Archive for March, 2010

Photo Links

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

So I have photos uploaded onto my facebook page but here are the links for those of you not on facebook.

This is my Buenos Aires album (so far):  http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=39…

This is my Mar Del Plata album: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=40…

Let me know if the links don’t work. You may be able to just click them or else copy and paste it into your web browser.  I’ve never used an external link before but facebook says it should work…

Easter Holiday (aka Spring Break!)

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

I am sitting in the living room right now looking at the snow falling from the sky. Yes, there is snow here…and it is almost April! This reminds me of the first day I arrived here. The sidewalks were covered in slush and it was so slippery.

I finished classes last Thursday, so for the last few days my flatmates and I have just been watching movies. It was great! But most of them are going home for about a week for Easter holiday. Tomorrow morning Josie and Sarah are leaving, so Alistair and I are the only ones left in the flat. It has been weird the past few days just watching movies and only having about 5 people here, but it is a nice change. Over the break I plan to do a lot of things around Edinburgh. Today I visited the Scottish Parliament. The building from the outside is very modern (and in my opinion, I think it is ugly), but after taking the tour, I learned to like the building a little bit more. I want to go back and hear a debate at the parliament. Next week, I am going to visit Steph (my flatmate) at her house. She lives in the highlands in Forres, which is 30 minutes from Inverness. I am so excited! And then on April 13th, we are having a joint Birthday party for Steph and Alistair…and the theme is the 1960s! We have to dress up, and there will be music from the 1960s. Then afterwards, we will go to a pub all dressed up in our 1960s attire…I can’t wait. A few days after the B-day party, Lindsay and I are going to London for 4 days. We have already booked our hotel and train tickets. It is pretty exciting because neither of us have been there before. We are also planning an Ireland trip after that. So even though the next few days might be quiet, I just have to think that there are so many great things happening in a few weeks!

Mar Del Plata

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

This past weekend my program took a trip to Mar Del Plata, Argentina. It is a beach town 6 hours south of Buenos Aires. We took a bus for the journey. The bus terminal in Buenos Aires has probably at least a hundred “gates” for double decker, charter style buses. The buses can take you virtually anywhere in Argentina and South America. The buses look like charter buses from the outside but inside they are much nicer. Instead of being 4 seats across, they are 3 across because the seats are very wide. The seats also have a fold down leg rest and they recline way back. Think of a small la-z-boy on a bus. They are very comfortable and I slept virtually the whole way there and back. You also receive a snack packet when you board the bus with various snacks inside and there are water cooler with hot water for tea and cold water. I have heard that on longer trips they will feed you meals and possibly show movies. It seems these buses are the primary means of transportation for most everyone here because they are cheaper than flying.

Mar Del Plata appeared to be similar to a beach town in any other major resort area. Lots of hotels and tourist stores, pretty views and a nice beach.  It has the largest casino in South America- we never made it there. One of the beaches has a unique rock formation that is natural and only found in one other place in the world: South Africa.

We went to the beach once during our stay. Since we traveled south it was a little cooler than Buenos Aires but we were determined to go to the beach anyway. Some of my friends and I went with beach towels with the goal of a nap on the beach. However, when we arrived we spread out our towels and were accosted by a pack of 5 stray dogs. One of my friends was feeding them and they kicked sand all over our towels and just wrecked havoc on our tranquil setup. We wound up packing up because these dogs were crazy. They even followed us off the beach and almost back to our hotel. Craziness.

We spent one day an hour away from the beach on an “estancia” (large farm) and had a traditional Argentine asado (cookout, roast). The scenery was beautiful, we got to enjoy a nice sunny day, and we rode horses in an open field. It was the perfect diversion from living in the city. The beef we ate for lunch was DELICIOUS! They had two types of sausage as well as various pieces of beef- all very very good.

