Chapter I Going Somewhere Closer to Home
After being bombarded with emergency emails for a week, Renee and I finally got two tickets back to China with help from our lovely Yveta and Thea at NYU Prague. I ditched my business class flight so that I could have my close friend with me during this heart-breaking time of departure.
My friends at the Czech Technology University, who I met during my internship, insisted that I visit the Petřín Lookout Tower. They showed me around the Prague Castle one last time. As we walked up the hill, I remembered the night when we went to a concert at Jazz Dock. Yveta told us how beautiful the hill would be in the spring when the flowers blossom.
Standing tall, I looked at the sea of red roofs extending to the horizon. In this city, I saw myself walking across the bridge spanning the Vltava river after a grand performance at the National Theater; I saw myself attempting to distinguish Gothic architecture from Renaissance during a class field trip…
What a life I had in Prague – though like a butterfly it fluttered away before I knew it.
Prague, Amsterdam, Xiamen, Guangzhou, plus an hour-long car ride, Renee and I got back to her home in Foshan safe and sound. Although I was still hundreds of miles away from my home, Nanjing, it was nice to be quarantined in a new city (even though I could only stay in the room). It was like a teeny-tiny extension to my study abroad experience.
Chapter II Going Home
You don’t ever have to act cooler than you think you should
You’re brighter than the brightest stars
Lana Del Rey was on the radio when my father picked me up at Nanjing Airport.
The tears burst forth, spilling down my face behind the medical mask.
There’s no place like home, but it is a sad place to be when you are grieving the loss of somewhere else.
Chapter III Staying Home
Everything is getting back to normal in China. Not only staying cautious, I stay home simply because I do not enjoy wearing a mask and always showing my QR code to security. (In China, we have a QR code to show your travel history and contact with potential patients.)
At least the Sunday Scoop and the Internet are here to save the day. Virtual tours on NYU Prague’s Instagram page, Zoom session with Lea (the wellness counselor), and lots of lots of Netflix. For a student who sometimes cannot figure out Wifi, Zoom is unexpectedly easy for me to navigate: either joining a class live in the evening or watching a recording of the classes that are scheduled past midnight.
On the flip side, my new class schedule gives me big chunks of free time during the day. I started my sourdough starter journey which I have always wanted to do. I named my starter 酸酸 which means sour and its pronunciation resembles my Chinese nickname. Every night, I put 酸酸 on my nightstand so that we can dream about bread together. This sounds borderline weird. In my defense, sourdough starter is alive- it needs to be fed and grows.
“You get up at 2 am for this… and not for our class at 1 am?” Beatrice asked me in awe during our virtual hangout with Slezska staff.
“Well, I cannot stay up until 1 a.m. twice every week. But there is only one chance to see our lovely RA :)”