Monday, May 25, 2009

Cancellation in Plans

First of all, to those who wished me a Happy Birthday, thank you!! Especially since I didn't make any announcement of it on my blog.

My birthday was actually pretty meh. I spent most of the time on the road to Chicago with my parents (my brothers stayed home). I celebrated Memorial Day weekend with my uncle's family and my grandparents (who were in town for a wedding). Consequently, I wasn't able to get on the internet long enough to post.

Anyway, as originally mentioned in this post, I was supposed to leave for Beijing on May 31st and come back to the US on June 27th. It was going to be awesome. Well, cancellation in plans. It looks like I'm not going. And here's how it went down.

3-4 weeks ago my grandparents called my great-uncle in Beijing to see if I could stay with him and his family. Also around this time, China was becoming a little worried about swine flu. So my grandpa also asked whether my great-uncle could find me somewhere else to live instead if I couldn't live with him. My great-uncle agreed.

Then suddenly cases of swine flu began popping up in Beijing and especially in Japan. As most US flights into Beijing must first stop by Japan, Beijing was getting nervous. About 2 weeks ago, my great-uncle called my uncle and grandparents to inform them that people were being quarantined as soon as they stepped off the plane if anyone on that plane was suspected to have swine flu. Several hundred people have been quarantined for a week in specific hospitals; granted, the vast majority of those people were fine. It was suggested that it would be better if I didn't go.

Well, my friends JW-M (currently in Beijing) and RZ-F (landing in Beijing soon) both felt it would be fine for me to go, that the Chinese were just overreacting and that I wouldn't really be personally affected. I held my ground against my parents and was still fairly set on going and taking my chances. I suggested that I could stay with JW-M for a week or so and then reside in RZ-F's Beijing apartment, because she'll be living with her relatives. And I could live in a hotel or hostel in the interim as I move between the two places.

My parents were yielding, mainly because my grandparents were on my side all the way to the end. It was looking up. Until yesterday. My grandpa again called my great-uncle and great-aunt to see if they could secure me another place to live while I was in Beijing. My great-aunt had been looking into student exchange-type things, where I'd live with a local family and teach their kid(s) English and they'd teach me Chinese and give me tips on traveling in the area. However, no one wants Americans to live with them. Word by mouth had been passed down through several communities in Beijing to avoid foreigners if at all possible. If an American would to stay with a family, even if the American were a relative, that household would be temporarily "ostracized" until the swine flu hype was over. Social stigma by association - it's a bitch.

With that, my grandparents were convinced that it was best that I didn't go. My grandparents didn't want to "guilt" my great-uncle further into letting me stay with them. My grandparents and parents knew all too well how the Chinese think in this respect, and while they also believe it's an overreaction, it wouldn't be a good idea to go if the people were going to be unwelcoming. And because my grandparents effectively have the final say in the family, that was that. I'm not going. T.T


Anonymous said...

I'm really sorry Aek, I know you were looking forward to the trip for a while. :'(

Mike said...

AAAAW!!! Sorry to hear about that!!! Happy belated Birthday, btw!!! I haven't been following the facebook updates religiously since they're so hard to find now! HEHE

Seth said...

Sorry to hear that :(

Maybe you can make something work out in the near future?

E said...

Sorry to hear that your trip didn't happen. You should see it more as an indefinite hold than a cancellation. Sounds as if Your grandparents really fought for you. I think they'll make sure you get another chance :-)

Jeremy said...

Aww I'm sorry D:

*curses the swine flu*

*also hugs*

tracy said...

Awwww, i'm really sorry AEK....that is really awful...especially to get your hopes up, only to have them crushed at the last minute. i hope you can get something else going very soon.

Happy Late Birthday, you young 'un! :)

Aek said...

Thanks everyone. While I'm SUPER-disappointed, there's always a bright side. At least I can get to things now rather than when I come back in late June. Exceedingly mundane matters, really, but things that must be done before med school starts.

E: Yes, I'm sure my grandparents will find a way to create another opportunity for me, assuming that I don't find the next one myself. :P

naturgesetz said...

A couple of weeks ago my brother told us of a case where someone on a plane coming into Japan did not pass their screening. Everybody on the plane was locked up for a week. So in addition to not embarrassing your family, there is a real danger of quarantine.

Glad you can see a silver lining to the big disappointment.