become busy since the beginning of BEFORE the quarter started. Fisher’s international student orientation, OIA’s orientation and the MLHR program orientation came one by one, starting in early September. I really like the activities we got involved in during orientations and all of the campus info shared with us during the orientations. However, in every orientation it was emphasized repeatedly the importance of networking and encouraged us to network whenever and wherever possible. This made me feel a bit anxious. I admitted that building a strong network here is very important for us to help us get to where we want to go, we need to make friends, etc. I don’t think one should take networking as the number one priority in our life and that every interaction with every single person should be with “networking” in mind. I (and I think most people) always communicate with people in a natural way and never think that I am “networking” when I speaking with others. Networking shouldn’t be a formal “task” – it should happen naturally. Networking is simply a natural process of relationship building.
Besides networking, the MLHR classes are additional challenges for me. Having classes in a second language, it is challenging for me to understand every word and sentence of what professors say in classes, let alone taking notes of the important points discussed. In addition, all of the courses require a lot of reading; sometimes almost 500 hundred pages per week. How could I handle these tough text books? What’s more, I also need to finish more than 6 different current issue analysis, case study, presentation and research paper within very limited time. Meanwhile, many quizzes, mid-terms and finals are waiting for me. It’s sometimes overwhelming, to say the least.
I need to find ways to deal with these issues and the “depressed” feeling that I might get if I let them get to me. Actually, almost every international student who comes to America for the first time and speaks English as a second language will have the same difficulties as me. I just need time to adapt myself to the new learning and thinking method and overall environment. It is enough for me to make a little progress every day. I know one more word today; I can remember one more new foreign name today; I can understand one more sentence of what the professor was talking about in the class; I read one more page in an hour; etc. Thinking this way, I will be satisfied with my progress, however “tiny.” At the same time, I continuously remind myself to accept the “imperfect” me. No one can do great in every area all the time But one can always strive to get better. This is a matter of an optimistic attitude.
Since I chose to come to the U.S. to pursue my graduate studies, I must prepare myself for all kinds of challenges (including those described above). No more complaints and, at the same time, learn how to obtain my “inner peace.” Everything will be okay if I keep trying to get better and improve every day.
I have too many things to remember in the first month in this totally new country. However, I would like to begin my first of my observations: my first impression of Columbus.
After 20-hours of a tiring journey, I finally got to CMH. When I saw my friend who was also my temporary host, I nearly cried. I was so nervous during the whole plane journey because my suitcase was opened and checked at every checkpoint. As a result, I was worried about whether I accidentally brought some forbidden stuff and would be sent to some kind of police. Dragging my tiny body and my big heavy suitcases, I rushed into my friend’s arms directly and yelled “I am here!” When I saw his warm smile, I immediately felt less nervous.
Because of the time difference, I woke up extremely early the next morning and began my first substantial day in Columbus. Living in a big city in China, such as Beijing, the most images you see daily are thousands of people. No matter in banks, in hospitals, in stores or even on the road, my interest is in observing people’s different faces and expressions since other “non human” things are blocked by crowds of people. But, here, I can see many other things besides people. That is the advantage of a smaller population. I pay more attention to the strangely shaped vehicles and the various architectures. For example, I cannot see high buildings here in Columbus despite being in downtown, which is totally different from that in China. Every store has its own design style for its shop signs, interior layout, decoration, etc. Chase’s sales department in High Street is my favorite. The walls with weathered bricks and the specially constructed stairs make it like a castle.
The air here is very clear/clean and this is the reason why sunshine is so strong in Columbus. Although, in some days, the weather would change without warning, I enjoy the weather here. You can never imagine after walking outside, your shoes will be as clean as before you went out in Beijing. But here, it’s true. No dust, no pollution. The most exciting thing here is that you can see many kinds of little animals around you. Squirrels are the most common animal that you can see on campus or throughout the local community. I spent a whole afternoon sitting on the bench in front of my apartment to enjoy the sunshine and watch squirrels play. I saw one squirrel running after another around the lawn for countless times just because the “chaser” wanted to get his pine nut back. Another curious little squirrel climbed up to the top of a truck and looked around with one foot stepped on railing. Also, some other squirrels were not high on finding pine nuts. They were just fooling around on the road and leisurely cleaning their fur. After the sun went down, I started to go back to my apartment. Just before I open the building’s door, I noticed that some little things were flashing. At that moment, I was surrounded by many real fire flies that I had never seen before. It felt like I was in a fairy tale. Besides squirrels and fire flies, I also saw a raccoon family. At first glance, I thought they were wild cats, but I was stunned when they came close to me. How beautiful their faces are! Suddenly, an article called “Lions and Tigers and Bears” (P366, Contemporary College English—Intensive Reading 4) jumped into my mind. At that moment, I could understand why the author adored nature that much when he received the “gift” from raccoons. I love the relaxed life here!
Like everybody else when they first arrived here, I was very excited to see so many different things. But at the same time, I was also very anxious because I knew nothing about here before. I didn’t know how to get a phone and bank account set up. I didn’t know how to go to campus and go back home without friends’ cars. I didn’t know whether I could speak in a second language successfully. A lot of “I didn’t knows.” But people can and will learn and grow up in a challenging environment; I am not an exception. So thanks to all the excitement and tension and loneliness, I learned how to do things all by myself and how to help others. I grew up a lot in the last month! And I believe everything will be fine here.