My travels will continue this weekend as I leave Thursday with 5 of my friends for Bariloche, Patagonia. It will be a 20 hour bus ride each way and we will spend 3 nights there and return to Buenos Aires on Tuesday. We have a break from school for Semana Santa (Easter/Holy week) this week so we are trying to go as far away as possible since this our only chance to do so. Then 2 weeks later we will travel to the most popular beach resort in South America- Punta del Este, Uruguay. These next couple of weeks are a little crazy but I’m excited to be seeing more than just the city.

Canberra, Melbourne, and the Great Ocean Road!

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
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Hi All,

I just got back from the most jam packed weekend of my life! 8 of the friends and I left our apartments at 3:45am Friday morning and didnt stop going until 11:30pm Monday night, so I think that gives you a little idea of how exhausted I am right now. I apologize now for any type-o’s or storys that do not make sense! haha! If you dont have time to read this entire book that im about to write in this post, skip to the end and read my story of coming home! It will make you laugh..garenteed.

Friday morning we flew out of Brisbane at 5:30am and got to our first stop, Canberra at 8am. Canberra is the capital of Australia, and not really known for anything but that. The story goes that Australians went back and forth between Sydney and Melbourne, trying to decide which would be the capital. They finally compromised and built a city half way between them and called in Canberra. There are a few memorials/important buildings that are there, but other than that its a pretty plain city so we decided to just do it all in one day (Friday).  While there we saw the old Parliment House, the new Parliment House, the war memorial, the National Museum of Australia, and ended the day with a beautiful hike to the top of a mountain that looks over the entire city! I was really glad that we got a see Canberra because it really made me realized how every country, every state, every person, has a story. As we went through our tours of the parliment houses it was really interesting to hear the stories of the government and how the became the country the are today! I guess not ever being outside of the US hit me that day, because before that I hadnt really heard the stuggles of other countries, coming from them. I have always had an “American”  view on the world, the Friday that changed.

Friday night we ended the night at a restuarant called The Debacle, where we had homemade pizzas and beer. This place has over 150 different kinds of beers, from all over the world. Needless to to say, it was the PERFECT way to end the extremely long day. That night, at 11:55pm, we got on our greyhound bus and drove overnight to Melbourne, our next adventure.

at 8am we arrived in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria. Melbourne is known as the fashion capital of Australia and is very highly spoken of as just a very neat city to visit.  We first visited the Old Melbourne Gaol, which is the old prison. It was opened in the late 1800′s and just closed down in 1994! This was such an interesting tour and we even got to participate in a reenactment of the life of prisoners at the gaol, which was fun!  The rooms that prisoners stayed in were tiny and they were usually locked up for 23 hours of the day. Ned Kelly is a famous criminal/bank robber/murderer in Australia, and actually spent some time in Melbourne Gaol, so it was interesting to learn about him. We then headed the the rental car place to pick up our two cars that we rented to drive the Great Ocean Road with! Once we sorted all of that out, we headed to Phillips Island for the Peguin Parade! Australia is home to the tiniest peguins in the world, so they stand about 1 foot tall…SO CUTE! We got to watch them come out of the water at dark and waddle up onto the shore to their little homes. They were really strict on observers NOT taking any sort of picture or video so unfortunately I have no documentation of this:( I did sneak and take a video but it didnt come out too well! Either way though, this was one of the top highlights of this trip!

