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July 28, 2011

It's always been interesting to see how my hometown has changed through the past few years. I still remember two years ago when I visited, one of the malls have "upgraded" and housed all these expensive brands like Versace and Louis Vuitton. This time, not only does that mall expanded, but also another one of the very popular malls upgraded and now there are like...two Salvatore Ferragamo boutiques 15 minutes apart in one city. There is also another new mall with these world-class brands like Burberry opened up in another part of the city where I visited. It's situated in a new popular living community far from the old center of the city (because many more people have cars to drive to more distant places now). And the mall itself should count as the largest in Suzhou (even though many spaces are still empty yet.) It has plenty of in-door and out-door spaces. And the facilities around it are amazing. There is also another mall closer to the city center that is more "American". It is one of those giant building with "everything" - Walmart, food places, clothing boutiques, Sephora, car sales, real estates, etc - in it. It is quite awesome because I actually found H&M, Mango, and Zara there. I went there a couple of times because the clothes I can buy there are actually acceptable in the States! :D I bought a halter summer dress at H&M after all. Those were some great shopping experiences since G-ville does not have H&M, or Mango, or Zara.

Another observation of mine was how college entrance exam is so nerve-wrecking for Chinese parents and students. After I arrived in the evening of June 3rd, I couldn't really hang out with most of the people I know because they were in their last days of preparing for that exam which took place on the 7th, 8th, and 9th. I didn't make an appearance on the morning of the 7th at the exam sites to say good-luck to them as I felt they would not want to see me. But I did go in the afternoon on the 9th. Since it was the last day of the exams, there were many TV people ready to interview the parents and the college-freshman-to-bes. I went with a friend who went back to Suzhou 3 months before me from Canada. I also met other friends there who weren't taking the exam. But mostly, there were parents and grandparents waiting nervously outside the gate. It was a very warm day. I'd say it was above 95 degrees and it was a very sunny day. I felt slightly...wrong as I pushed through the crowd to get to the front of the people. I mean, I wasn't really there for anyone. I was just there for fun, for the sake of being there. But anyway, I thought I just came along with a friend. It wasn't my idea at first after all. I saw a couple of people I know including two of my very good friends. They looked relieved.

After a couple of weeks, the results came back. Some of my friend did really well. Some of them got into the schools they wanted to go to. Some of them were angry. Some of them were sad. However, at a time like this, most of their feelings whether positive or negative, were toward themselves. No one but the system should be blamed. Yet nothing can change the system. It is quiet pathetic. The only thing I figured out in this situation was to be optimistic no matter what happens.

There are yet other observations. But they will seek their way out into the world in more posts.

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