Jan. 29, 2007

A home away from China

Melody Nanjing is finding life to be a bit more relaxing here

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Other than the cold winter weather, Melody Nanjing is enjoying her time in Minnesota as a foreign exchange student.

Nanjing, 16, is from China, and is staying with her host parents, Keith and Theresa Hauck of Darwin.

This is her first time to America and living the American lifestyle, which, compared to her Chinese lifestyle, is a bit different, especially when it comes to school.

In China, Nanjing and other Chinese students spend most of their time going to school and studying, she said.

Here at Dassel-Cokato, school and homework is much easier, she said. Nanjing has more time to enjoy life in America, instead of studying all the time.

Her host parents have even noticed she has become more relaxed than when she first arrived.

“She read a lot,” in Nanjing’s first days at the Haucks, Keith said.

Now, instead of studying all the time, Nanjing gets to watch TV and have fun with her friends, she said.

“It’s more relaxed here,” she said.

When the Haucks met Nanjing at the airport, Keith went to greet her. Nanjing said, “Are you my dad for a year?”

Nanjing participates in athletics, but is currently out on an ankle injury from basketball. In China, there are no after-school activities, she said.

The Haucks communicate with her family back home using a translator and a web camera. When it was time to tell her mother about the sprained ankle, it translated into a broken leg. This caused for some hysteria until her mother got to see Nanjing’s foot for herself.

Nanjing has also found that in China, kids show more respect to their elders and teachers.

“You don’t talk back to your parents,” she said, which is something she has noticed is not the case in America. This is also an area her host mother takes very seriously as well.

Class sizes are much larger in China schools, with classes consisting of 50 or more students.

Nanjing was also amazed about the visibility of the stars. The Haucks live on Lake Stella and the stars are quite bright, much brighter than in China because of the pollution, Nanjing said.

While she is here, Nanjing wants to find a college to study psychology in America and prepare for it by taking the SATs or ACTs for that college.

Also, she wants to go to Disney World, Valley Fair, and the Mall of America.

Nanjing will have a party Saturday, Feb. 17 to celebrate the Chinese New Year, with food and friends.

With her host mother being from the Philippines and her host father having lived temporarily in Asia for the Air Force, they can easily relate to Nanjing and her culture.

This comes in handy when it is time to eat dinner. Theresa makes foods similar to the Chinese food Nanjing is accustomed to. When asked if the Chinese restaurants in America are similar to the food in China, she replied that there is more meat to accommodate to American’s tastes. They eat much more vegetables in China, she said.

Although the Haucks’ older kids are out of the house, they still have three “little ones;” two cats and a dog, Hershey.

Nanjing isn’t too impressed with one of the cats, who she calls Terror, because the cat takes things from her room and puts it into the bathroom.

All-in-all, Nanjing is having a fun time in America with her host family and friends at DC.

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