Flashback: China

A little while ago, a piece of mine was posted on the website of KidSpirit. Below is the full article and be sure to check out the site as well! 🙂

I wear clothes, eat food, and use other various products daily. You do too? What a coincidence.

This summer, I spent 5 weeks with a study abroad group in China. Without my parents. And I realized, among other more educational linguistic things, that those clothes, food and other things are really nice, but they cost money. I know, weird right?

In all honesty, I am not a big spender even back home. But here, with my awkward food clock, my random cravings, the pretty things at all the shops and some sheer necessities, I had to loosen up my purse strings. At first, I was cautious. Then, reckless. I mean, who knows when I’ll be back in China? And then I got worried, because all those big numbers made me feel irresponsible, like I was wasting money on things like my daily ice cream or having noodles instead of the bland cafeteria rice. But once I did the conversions and started getting a better sense of what things were worth (for instance, an ice cream for 32 cents), I relaxed a little.

It took some adjusting to get used to spending 100¥ a day and reassuring myself that it was just 20 dollars. But my parents imparted upon me some nice bits of wisdom, in classic philosophical style. My dad said something like, “If you only spend up to 20 dollars for one thing, then it’s not at all a crisis, or a waste of money. It’s a learning experience.”

Towards the end of the trip, when I thought I was sailing smoothly, I hit a little snag. I had lost my headphones and had gone to the mall in search of a new pair. I stopped by the Apple Help Store which looked like a legitimate store. They said they sold two different kinds of headphones: ones with a mic and ones without. The ones with a mic cost around double the other ones. However, the pairs didn’t look all that different. To err on the safe side, I bought the pair with a mic. At home after my purchase, I checked out the Apple website, only to find that they don’t make mic-less headphones and that I’d overpaid for mine regardless. I learned a couple of lessons that day. First, even if you think you’ve mastered something, there’s always room for improvement, so don’t get overconfident. Second, always do your research and check all your options before you buy something that seems like a weightier purchase or that costs more than your $20 trial threshold.


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