Alright Day 3, Sunday, we woke up and were on the road by 7am! This is veryyy impressive because traveling with 5 boys means that you never get anywhereee on time..never. You would think its the girls that take forever to get ready or get going, but with this group its the TOTAL opposite haha! Anyways, we first headed to Torquay which is a big surfers town, with great swells and beach shops. We spent all morning there doing everything from watchin a Pro Surf competition to shopping at all the major surf shops. We then got in our cars and headed down the Great Ocean Road. This road is probably exactly how you are picturing it. It winds right along the coast, up and down the cliffs, and around the bends. We never had a bad view on the road as we were either looking directly off cliff ledges or driving along the beach. We made a few stops at lighthouses, beaches, lookouts, and waterfalls. The waterfall was probably my favorite moment of the entire trip. It was unbelieveable as it was a huge waterfall that poured into what looked like a rainforest. Please check facebook for all my pictures! We ended the night by driving into a national park and doing a glow worm walk. We didnt really know what were getting ourselves into because it was not a guided tour. It was just another trail in the national park that you could do at night..and we didnt even really know what we were looking for other than little things that hopefully glowed! We all grabbed our flashlights and walked about 1k down a path stopping every now and then and looking for glow worms. After about 1k we stopped and their were rocks FULL of glow worms and they covered the forest. It was such a spectatular thing to see as we all stood there in the middle of a forest and watched this show of glow worms. Even though Im a baby and scared to death of the dark, especially the dark of the woods, it was incredible to see and Im so glad I didnt chicken out! We ended up renting two cabins for the night in Princetown, which we never seemed to find a “town”, but we did find these cabins!

Once again, up and at them, we were on the road at 7am on Monday to make it to the 12 Apostles for sunrise. One of the most popular and well known stops of the Great Ocean Road is the 12 Apostles, which are 12 huge pointy rock structures that protrude from the oceans shore. This was truely beautiful, and although it was a cloudy morning, nothing stopped this view from being unbelieveable. After this we made a few more stops at lookouts that just blew my mind. Every stop had these huge cliff side edges that dropped down into this deep torquiose water that crashed up its side. The cliff sides had huge rock structures next to them and caves within them. My description is not even getting close to describing what I saw..and my pictures barely captured it. Well after these stops we headed back to Melbourne, stopping at St Regis vineyard on the way. There we sampled some local wine and looked out over tons of farms. Dad, they have ROUND HAIL BAILS here! I took a picture for you because I couldnt help but miss Ellerslie as we drove through tons and tons of farms. My friends actually joked that they wanted to me feel more at home so they decided to drive through the farm land on our way back haha! We got back to Melbourne at about 5, returned the cars, and then headed off the the airport, where the REAL adventure of my trip begins…to say the least.

So we get the airport nice and early and wait in line to get our boarding passes. As Im checking in, the guy at the desk tells me he cant find my name on the flight..Theres no way of this..I definitely got a confirmation email, but didnt print it out..but I know I bought a ticket. He points me in the direction of a computer that I can use so I go over there second guessing myself every step I take..maybe I didnt buy the ticket! I get to my email and open my confirmation attachment to find that I booked my flight for March 28th, yesterday at the time. No way..theres no way..yes theres a way because I make mistakes like this allll the time..but theres no way I did this with a FLIGHT! I run back and am tryin to talk to the guy and explain my situation. At this moment my friend Mark is also  having trouble with his flight..he finds out that he booked his for the 31st, the next day! haha! O geez, so Im franctically trying to get on the flight that my groups on, but he informs me that it just got sold out and the next flight is tomorrow morning at 6am. I cant do that flight I have class alll day Tuesday, and honestly am exhausted and just want to get back to Brisbane and in my bed!! I start getting very frantic so he advises me to go back to the computer (mind you that this computer is on the other side of this builing) and look for other flights on other airlines..ok I can do that. I am searching the internet like a manic and I find a virgin airlines ticket that leaves at 9pm, its 8pm right now, but I dont care Im doing it! Enter my credit card info..denied..enter my other CC info..denied! At this point all my friends have to leave to go to there gate and Mark and I stay behind. Apparently they were all telling Mark that he had to take care of me haha! So Mark and I are trying to figure this all out until he realizes that my flight leaves in an hour! He was like we have to get the Virgin Airlines desk and just buy it there! We start running down the road at this airport as I am tryin to tell him that I dont even know if that flight was from this airpot! There are 3 airports in Melbourne! We finally make it to the desk and luckily it was that airport. The guy at the desk tries to tell me to buy it online because its $15 cheaper…GIVE ME THE **** TICKET I DONT CARE ABOUT THE $15! As Im buying it he askes if its just me flying..I look at Mark and he him sweating, contimplainting whether or not he should just get on the flight too! Mark is the funniest person I know, so I really couldnt have picked a better person to go through this with. I start laughing at this point and dont stop until we land in Brisbane. Mark decides to go with it and get the ticket too, partially because I begged him to get on the flight with me..I didnt want to go alone!  So he checks his huge back pack and we are off to our gate! O before this, as we are buying our flights, the guy at the desk is telling us that we need to go have a drink..hahaha! So at this point we have about 40 minutes before our flight boards, and were running to security laughing about how typical this is of us..I know for me this mistake is no surprise to my parents…its actually very typical of me, and apparently it was the same for him. We get to security, I go through as Mark empties his pockets full of coins, papers, apples, and a water bottle..I know who knew all that could fit in pockets. Then I get through and hear him yell TAYLOR, I turn around to see him holding up his swiss army knife. On our flight to Canberra we went through this same situation with another guy AND Mark, so I could not hold in my laughter. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?! yells Mark. I was laughing so hysterically at this point that I could even yell back to him..I could barely breathe. His bag is checked and he has this knife that he need to get in his checked bag. I motion for him to run back to the desk and try to get it on the plane. He turns around and books it back to the gate.  I, on the other side of the security, am still dying laughing while all the security guards stare at me with straight faces and people are moving through. Mark makes it back and as were walking to our gate he explains to me that they had a box at the front desk that they let him put together and tape up.

