First impressions -- my host family at EFZ: Jiyun Lee '13

I can't even describe how kind and welcoming my host family was. They were so generous that I almost forgot about the language barrier and the fear that derives from it.

I would not be able to forgo describing how delicious the food was, but I was especially thankful of the detailed descriptions the host family and my partner gave me to everything.

A little bit surprisingly but as expected of a student who attends a competitive school, my partner had a morning class in an academy. She had class 9AM and I really respected her and her family for giving up sleeping in on a Sunday morning. After we ate breakfast around the neighborhood--noodles, my partner Elaine's dad drove her and I to her academy. On the way, Elaine and her dad never forgot to describe everything from the name of the road to the news on radio to keep me entertained. After Elaine was dropped off, her dad and I went to Li Yang Lu to look at traditional buildings. Because Pu Xi is a more traditional district than Pu Dong, there are many traditional buildings and places where poor people live. Elaine's dad called these places "shabby places" and mentioned that these places are hard to see now in Shanghai. Then we had a great lunch at a shopping center in a restaurant called "The Grandma's." The restaurant was so popular we had to wait for almost an hour, but the food was worth the waiting time.

I really appreciated the generosity and enthusiasm of the host family. I did ask many questions in response to their detailed explanations, but I should ask more so that I really get a lot out of this trip. The thing to note is how Elaine never forgot to do her work during spare time while hosting me. While we were waiting for food to come out, she studied chemistry and while we were on the subway, she memorized Chinese poems in her index cards. She also talked about how hard it is to get into EFZ and how fierce the competition is. Seeing myself surprised at her using her spare time wisely, I realized how distant I have been from Asian education system where the competition is only based on test scores and 1 point can determine 10 rankings going up or down. When we came back to EFZ from her house, we went to her classroom, and although there was no study hall, there were students studying in classrooms.

Visiting Elaine's dorm, I came across a lot of her friends who were curious and interested in talking to me. I'll experience a lot of that for the next few days. Looking forward to it.