21 September 2018
I want adventure in the great wide somewhere.
This “Beauty and the Beast” lyric has resonated with me since I was a child growing up in small-town Pennsylvania. I related to Belle on a personal level, always wanting more, looking for interesting things to happen whether they be positive or negative. As I was watching this film for the umpteenth time with my host family last weekend, I began to ponder what the lyric has meant to me.
Like Belle when she first arrived in the castle, these first few weeks in China have been rough for me. Changes are never easy for me, but this felt different. Nothing was exciting me nor was it disappointing me. I was just going through the motions, and it felt pretty terrible. I forgot why I wanted to come to China in the first place. I felt like Belle locked in the dungeon. Then, I began to make connections with my classmates, the enchanted household items of my trip, the schedule began to solidify and made days go by swiftly, and I took the time to absorb and explore the world (castle) around me.
Some of my favorite explorations so far have been riding alone in a sketchy three-wheeled cart, sitting introspectively on the Great Wall and taking in the immensity and beauty of my first wonder of the world, playing badminton with my host mom, searching for American food among the noodles and rice, tasting duck (“Be Our Guest”, am I right?), and snapping pictures of every piece of Peppa Pig merchandise I can find.
This is my adventure. This is the great, wide somewhere I have been seeking. The Beast locking me up is Chinese class, the Gaston chasing after me is sickness, mental and physical, and the magical utensils providing me with support are my classmates. Most people where I am from do not travel to other countries; they get stuck in their “little town,” and I never wanted that for myself. I chose to travel to China because of the immensity of the Great Wall, the expansiveness of cities, and the adventure of it all. I am no longer thinking of this trip as a three and a half month cross-cultural, but as the adventure that has always eluded me.