23, Sydney AU


mailtojessicayun@gmail.com

For those who know me, I am notorious for being theatrically disengaged with my own cultural heritage. To be Chinese, for me, was always a very complex issue; I am not proud of a lot of things my culture is known for (human exploitation, political morbidity, social inequality, inchoate and unjust legal system, Mao Ze Dong, organ harvesting). And yet my culture is known for so much, and you can be sure I am fiercely proud of many things that Chinese culture is known for (economic mobilisation, work ethic/disaprin, unwavering respect to the family unit, the invention of paper, gunpowder, ice cream and alcohol [seriously], Confucius/Kong Zi, Lao Tzu, Ai Weiwei, Mulan etc).

That is not to say that I am patriotic or nationalistic (which wouldn't make sense anyway since I'm an Australian citizen through and through). Rather, it is more like I am still very much in the process of coming to terms with — being at ease with — my Chinese background. My personal experience with China as a teenager was fraught with shouty, screaming matches with grandparents who couldn't tolerate the thought of their grandchild - from a foreign country, no less - having habits or points of view that disagreed with theirs. In all fairness, I was a complete brat: to cope with my profound loneliness when I was forced to go overseas during the summer break, I took to either hibernating in my room reading books or browsing the net (sometimes for days on end) or I would whittle my time away by asking for a bunch of shopping money that I almost always guilt-tripped my mother into.

I'm not proud of it. I'm older now, twenty one years old — I can't hide behind 'youth' like it's a sufficient excuse. I'm also studying China more deeply — its ideological roots and the rise and fall of the nation, the resulting struggles of which has constituted modern China's foundation. Sometimes, I feel like I'm going through a very minor identity crisis of sorts. These university assignments and essays aren't just theoretical. They're so personal for me, and I find myself in the middle of a reading in a rather emotional state, questioning how much stake I put into my Chinese heritage.

So, for the first time, I am so surprised — pleasantly so — to say I am looking forward to going to China. I am suddenly, curiously, thrilled all over again with the choice of university I made. Hangzhou is beautiful, and suits my sensibilities absolutely perfectly. (I hate crowds, neon lights, sky scrapers and pollution levels so high they exceed the buildings and smother them from sight, too.) Pinterest paints a pretty picture of Hangzhou, and if it really looked like this, I wouldn't ask for anything more.

I want endless dumpling picnics and reading by the water. I want to go for runs along the West Lake and I want to drink the tea and buy silky garments that Hangzhou is so known for. I'm slowly becoming rather excited for my year abroad — which is a far cry from the tune I was singing last blog post!

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