Well we made it to flight and back to Brisbane to find that his package did not make it onto the moving thing with all the suitcases. We start asking around and they finally come out with this huge box! haha! That box had Marks tiny knife in it. There is soo much more detail to this story but I just cannot begin to type it because I could write forever. Please remind me to tell you this story when I get home, or ask my parents about it!

Ok Mark just read my blog and reminded me that I forgot to mention the 95 year old looking 70 year old woman who sat next to us on the plane, who cherished the quarter pounder she just got at McDonalds…haha! Yes, this is what I mean by the fact that I just have to tell you this story in person..it just keeps getting better!

My parents have requested that I also add the story of my conversation with the flight attendant! Ok so Mark and I are on the plane and the flight attendents are coming down the aisle with drinks for purchase. Being the American I am I asked if any of the drinks were complimentary. The flight attendant looked at me and questioned what I said so I repeated, you know, complimentary. He looks at me and says “You have nice hair.” What?? I look at Mark who is just as confused..” I have nice hair? …Thanks.” He responds with “Well thats the only compliment I could come up with, sorry”, hahaha! Unfortunately, nothing was FREE, but later on in the flight the flight attendant brings me a canned whiskey and coke and says ” You ordered a coke ma am?.. No worries, its on me, but you still have nice hair.” Little did he know, he had just completed my night. As I got off the plane, I thanked him so much and told him he had NO idea how much I needed that. Its little gestures like that that make Australian’s so unique. This guy wasnt hitting on me, or trying to impress me, he was just being a genuinely nice guy, and he had no idea how much it meant to me:) 

Thank you parents for being so understanding of my mistake and waste of money..Im glad I could laugh about it with you! I promise I will grow up one day..just probably not in the near future:)

The European Trip

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Well Folks, Friday was my last class in Cork. I now have the month of April off before the exam month in May. With three finals in four weeks, I’m looking forward to some quality bloggin time to tell you all about the academic side of my travels here, which I will openly admit to have neglected. But that will all have to wait for May. Because tomorrow, I begin the big trip- the one to Europe! My parents flew in yesterday (due to time zone changes plus Irish daylight savings time, I think they are a bit exhausted- this is find it gives me the opportunity to be a bloggin’). Tomorrow afternoon we’re leaving for Dublin and we’re all flying to Germany, where I will get to meet my mom and dad’s German family and see all of the places the loved when they lived there. They leave us on April the 5th, then the backpacking adventure begins!

