Freshman Jacqueline Chao is from Beijing. She transferred in the second semester from the Changyang Foreign Language School.
Q: What’s unique about Beijing?
A: Beijing is the capital. It has really nice historical sites. The pollution there is pretty severe, though.
Q: Whom are you staying with?
A: With my host family. They are really nice people. I’m an only child, but there are two kids in the host family. One is 13, and one is 11.
I’m not with my parents, but we FaceTime every day.
Q: Why did you decide to continue high school in America? A: I was looking for a challenge. Everything is completely different here. In China there are just tests and papers. I was looking for something else, with more personality.
Q: Why did you come in the second semester?
A: It seemed like a good time. We completed the interview by (Brooke) Wells (head of high school) and Lonna (Bloedau, director of admission); it was quite nice.
Q: What was your first impression of SCDS?
A: I think it’s a really beautiful campus. The people here are really friendly.
Q: What is your favorite class?
A: I quite like French. The teacher (Richard Day) is really funny, and we only have four people in the class, so it’s a really cozy atmosphere.
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: I do photography, I like tennis and I swim. I might join the teams if the opportunity comes.
A corner of the forbidden city of Beijing stands proud, as the light touches it. “It’s a small building on a corner," Chao explained. "They have one on each corner, and it makes a square. It was frozen. Part of it was water, and part of it was ice.”
Traditional Beijing architecture is shown in the neighborhoods of the famed capital. “It’s a small alleyway with a lot of different families living there,” Chao said. “Most of them are torn apart because the government needs a place for new buildings.”
An unknown woman gazes out an open window in Xian, China. “I held a camera at a grandmother,” Chao said. “She seemed embarrassed, so she turned away.” Chao said that this photo is important because “it was one of my first pictures of people or strangers, since most of my pictures are of landscapes or views.”
A vibrant building in Rome is dissected by the sun’s rays. “I really liked the lighting on it, so I took a picture,” Chao said. “I travel a lot. I usually travel with my mother, sometimes on tours or we go by ourselves. We went to a different place every summer vacation and on long vacations.”
Chao ascends the stairs leading up to a palace in France. “We went inside the palace, too,” she said. “It was beautiful in there, (truly) magnificent. It was really a beautiful place.”
Chao went with her parents and some of their friends on an approximately seven-day long trip to the Seychelles. “It’s a long flight,” Chao said. “First we went to Ethiopia; then we transferred to Seychelles. In total it was 20 hours.”
The illuminated Golden Gate Bridge is radiant at 7 p.m. “Before coming to Sacramento, my parents and I stayed in San Francisco,” Chao said. “We were there for a week.”
Rolling waves crash along the shore of the Monterey Bay. “I took (the photo) at a vista point. It’s a section of the California Highway One,” Chao said. This was a continuation of her San Francisco trip.
(photos by Chao; slideshow by Mohini Rye)
Q: What do you miss the most about China?
A: I really miss the food there. Food in China has a really strong taste.
I’m a foodie. I don’t have a favorite food, really.
I haven’t tried the Chinese food here yet, but I’m sure it will be good.
Q: How are you transitioning from China to the United States?
A: My language is not bad, so it’s quite easy to transition.
Q: Do you still keep in contact with your friends from China?
A: Yeah, but they are really busy now with finals and quizzes.
Q: What are some differences between SCDS and the Chaoyang Foreign Language School?
A: Here the students have more freedom. They can decide hair color and what they wear. In China we have uniforms and have to have our hair cut. The bangs have to be above the eyebrows, and the rest above the ear. (That’s why my hair is so short right now.)
We have a really big classroom in China, at least 40 people. I see the same people every day. The class is also not active; the teachers talk and we take notes.
Q: What’s your favorite vacation?
A: On National Day [National Day is a public holiday in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that celebrates the founding of PRC. It is celebrated annually on Oct. 1] we went to the Seychelles. They’re islands on the Indian Ocean and very close to (East) Africa. There were cool views, and it was very beautiful. We went sightseeing, and I took lots of photos.
The culture is also different because it’s in Africa.