I think that it is natural to have fear. Fear is a very human thing. There are rational fears and irrational fears but it is all fear just the same. But fear only goes as far as you let it and fear is a very personal thing. The truth is, we fear what we don’t know, what we can’t control, what we don’t understand, and a lot of times we allow our fear to dictate how we act. Coming into this trip I had my fears just like everyone else. The small scale fears like not being able to shower, the bathrooms, the food. And the large scale fears like the hike, the homestays, or just the unfamiliarity of being in a different country with a different culture. The Beijing 101 homestay was personally the most meaningful experience I faced on this trip. It challenged me in a way I had never been challenged and forced me to change my routine ways in order to temporarily adjust to something new. I was upset at first to learn that I wouldn’t be staying with Chelsea, the student I’d hosted in February and already had a tight relationship with. Instead I was going to stay with Azalea, whom I’d never met before. I had no idea what I would be walking in to. Shortly after our long walk to the subway, she told me that we would be eating dinner close to her apartment but instead of staying there, we’d be driving about three hours away to live at her grandparents house. After the subway ride, we stood on the streets of Beijing waiting to catch a taxi to the restaurant. As we stood there panic starting to set in. I wouldn’t be close to my friends for the weekend, there wouldn’t be wifi in the house, and I was honestly just terrified of being on my own in such a strange place. We got to the restaurant and the family was immediately so loving and understanding, and when we arrived at the house they continued to bend over backwards to provide for me. The first morning was a struggle for me, I hadn’t spoken to anyone and I felt so disconnected and feeling disconnected only made me feel more out of my element. The first day, after a long walk to the market, we went to a cafĂ© to get wifi so that Azalea could do her homework. While we were there I had the opportunity to FaceTime a friend back home. To see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice changed things for me. The panic disappeared and all it took was something familiar, something that was home. The rest of the homestay was wonderful because I learned to find familiarity in things that otherwise wouldn’t be familiar unless you look. Small things like the salad her father made me, and even the father himself, who reminded me of my own father, brought me a lot of comfort. I realized that even though life here is so different than life at home, the experience is meant to teach us how to learn and grow by accepting things that aren’t familiar to us. We have to learn how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Like I said, we fear what we don’t know, so instead of rejecting what we “fear” and avoiding it, we should learn it, then we won’t need to fear it.

– Chessie


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