Sunday, October 19, 2008

Half-way done!....with half-way

Sorry I haven't posted anything new lately. The creative juices haven't been flowing as of late. This week I am finally on mid-fall break. I just finished up my midterms last week, and I think they went well considering it's all in a foreign language. It strangely actually felt more like finals than midterms because they canceled classes and such because of our tests. It's definitely crazy to know that I've been here for about two months. The time has kind of flown by, but I still have several months here.

Let's see what stories could I tell....

I went to the post office for the first time today. I was pretty proud of myself for mailing a letter all by myself. Mailing a letter, mind you, is much different in China than it is in the US. Here nothing is pre-pasted, and they don't like to do things for you. So they gave me the stamps and had me glue them on myself with the paste they provide, and then when the lady was all finished she had me paste the envelope closed. It was pretty easy to mail a letter, but it was definitely an experience to see things done a little different.

I was mistaken for a Russian the other day. I walked into a restaurant on campus and I was staring at the menu and the waiters proceeded to hand me a menu and turned it to the page with Russian on it. I was kind of thrown off so when I tried to tell him I was not Russian I totally messed it up, but it was okay cause I got a second chance. The other waiter thought I was Russian too and he tried to show me the Russian menu as well. This time I was prepared though and I told him I was an American, but apparently I look Russian.

I learned how to play Mahjong the other day. One of my American friends here invited me to go learn to play Mahjong with two of her Chinese friends that she had met through a series of connections. We went and met them by their school and ate a great lunch and then headed over to the Mahjong hall where you pay a certain amount of money per person to play for four hours, and you get unlimited tea and milk tea and ice cream. It was lots of fun learning to play a game that is a large part of the Chinese culture. Normally when you play Mahjong you're supposed to bet, but because gambling in China is illegal we used poker cards as money. :) So if you win and depending on how you win you get a certain amount of poker cards from everyone else. After four hours I ended up winning in amount of cards.

I visited one of my teacher's homes the other day and got to see what a real Chinese home is like. This home in particular was very small. Everyone in the city lives in apartments and it is not uncommon for several generations to live together. So my teacher's home has four rooms, his and his wife's bedroom, his son and his son's wife's bedroom, his granddaughter's bedroom, and a kitchen. They also have one room that is the bathroom, laundry room, and shower all in one. I don't know if I've mentioned, but here, the bathroom is the shower and the shower is the bathroom. My teacher was very hospitable and gave me two books, one that he had actually written and one he had written an essay in. I was just amazed at how kind he was trying to make me feel at home so that I wouldn't have to miss my mom as much. One funny thing about visiting your calligraphy teacher's home is that it means you have to practice your calligraphy. :) Before I left he made sure that I had practiced all the characters we had learned and I even had an audience watching me write, honestly it was a little nerve wracking to be put on the spot, but I certainly appreciated the practice.

I've been starting to make some Chinese friends here that are outside the CET program. One girl works at a coffee shop near campus and her name is Lulu. She is so cute. She saw me studying my Chinese there and started asking me about it and then just starting talking to me while she was waiting for something to do. So I ended up spending several hours there just talking with her. Then I went again today and talked with her again and she introduced me to a friend of hers who is an English teacher. I ended up talking with this lady as well and now I might end up helping with a winter English camp over my winter break. All the girls I have met are so sweet and I certainly hope that I will get lots of chances to really get to know them.

So I think I'm actually learning how to live in a city. I never thought I would ever catch myself enjoying living in a city, but I guess after you live somewhere for a while it will always start to become home. I still prefer the quite of living out of the city, but I'm definitely seeing benefits to living in a city, you never run out of things to explore.

I think this is about it for this post. Please keep me in your thoughts as I have many opportunities to build relationships with lots of people. Love you all!