Life in China
I love fall. I’m that stereotypical girl who buys food just because its pumpkin flavored. I get excited to wear my boots and scarves, I love the first time the air feels cold on my face. I love gnarly warty gourds and when the breeze knocks down a swirl of leaves while I’m walking. Fall is magic and I usually consider September-November to be a 3 month long holiday.
I had sort of accepted that this fall would be different as the dramatic foliage of New England, and pumpkin lattes are not part of life in China. But I got a pumpkin. Its a strange little squat pumpkin, but I love it just the same. It reminds me of a hundred happy fall memories.
So when I had my Chinese friends over I proudly displayed my pumpkin on the table. I was still cooking dinner and left them there with some potatoes to peel (I’m a rough host). I returned to see them holding a knife over the pumpkin, clearly about to murder my fall spirit icon. I threw myself over the pumpkin like Pocohontas over John Smith and explained it was a decoration. I think my friends are adding this to the list of really weird things foreigners do. We buy a random vegetable and stick it on a table. I was imagining how I would feel if I went to somones home and they just had a cabbage sitting out to decorate. I suppose I would find it strange.
Anyways, Its now been 7 months in the middle kingdom and I like to sum each month up with the Good, the Bad and the Weird.
Having a dinner party for my Chinese friends was a lot of fun. They had never had wine before so that was fun to have them try it. I’ve explained to them before that I don’t care for Chinese desserts because they’re not very sweet. They tend to be sort of sweet but more bread-like. Anyways I made brownies with vanilla ice cream. They could barely finish it because it was so rich but now they understand the difference between our desserts. Also, its really difficult to make a full dinner when you just have a little toaster for an oven. I take it as a personal challenge.
I had an amazing time in Chengdu this past month. I’ve been loving going to the gym here in Nanchong. I have struggled with my heath a lot in Nanchong but as soon as I gave up running outside things have actually improved a lot, I seem to be really sensitive to the pollution here even though its not that bad compared to a lot of china.
I love my students and I love my co-workers, but there are some elements of my job that I find very frustrating. I don’t particularly want to talk too much about a job while I’m still working there, and its hardly a bad job, but sometimes it is really really frustrating to be in an office that operates off different communication styles and different values. A good learning experience, but not always a fun one.
I have a mouse in my apartment. This is hardly shocking since it seems like everywhere has mice here and the apartments clearly have a million openings, but I HATE mice. They’re dirty and gross and I resent them violating my living space. I’m so scared of them that I’m sleeping with a flashlight in case… well I’m not really sure why I think I need a flashlight. I have about half a million mouse traps set up in my apartment. I didn’t want a trap because I don’t want to kill the mouse, I just want it to leave, but trying to explain that to my Chinese friends basically convinced them I was insane.
Life in China is never short on weird experiences for me.
I’ve been going to yoga classes at the gym, in one class I was confused when they handed me a giant exercise ball but I just went with it. It was hilarious! The first 15 minutes we did this whole Tai Chi thing with classical Chinese music playing and about 30 women gracefully waving the ball around. Then it turned to disco music and we just bounced on the balls a lot. We ended with balancing one leg on the ball and doing squats and then bouncing some more before doing more squats… its not a class I would have gone too if I knew what it was, but it was so much fun and surprisingly a good workout.
I’ve mentioned before that Sichuan is quite rainy. I’ve gotten sick of getting wet feet and ordered a pair of rain boots off of tao-bao. My friends begged me not to buy them. They said only children or farmers wore them. I assured them that people are not going to think I’m a Chinese farmer and I just wanted the $5 boots and not $50 “fashion boots”. I’m very happy with my dry feet, but people do stare at them. One girl on the bus came over, pointed at my boots and said “Why?”. My teenage students looked at them with concern and asked if that was really “American Fashion”. I don’t care because you can’t rain on a girls parade when she’s rocking pink polka dots.
So those have my been my adventures this past month. I do enjoy this country, even with the weirdness at times and the frustrating parts, life in China is a lot of fun and always interesting.