ITINERARY

March 30: Depart from Dublin with Mom & Dad
March 31- April 4: Germany with the Cutler’s
April 5: Mom leaves; we leave for Heidelberg
April 6: Heidelberg
April 7: leave Heidelberg
April 8: Salzburg
April 9: Salzburg
April 10: leave Salzburg Arrive in Venice
April 10- 16: VENICE with Meghan!!!
April 16: Leave Venice, go to Florence
April 17: Florence
April 18: Florence, leave Florence, go to Rome
April 19: Rome
April 20: Rome
April 21: leave Rome, go to Naples and Pompeii
April 22: Naples
April 23: Naples, leave Naples, go to Pisa
April 24: Pisa, leave for Pisa (at end of the day) and go to Paris
April 25: Paris
April 26: Paris
April 27: leave Paris, go to Brussels
April 28: Brussels
April 29: Leave Brussels, head to London
April 30: London
May 1: Leave London, head back to Cork

I’m looking forward to the hotel in Venice with Meghan, and to- ok, basically I’m looking forward to EVERYTHING! It’ll be a busy, busy month, but I think it will fly by! I’ll leave it all there, I suppose and will say good bye for the next month. I’ll keep track of my travels for sure, though, and bore you with them when I return!

Slan Leat!

Cardiff and Liverpool pt. 2

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

After registering for classes I went to Grand Central, supposedly a very cool place to shop, but I was thoroughly unimpressed. I walked on the main drag for a I don’t know ho long, wandered through an avant garde art gallery called Blue Coat and got dinner for the first and second night as well as some milk at Marks and Spencers. I spent the rest of the night either eating or watching the telly which made the night incredibly enjoyable for me (because at this point my expectations were just that low.) During the second day I actually did quite a lot and got lost which was less fun than the rest of the day. I got up around 8:40am of my own volition, had breakfast and headed out. I went to Albert Dock, got a bit confused as to how to get to the Beatles exhibition, but finally figured it out after staring at a map for a while. I was a really good exhibition, but since I already know so much about the Beatles, what I enjoyed about the exhibition were the interviews with various characters from the band’s history like Sir George Martin and Brian Epstein. I got little gifts for the family in the gift shop (which they always make you exit through), spent a lot of time in another Liverpool-based gift shop before heading to the tourist information point to get a ticket for a Beatles tour called “The Magical Mystery Tour.” I had lunch at the Tate Liverpool’s cafe, strolled through their main exhibit (and got nicely yelled at for taking a picture of Duchamp’s “Fountain”). My favourite part of the museum (besides seeing Dali’s lobster telephone), was an exhibit on sculpture and the depiction of the human form which incorporated a pre-selected soundtrack. Not only were the sculptures very interesting, but the use of music made the whole thing more memorable. I got Sophie a gift and a couple of postcards at the shop. I then wasted time wandering around Albert Dock and got starred at by a gaggle of idiotic boys while having a cuppa. Then it was time for the tour. What I enjoyed most about the tour was that it added little personal touches to the history I already know. Also the tour guide was very amusing and has met Paul McCartney several times. I bought more Beatles memorabilia, got lost trying to go back to the hostel, but finally made my way there. I spent another night watching telly and packed my things to get ready to leave for London the next morning.
The trip back was thoroughly uneventful and I’ve mostly unpacked everything from my move to the new room. My Mum arrives tomorrow, which I’m really excited about. Finally, I got my marks for music radio and I got a B for the class. Hurrah me. Until next time, don’t panic.

