BONUS 1/3 - Amelia and the Worst Orientation Ever

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ON THE DAY I moved into my college dorm, I was greeted with the sight of a sandy-haired boy tossing his cookies into a large blue trash bin. And I'm not talking about actual cookies.

"Welcome to the University of Michigan! That's your residential advisor, Patrick O'Donald." The chirpy, brown-haired girl wearing a Move-In Maker shirt didn't miss a beat, even though I could see that the huge smile she'd plastered on her face was strained. The expression on her face was a window into her true thoughts: Help me I don't get paid enough for this bullshit.

The barfing boy resurfaced from the trash can at the sound of his name. "Holler if you need help," Patrick said weakly, his hand giving a wimpy little wave. Then he immediately dunked his head back in for more...internal unloading. "Blergh!"

"Um," I said, "nice to meet you?"

The Move-In Maker girl sighed and shoved my giant blue bin of belongings down the hall, taking huge strides with her long legs, like she couldn't get away quickly enough. "Dehydration," she explained before I could ask the question. "From moving around in the heat all day."

"Oh." To me that didn't look like a case of just a little dehydration, but I thought it best to let the matter drop. Especially because my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Worrywart, were right behind me--and had seen the whole thing go down with a silent sort of horror.

"Mingyue," Dad said warningly, puffing to keep up with our speeding bin, "you're not safe here. You see that barfing boy? You know why he was barfing? Homesickness." He paused. "Or maybe malaria. Do they have that here?"

I groaned. "Baba, she just said it's dehydration--"

"Baobei," Mom sighed, clasping my hand into hers. At five foot one, she was already shorter than me, but still treated me as if I were four years old again. As if I was still her precious baby, her baobei. "You should quit this nonsense and go to a college closer to home." She stared around at the welcome banners and smiling upperclassmen surrounding us, distrust written all across her pinched-up expression.

"Why not Berkeley?" Dad asked. "So much closer to home. No vomiting boys. And Nancy goes to Berkeley."

Mom nodded fervently, the curls of her short perm bouncing up and down. "Yes. Nancy--your best friend," she said, as if I might've forgotten this fact.

I rolled my eyes. Did my parents seriously think that, two days before classes were due to start, I could just drop out of Michigan and beg Berkeley to re-extend their offer of admission to me? "Stop worrying. I chose Michigan for a reason." To get the hell away from my parents and their ungrounded fear of everything in life.

"California and Michigan are 2,404 miles apart," Mom blurted out, wringing her hands nervously.

I ogled her. "Did you seriously look that up?"

"Yes. Of course, that's only if you take I-80 E. It would be even longer if--"

"Can we please discuss this later?" I hissed as we boarded the elevator. The Move-In-Maker girl had politely turned her head the other way, but I imagined she wasn't overly thrilled with the fact that we'd been having a conversation in a foreign language for the past few minutes, as if she wasn't standing next to us the whole time.

Dad coughed and stood up straighter, nodding at the girl. Ariana, I read off her nametag. "Excuse me," he said in English, puffing himself up. Dad had always had this weird habit of putting on airs of importance whenever he spoke to Americans, like it would make his accented English sound more authentic or something. Like they'd be convinced that he was just as American as they were. "Excuse me--I have a question."

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