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2015 EXCHANGE GROUP APPLICATIONS » Applications for students and teachers for the 2015 Exchange are now being accepted, through Monday, March 24!
2014 EXCHANGE GROUP UPDATE » This year's group has left Hangzhou and is now in Beijing, returning to Boston on March 28.
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Friday, March 28, 2014

[FINAL POST of 2014 Exchange] So Long, Farewell…


Wow, time has flown by. At the risk of sounding repetitive (per the other blog posts, and the final blog posts of previous groups), I can’t believe we leave for home today…where did the last two months go? While I am of course thrilled to see my family, friends, and loved ones, I am also going to deeply miss some of the people I’ve met here, and miss seeing such amazing things each and every day, whether in Hangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Huangshan, Xi’an, Lijiang, Dali, Shaxi, Kunming, Guilin, Yangshuo, or Hong Kong. I think that’s a complete list, yes? Wait! I forgot the side trips! Wuzhen, Xiaoxing…



I’m going to start off with how absolutely bizarre it is that this is my very last blog post in China. Two months is a long time, and it’s been fantastic. All right, on to Beijing.

We arrived on our train at around seven-thirty AM, where our new tour guide, Hans, met us. He told us that he got his English name directly from his family name, Han, so his business card actually reads “Hans Han”. We went straight to our hotel for check-in, and a quick shower and change of clothes. I’m beyond glad we stopped first, because after that we hit the ground running.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Shaoxing and More


Well, we just enjoyed our last week at Hangzhou High School. Our last weekend was a fun one; it was spent going to Shaoxing on Saturday and biking on Sunday. We were lucky enough to have an entire weekend of sunny 75 degree weather.

Our Last Weekend in Hangzhou and Our Last Day at Hangzhou High School


As our last weekend in Hangzhou set in on Friday night, we sat down at a cafĂ© with DiDi, Kay, and Cindy for a few drinks and some war stories. It almost felt like nothing was wrong and it was just another weekend on the streets of Hangzhou. Only now do I realize that this was the last gathering that the eight of us would have. DiDi, Kay, and Cindy were the students who came to our school last year and they have been immensely helpful in translating and planning our day to day activities and visits. A big thank you to them. 

Lazy Sunday


Finally, a break to all the traveling and the routine of school! Today, Sunday, was one of the most relaxing days of the trip. I actually got to sleep in for once, which was nice. (In China, my usual wake up time of noon has changed to about nine o’clock on weekends). After waking up, my host dad, David, and I went to Zhejiang University to walk around. Zhejiang has multiple campuses just like some colleges in America; the difference between this location and the campus my previous host family took me to was drastic.

Our Very Last Day in Hangzhou


So today is our very last day in Hangzhou. That is a really weird sentence to write, this feels completely bizarre. Saying goodbye to my host family this morning was just really, kind of unexpectedly, sad. Saying goodbye to my first host family was weird enough, but I’ve seen Willow in the past few weeks since, so it wasn’t goodbye forever. This time, especially since my host sister, Lei, was sick this morning and unable to come to school, it is for good. She promised to email me, and we’re definitely going to stay in touch, but I’ll miss John and Mary, my host parents (those are their English names, obviously). The thing about host families is that they made me feel so at home, and both of my host families were so kind and went so out of their way to be so welcoming, that the little box of Salem Gibraltar’s and sea glass bracelet I brought over for gifts seem kinda dinky.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014



As an organizational freak, (and yes, I readily admit this…ask my senior year college roommate about the line of demarcation down the center of our room) there’s little I adore more than lists. Likewise, as a high school teacher, I’m quite familiar with the superlatives that are given to seniors each year—I always enjoy hearing the buzz about who has been deemed “best dressed,” or as having the “best car,” etc. So, then, it seems to make sense to compose a list of superlatives—China style.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Red Hot Chili Peppers


Saturday, March 15, 2014. Today, the Barnyard Bunch (our official name now), ventured into one of the most dangerous, (safe) and harsh (beautiful) of places in all of China. We would be dropped off an hour and a half away from civilization, (Hangzhou) and we would have to survive for half a day in a foreign area. Can we survive in this unforgiving, (very nice) wasteland (extremely green area)? This is…MAN VS. CHINA!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Shanghai and New Host Families


I think it’s fair to say that at this point quite a lot has been said about our weekend trip to Shanghai. I’m not going to spend this whole post talking about it, but I have to talk about it a little bit. I mean, I’m not going to go to Shanghai (!) and not mention it even a little in my blog. That would just seem so wrong.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Night Circus


Over the summer, I read Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, which was a rich and vibrant novel about a mysterious, supernatural, traveling night circus. It was a fantastic piece of magical realism, but I’d bet money Erin’s never been to China.

Friday night (March 14), I witnessed my own night circus, and while there were no acrobats, trapeze artists, or pachyderms, there were plenty of illusionists, magicians, and fortune-tellers.

Time Travel


Oh, how I wish time travel was possible—for multiple reasons. First and foremost, I want to go back and spend more time in Shanghai, as it was fantastic! Two and a half days was simply not enough time to see and do everything we wanted to see and do in such an incredible city. Please don’t misunderstand me—we packed a lot into the time we had, but there’s so much left undone.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sick in Shanghai


Unfortunately right before our weekend excursion to Shanghai, I somehow got a bacterial blood infection which caused me a fever so I was mostly restricted to the hotel room and the surrounding block. There were a few occasions when I felt good enough to go out and see things so I’ll talk about those but also about my experience at a Chinese hospital.