Cardiff and Liverpool pt. 1

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

:sigh: I’m back from Cardiff and Liverpool. Have been for over 24 hours. It’s almost daunting the amount I have to say about my adventures in the south west/north west. Thankfully, I brought a notebook with me so I can quickly summarize my deep thoughts and numerous adventures. Some of what will be relayed are exact quotations from what I wrote while I was in Cardiff and Liverpool while some will be summaries. I won’t differentiate between the two, but I just wanted to say that. So let’s start at the beginning.
Things started out smoothly enough. I got on the right train and made it to Cardiff Central with no issue. Getting to the Queen Street station and then the hostel were far trickier. Eventually though I made my way to the hostel, slightly damp and very tired. However it was only 2:30, so after a bit of a nap, I wandered around Cardiff central (as my guidebook describes it) and figured out why people make fun of Wales all the time. The weather is crap and it’s not exactly the most exciting city known to man. However, it has its good qualities (I’m sure) I just happened to be there when they weren’t showing. But that was the first day. The second day was slightly better.
The second day was very eventful for me. I got up ridiculously early (after getting up ridiculously early the day before and would be doing again the next day) so I could get breakfast before the kitchen closed. I then spent some time reading about Eleanor of Aquitaine and listening to the Chris Moyles show which I find extremely comforting and irritating at the same time. I then proceeded by foot and bus to Cardiff Bay. Of course the weather was only partially on my side but the rain held off until I got back to Queen Street. First the Bay. I got a good picture of the Millenium Centre and the fountain (aka the entrance to Torchwood before heading to the Doctor Who exhibition. The exhibition was stuffed with costumes and props from the past four series and specials. I took lots of pictures of Daleks, Cybermen, K-9, and lots of other thing as well as getting some very cute figurines of all of my favourite New Who baddies. I then whiled away an hour or so by taking some pictures around the bay and having two cups of mint tea before getting lunch at a great French restaurant. After lunch I whiled away some more time, got a history of Wales and a book mark before hopping a bus back to the city centre. From there I proceeded down Queen Street to Cardiff Castle where it started to rain in earnest. Nonetheless, I climbed to the top of the keep, went through the house and got another stuffed animal as well as two more postcards. Then after a stop and Marks and Spencers, I went back to the hostel and relaxed by checking my email and reading about Eleanor some more.
The journey from Cardiff to Liverpool was much more confusing than from London to Cardiff. I got to Central station just fine, but getting to my first change in Crewe proved very tricky. I ended up waiting a half hour in Newport. My head, which had been killing me since the beginning of the week, continued to pain me. Finally I got on a train to Crewe and then a train to Liverpool Lime Street, all the while worrying about whether I was going to get to a computer in time to register for classes. Once I got to Liverpool I found it was much easier to get to my hostel than it had been in Cardiff and I registered for classes. I got all of them and in the next entry I’ll tell you about Liverpool.

La Ruta Maya (as seen by non-paddlers)!

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Okay, 2 weeks late, but as promised: photos from La Ruta Maya!

DAT Team! DAT (Creole for “that”) used to stand for our team’s initials (Danielle, Alyssa, Tori), but then Eric replaced Danielle at the last minute and we technically should have been EAT…but we were already registered, so we just stuck to DAT team, calling Eric “Dude” all weekend.

Downtown San Ignacio at the start of day one. I have NEVER seen so many people in San Ignacio! The bridge everyone is standing on was 1,000 feet from the start; the first team to reach the bridge received a cash prize! But because 100 boats all tried to squeeze under it at the same time, many boats flipped right away. There were kids swimming by the bank, waiting for people to flip so they could grab then unfortunate team’s gatorade and candy bars for a snack later in the race!

The start of day one! This photo was taken by Hannah Aitken (my Environmental Education teaching partner!) from the steel Hawksworth bridge that we cross every morning to get to school.

The start of day 2. I’m in the yellow boat on the right(ish) side with “Big Rock” taped to the stern. They called us “big rock” because we “paddle that boat like you paddle a big rock!” haha. Other interesting cheers included “Go Gringos! GO!” and “Only 156 miles to go girls! Lets go! Lets go!”

The start of day 2-if only it stayed this cool and misty all day…

The Safety boat! Throughout the race, we would go on these 3-4 hour stretches without seeing another human being or boat, then we would finally turn a bend to see this safety crew cheering us on and checking to make sure we were still alive and sane. The first day we found them, we literally screamed out with joy.

DAT Team at the end of day 3! Almost there! (Me, Alyssa, Eric)

Just crossed the finish line! 180 miles and the craziest experience of my 20 year old life-done.

