I’ve lived in China for a month… how many people can say that!! Okay over a billion, (18.72% of world population) but not many of my family, friends can say that. Not that it’s on most people’s list of things to do. After my last blog post I realized I may have garnered more sympathy than I was shooting for and need to make this post more positive, cause actually I’m handing all this cultural difference quite well.
There are things in China that I notice constantly and I really like.
1- People hold hands. Girls hold hands with other girls. Boys will hold hands with other boys. (and none of this means they have same sex attraction, just friends) Mom’s and daughters or friends, of all ages. Seniors holding hands with other elder ladies. It’s so charming. When I was being photo’d in Beijing at the National Museum by a family who wanted the picture with the giant foreigner chick, the little girl held my hand! I love it.
2- The traffic works, even though it’s so scary sometimes, and people don’t get angry as often as you would think about cutting each other off and doing what would get you shot in America for sure. You can really just start walking across a street with oncoming traffic and as long as you keep your pace, you probably will survive. Things rarely move fast.. They just keep moving at a slow pace. The obstacle courses that I have rode my bike through are very impressive for a 55 year old lady. Yes, sometimes I freak out and stop and drive my husband crazy,as I haven’t completely gotten over my fear of going to a hospital here.
3- Tianjin is a large city – 15 million, yet in some ways it feels more like a village when you are just hanging out near your apartment. The nearest big street is over two blocks away and we don’t hear any street traffic at our apartment. On the busy street, people honk constantly, yet within the residential area we are in it’s pretty quiet most of the time. We can hear the kindergarten nearby with the kids singing during their school day, and that’s very sweet.
4- Food of Tianjin. We have had really good food here with few exceptions. This has been so refreshing, cause during my two previous trips to Shanghai, I could NOT say that. I got so frustrated with finding bones in my food, that eating seemed to lose all it’s fun factor. We have avoided hot pot, simply because Bill got food poisoning so bad on our last visit after attempting that, that we just aren’t willing to risk it yet. I’ve been eating all sorts of things and it’s been really good tasting and I’m so glad!!! The cost of food to buy is not really cheap. If it’s eggs or China grown fruit or veggies than it’s pretty reasonable. But if you need western food, then it’s not a deal. Tiny box of cereal is $4 US, or cheese is a luxury that you spend lots of money on. Chips and salsa are something you just need to wait till you get back into states for. Bought some chips that were made in Alabama… not great. I did make my own guacamole and it turned out pretty good. The school canteens are the deal. We eat lunch and dinner at them unless it’s a night on the town with friends. I’ve rarely spent over $2US for these meals at the Canteens, most of the time it’s more like $1.50. And you get a lot of food. I will not come home skinny is what I’m saying… up front.
5- The students… are mostly polite and are very curious about their new foreign teacher. They didn’t really like their old teacher they had last year. Typically the teacher moves up with the same students from Freshman to Sophomore but the school didn’t renew that teachers contract. I’ve heard rumors, and basically what I heard is the former teacher was a better tourist, than teacher. The students walk up to my room, look in, look back at the room number, look around with a questioning look and then walk in. They thought they were having the same teacher and are surprised to see me. Hopefully I’m giving them a better experience. That is my goal.
This week I start to teach the classes for the second time. We will see if they all come back… or if they have dropped my class! I will teach the same lesson plan 15 times in the next three weeks… with a week long national holiday in the middle. After the holiday – I will work on Saturday and Sunday for the makeup days for three of my classes. Very different way to handle a holiday. That will put me working 7 days straight. In the midst of this, they have asked for Bill and I to do 90 minute evening lectures on the new campus and need to run topics by the school before hand.They will pay us extra for this.
So we are in the brainstorming stage. Any ideas?