When I was 17 I went to live in China over the summer for a month. It was pretty much exactly as awesome as it sounds it would be.
However, internet, let me let you in on a bit of a shocker. I was not a very “with it” high schooler. I was, in fact, very much “without it”. I know. How could such a suave, talented, beautiful swan have ever been an ugly ducking?
Alas, it’s true.
Unlike many of my peers, I did not go to parties in high school. In fact, I was shockingly naive to the very presence of parties in high school. Sure, I’d drink champagne at Christmas and wine with dinner and occasionally take a swig from one of Dad’s beers, but I’d never drunk in the sense of getting actually drunk (oh how times have changed). I was a very scheduled, cautious person. I woke up at absurd hours in the morning to go to crew, go to school, come home, and do homework. That was generally it. My grandest act of rebellion was sneaking out of school on a free period (never skipping class, how dare you ask!) and going to get lunch with some friends of mine. On Senior Class Skip day I got my parents to write me a note excusing me from school. I was a total Loserrrr with a capital L.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), my peers in the program I went to Beijing with were not nearly so naive.
I went on the trip with a program out of Stanford to study economics, world relations, and belly dance (?!!???) . We were paired with a group of Chinese students with whom we roomed and dined and took class. Our instructors were all Ph.D. students from various places, and my classmates ran the gamut from California to Thailand. We lived in the dorms at a school in the heart of Beijing. It was awesome.
However, I somehow got pegged as Little Miss Badass, despite my shy, panicky demeanor, because amid the schoolwork the class trips, and the 3-4 hour long dance practices, some tomfoolery went down, and I was smack in the middle of it.
One of the girls there happened to be obscenely rich, and one night she told me and four other girls to get dolled up and meet her outside the gates at 10 pm. The gates lock at 8 pm, but I guess this was a non-issue because one of the other girls super casually managed to pick the lock, and that’s when I know Things were about to Go Down.
We get into a chauffeured (insert fancy car brand) and head off. When I was in China at the time, about half the roads in Beijing were dirt and rocks, and half were paved, so you knew when you hit pavement you were in a rich area of the city. We entered the paved area and got dropped off outside of this club called the Gilded Butterfly (I am NOT making this up) and cut the line to get inside.
Now, I don’t know what the alcohol laws were in China at the time, but it apparently wasn’t a problem that a bunch of 17 year olds were waltzing around inside of this ritzy club, because we promptly managed to order ourselves a tray full of Kamikazes. Let me stress that at this point I’d never gone drinking.