So I went to Helen’s house right after finals and started our BOMA journey. Helen’s house was just as I expected (probably because Helen had told me everything about her house): two floors with a basement. Her neighborhood, however, was a lot quieter than I thought. There is a lot space between each house, and it is hard to bump into anyone on the street. Yes…it is that quiet. For a city boy like me, it took a while to get used to the quiet environment. However, as soon as the fun began, I felt occupied all the time.
American High School vs. Chinese High School
Visiting her high school was a highlight. I didn’t realize how different American high schools were until I went into some of their classes and club activities. The school is very spacious and the facilities are advanced.
The class size varies from several people to 30 people; in contrast, a Chinese high school class usually has about 50 people. Another thing I realized from the high school trip was that American high schools are harder than I thought. Helen brought me to some of her AP classes she took when she was there. There is a lot of work to do and the classes fill up almost the entire day. Helen and I also walked around the rest of the school, went to one of the quiz bowl club practices, and met some students who are learning Chinese.
Compared to Chinese schools, there is more going on here. Students here have the freedom to take different courses rather than everyone taking the same course. I wish my high school had more fun events like theirs. But I do appreciate how my high school teachers challenged me more often and pushed the limits of my intelligence so I could become smarter.
In this week, I realized how much I’ve missed out on nature because I live in the city. Helen invited two of her friends over to go hiking with me. It was a beautiful day, and we walked 6.5 miles up and down the hills.
During the hike, we ran into different creatures, like a turtle, a lizard and a frog. I never thought some of them live in the forest! Helen also introduced me to a few plants. For example, poison ivy would make the skin feel itchy. I learned a lot of things from the hike, and I am looking forward to doing more hiking in the near future.
“I Feel Like an Alien”
During our hike we also met a group of Amish people having a picnic. There are quite a lot Amish people in Lancaster County.
They are famous for their simple life style, plain clothes and unwillingness to use modern technology. Instead of driving cars, they drive “buggies”, which are mostly carriages. That day was one of their holidays, so I luckily had a chance to have direct contact with them. They seemed very nice and peaceful people. They probably seldom see Asians around. For the first time, I felt like an alien.
Trust me, it was a very weird and funny feeling. They looked at me from time to time and made me feel a bit awkward. I was curious of them and asked Helen a bunch of questions like “do they go to hospitals or banks?” Isn’t it weird that I am jealous of their simple way of living while being unwilling to give up modern technology?
Strawberry and Family Culture
Besides hiking I had another taste of nature by going strawberry picking. Helen and I went to pick fresh strawberries on a gorgeous day.
I never knew strawberries grow on the ground! After we got 6 quarts of strawberries, we went back and Helen’s mum started to make strawberry jam. In the evening she made delicious strawberry pound cake. She said she has picked strawberries and made strawberry pound cake every year since she was young. I realized that no matter where they live, all families have their own traditions. Those traditions come along with family blood and become an important part of the culture.
Other Cool Stuff and Future Plans
In this week, we also did many other fun events like: watching an Tony Award play in the oldest theatre in Lancaster, visiting a dairy and eating fresh ice cream, volunteering in the biggest chicken BBQ, and of course, playing Wii with Helen and her brother Mark.
Next week we are going to Conifer, Colorado to spend three weeks there. Helen has planned out some hiking, white water rafting, horseback riding, and visiting friends. I am very excited for the rest of our BOMA adventure! Helen is too!