Alex had a fun day at his school. He got an A plus for his filming project. On the way home, he is thinking about his 8th birthday party at Skateland Savoy on Curtis at the end of this month. He is quite excited. He even thinks about who to add to his party guest list, which already has over 30 names. As soon as he arrives home, he overhears his parent’s conversation. “Wait, they are talking about China”, he thinks. He gets excited, so he shouts to get his parents’ attention. “Are we going to take a trip to China for Winter break?” His parents look surprised when they hear his voice. They look at Alex as if they have something to say, but then they look at each other and remain silent. Alex can smell that something is not right.
He asks again, “Are we going to visit China this year?”
“How about you eat some dinner first, then we can talk about it later. Maybe before bedtime?” Mom says.
“No, why? I want to talk about it now,” Alex insists.
His mom takes a deep breath and looks at his dad as she is waiting for him to start. “I got a job in China. We are going to move to China for at least a year.”
Alex is surprised. He has never thought about living anywhere else permanently. He is suddenly wordless. He goes straight to his room and shuts the door behind him.
[[The next morning]] Dad makes Alex his favorite breakfast. He puts a glass of milk on the table and starts to mention about the moving plan. His dad has a good job opportunity as a professor at Zhejiang International University, and his mom also is able to get her Ph.D. in Health Science there, which she has dreamed about since Alex was born.
Do you think Alex will [[Move to China]] or [[Stay in the US]]? Mom and dad move soon after Alex’s birthday. They put their house up for rent and get busy shopping for the trip. Their last day in the US is an unforgettable day.
It’s a long flight from Chicago to Shanghai. Alex is tired after 14 hours travelling. This is the longest flight he has had in his entire life. He can't wait to get out of “the box” as he describes the plane.
Their family spend three days in Shanghai and then take a bus to his dad’s university, which is two hours away from Shanghai. Alex has two months to decide where he want to live. He can live in Haining, which is a small town, near his parents’ school, or he can live in Hangzhou, which is a big city an hour away from Haining, in which case his parents must commute to work every day.
Do you want Alex to stay in [[Haining]] or [[Hangzhou]]? Alex shuts the door behind himself after listening to his parents’ announcement. He tosses and turns all night thinking about what his life will be like in China, without seeing his friends, his favorite Math teacher, and many other things. So many things are going on his head right now that he starts to cry. His parents are standing quietly outside of his room.
The next morning, Alex wakes up and sees his mom sitting next to his bed.
Mom says, “Sweetie, I know it’s hard to move to a new country. But don't worry, we can figure it out. Your dad and I worked so hard to get this opportunity, but if it's too stressful for you, we can stay here. Or, if you like, you can live with your grandma and we will visit you every two months.”
Will Alex choose [[All of Them Live in The US]] or [[Alex decides to live with grandma]]?
Haining is a small, quiet town. Alex’s family live in a staff apartment provided by the university. There is not much to do in the town. [[Local school]]They decide to live in Hangzhou, where Alex can study at an international school.
[[Getting to Know a New Life]]
His parents changed their mind. They thought that they were selfish to just think about themselves. Alex needs to be around his friends and receive a good education. His dad tries to look for another job in the States. His mom continues to work as part-time staff at a small office so that she can take care of the family.
[[Dad can’t Find a Job]]
Alex thinks that moving to China is a crazy idea, but he doesn’t want to upset his parents. He knows how hard they have worked for this opportunity. He prefers to stay with his grandma in Cailfornia.
[[First Time Living with Grandma]]
Alex’s parents send Alex to a local school. He has a hard time studying Chinese. His teacher can speak very little English to him. They use Google translation to communicate.
Alex's parents meet a student who can speak English well and hire him to teach Alex Chinese. The student also helps Alex to make other Chinese friends in order to exchange languages.
[[Loneliness]] Sadly, his dad can’t get a job at Parkland as a lecturer. He works so hard for the interview, so he is upset. He keeps trying to apply to some other places. His mom is the main provider in their family. They are all stressed about their financial situation.
[[Alex can’t go to Countryside]] Alex can't study at his favorite school because the tuition is too expensive.
[[Everyone is Unhappy]] Mom works hard, and Dad is stressed by looking for a job. Alex can’t go to his favorite school. They are all unhappy.
[[Reconsidering going to China]] They convince Alex to go to China for a semester. They can move back to the States if things do not work out.
[[Move to China]] Even though Alex studies hard, he is still behind in the class. He used to be an A student, but now he fails behind his peers. His parents think about moving to Hangzhou so that he can study in an international school.
His parents learn how to do online shopping on Taobao. They can buy all kinds of US ingredients and food and have it shipped to their house. Mom makes Alex his favorite: five-cheese pizza. He starts to feel at "home" again.
[[Making Local Friends]]
Alex loves to hang out with his Chinese friends after school. His ability to speak Chinese grows quickly. His parents are so happy for him.
[[Exploring the world’s cuisine]] Alex was picky when he was in the US. However, the game has changed since he moved to China. He likes Chinese street food and dares to try new things such as chicken feet, chicken tongue, etc. as well as Chinese traditional foods. He has sleepovers with his classmates so that he can get closer to Chinese home cooking, which is totally different from street food.
[[Traveling around Asia]] His parents take Alex to visit famous places in China as well as other parts of Asia. He enjoys the trips and his new life in China so far.
[[ Last Decision]] A year has passed since the last decision. This is the time for Alex to make another important decision. Their family makes a special night go out for dinner and a movie. Before bedtime, Mom and Dad ask Alex, ”Do you want to stay here for another year or go back to the States?” Alex answers their question without a thought, “I want to stay!,”
[[Ending]] It is hard to start a new life in a foreign country at first, but things get better when Alex gets familiar with the new place. Alex has done many new things in China that he never thought he would do before.
Mom and Dad help to pack all of Alex's stuff and send him over to grandma’s house. They help him to settle down and find him a school nearby. Grandma will send him to school every day. Although he loves his grandma, he starts feeling lonely as soon as his parents leave.
[[Problems with Grandma occur]] Grandma and Alex used to tease his parents that he would move to live with his grandma one day, and he believes that that day has come true now. However, it is not like what he dreamed about. Grandma loves him, but she is not Mom. She doesn’t understand him well, so sometimes he feels annoyed.
[[not Doing Well at the New School]] Alex has a hard time at school as a new student. He doesn’t know anyone in the class. He misses having lunch with his best friends.
[[Stress out]] The stress level has been rising. Alex neither likes to go to school nor living with his grandma. He fakes being sick so that he can hide in his room. Grandma has noticed his changing behavior, so she is quite worried.
[[Alex Changes His Mind]] Grandma talks to Alex’s teachers and his parents about what is going on with him. All of them are worried about him. Mom and Dad take the earliest flight back to meet him. Once again, they try to convince Alex to move to China with them, and Alex finally agrees.
[[Move to China]]