Spring In Virginia

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

I’m on my iPod. It’s 68 degrees in both Vienna and Buenos Aires. I’m upset that I’m skipping my favorite season this year!

A reflection on “Chinese Cinderella”

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

For my Literature class, we had to read “Chinese Cinderella: The Secret Story of an Unwanted Daughter” by Adeline Yen Mah.
It’s a children’s story based off Mah’s book for adults “Falling Leaves” which is about Mah’s childhood in China during and after the WWII as the fifth child in her family. She was called “Wu Mei” which means fifth daughter.
Wu Mei’s mother died giving birth to her, so Wu-Mei is raised in a household where her full brothers and sister despise her for “killing” their mother and where the Step-Mom hates her step-children. The Step Mom particularly hates Wu-Mei because she does not try to suck up to the Step Mom like Wu Mei’s older sister does. Wu Mei’s father gives into all of his new wife demands, so the Wu-Mei is almost always treated as if she is worthless. The only people who really care about her in the story is her Nei Nei (Gma) who dies early on, her YeYe (Gpa) and her Aunt Baba.

Unfortunately, YeYe and Aunt Baba have practically no power in the household ruled by the Step Mom, so Wu Mei has to deal with her siblings and Step Mom constantly berating her. As a result, Wu Mei turns to school and achieving well there so that her father can be proud of her for once. Despite her numerous academic achievements, her family claims she shows off too much by winning awards; only the Aunt really seems to care about Wu Mei’s good grades.

Halfway through the book, some of Wu Mei’s friends show up at her house to celebrate Wu Mei’s election as class president. However, she is not allowed to have friends over and as a result, her parents flip out, declare she brings “shame” to the family and shuttle her off to boarding schools far away from her friends and family.

Throughout the next four years Wu Mei is trapped at different boarding schools, made fun of for having clothes that don’t fit because her parents won’t give her extra money, all her letters to her aunt and gpa are never delivered and she never receives mail from her family. Her father doesn’t even remember what her legal first names are (Adeline Jun-Ling) or her birthday. Wu Mei herself doesn’t even know her exact birthday because the family deemed only the Step Mother’s children will celebrate their birthday.

I won’t ruin the ending of this book which was kind of bittersweet and instead I will focus on why I am writing this blog post today.

The whole time I was reading this book, I kept feeling incredulous of how much of a “Witch” the Step-mom is and how awful Wu Mei’s family is to her.

For example, one of the things the Step Mom says to Wu Mei is,
“Not only are you are liar and a thief but you are manipulative as well. Nothing will ever come of you. The problem is that you have bad blood from your mother. You don’t deserve to be housed and fed here. Girls like you should be sent away. You don’t belong in this house!”

I can’t even imagine how it would feel as a 10 year old to have your “parent” tell you these things.

Other things happen in the book similar to this where this little girl is treated worse the family dog that not only ripped open her arm, but also killed her only pet, a duck she called “Precious Little Thing.” In fact, at one point the girl said she wished she was the family dog!

When I was reading this, at the end of almost every chapter, I kept thinking how lucky I am to have the awesome, loving parents I have and my sisters who, though we fought a ton when we were younger, were never cruel to me and loved me too.

My heart goes out to this little girl who struggled so much during her childhood to find acceptance from her parents and never really got it.

This books really makes me think a lot about emotionally/physically abusive families and how much children suffer. It makes me want to do something to stop this, because every child deserves to have a family that loves and cares about them. Nobody deserves to be treated like a “worthless”!

I know that what happened in this book was 60 years ago, but still there are children out there with really horrible families, and these children deserve a better life.

So I will end this post with part of Mah’s preface to the book, which is dedicated to those “who were neglected and unloved as children”:
“Mother Teresa once said that ‘loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted are the greatest poverty’. To this I will add: ‘Please believe that one single positive dream is more important than a thousand negative realities.’”

Ps. I also really want to read the adult version of the novel and see how it compares to the children novel because I’m sure there would be more detailed/complex issues brought into play.