I finally feel pretty settled here. I’m used to not understanding most of the words I hear, used to going on post-dinner walks with my family, and used to the stifling weather. I’m also used to the food of Guangdong, which surprised me a lot. The food here has very light flavors and is often steamed to preserve the flavor of the ingredient itself. At first, I found the food quite boring and the meats even unpalatable at times. I didn’t like eating steamed chicken with odd pieces of bone in it, but soon I came to appreciate the food of Guangdong more than I ever thought I would. I find its simplicity refreshing. Eating steamed broccoli gives me a feeling of cleanliness.
I’ve come close to becoming vegetarian in my life many times for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it was out of respect for living things. In a way, I find the way that the people in this region prepare food falls in line with that thinking: steaming the food allows the eater to experience the flavor of the ingredients rather than hiding them with strong flavors and sauces. Also, from what I’ve seen most of the animal in question is eaten. These two practices also constitute respect in my eyes, although I don’t know the true origins of this practice. Nearly the entire animal is eaten, and its true nature, or flavor, is minimally altered.
I feel very comfortable with my host family. I understand their daily routine now, so I’ve been able to explore some new things in my free time. The other day my host dad and I played badminton with Daniel and his dad at a nearby college. I’m not good, but I’m better than the people at the courts expected. Daniel’s host dad moved from court to court joining new games, but I hung around our original court, watching people approach us asking if we would play with them. Eventually, I played someone my age who was studying in Beijing. We didn’t get to talk much past introductions, but it was interesting to meet another student.
The badminton excursion was a lot of fun, but I still miss when we all used to spend time together and hope we can do something like that in the future. I’ve realized that it’s pretty hard to plan something like that, though, because we now live in different neighborhoods and have our own family schedules.
On another note, Caroline recently asked me if I felt uncomfortable with people staring at me. I said I didn’t really notice it but didn’t mind either way. Only later did I realize that I’ve never noticed it because I haven’t been wearing my glasses.