The beginning of December did not start very well for me. I got a severe stomach bug that lasted for over two weeks, and I was homesick at the same time. My students realized that I was feeling down and tried to make me feel better. Somehow their attempts fell short. It is incredible how isolated one can feel when surrounded by over 400 people who want to help.
While I was sick, I heard rumors from a few people about a potential Christmas party for me. I didn’t pay much attention to these rumors because it was supposed to be a surprise. Therefore, I didn’t plan anything. I also have 450 students, several coworkers I get along with, and friends from other activities I am involved in on campus. I didn’t want to choose favorites to celebrate the holiday.
On the morning of Christmas Eve, my friend Lily texted me saying she and some students were going to decorate my apartment for a Christmas party starting at 4. On the one hand, I was surprised. When I heard the rumors, I thought the party would be in a classroom, not my apartment. On the other hand, I know this method is a part of Chinese culture. If this had happened during my first stay in China, I would have been agitated. However, I understand my friends and students were attempting to make me feel better.
The only problems I had to solve were: who do I invite and how do I prevent people from being upset by not receiving an invitation. I decided to send messages to the class representatives and have them pass along the information to the other students. Overall, it was a great turn out. The school organized a Christmas tree, decorations, and cake from Lily. A number of my student friends gave me presents as well, most notably earrings!
During the party, we listened to Christmas music, danced, talked, and played Apples to Apples, the only game I have in China. All in all, the people here at Chongqing College of Humanities, Science, and Technology have made me feel welcomed and loved! I hope the next semester goes as smoothly as this one has passed!