A student weekend

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since last Wednesday.  What’s wrong with me?  Have I nothing of importance to say or to report?  Okay, importance is overstating things.  Is life too normal?  Do I need to be miserable to post?  Interesting questions and none that I can answer.

It’s Monday morning at 8AM.  I hate getting up early when I don’t have to but I guess my adjustment to the wakeup exercise music was short-lived.  I’m up at 6:30 and it’s annoying.  I fall asleep late morning or early afternoon (or both).  I need a good night’s sleep.

As I said last time, Shujie and I went out last Friday for me to buy some jeans.  I bought 4 pairs of jeans (2 at 2 different stores).  The total price was about $75.  The quality seems reasonable so we’ll see.  Does this make me officially Chinese if I wear Chinese clothes?  I guess I’ll have to ask some people.

The weather has been wonderful.  Today will be 22 (or about 70).  It’s the end of November.  This is crazy.  On Wednesday it appears the colder weather is coming.  It says it will be 8 (about 42) and will be staying that way for at least a few days.  I’ll freeze because I freeze here.  Today I’m buying gloves to be prepared.  I’ll need them in class and when we’re riding the motorbike.  It can be quite cold sitting on the bike while the wind rushes past.

On Saturday I went with 4 students (Eric, Brad, Sunny, and Red) to the hot springs at Tangshan.  It’s about 30 minutes from here.  They have resort hotels there too and it’s not cheap just to visit the springs.  It was about $25 a head.  The springs are outside and they are very well kept up.  You can sit in hot water, you can sit in hot water with coffee in it, you can sit in hot water with milk in it, you can sit in hot water with flowers in it, you can sit in (and it goes on and on).  The boys wanted to take me and I was happy to get out for something new.

After the springs we went to Nanjing where they wanted to eat at Pizza Hut.  It’s really the only pizza worth eating in the country and when I say, “worth eating” I’m stretching it.  I told them I was paying and no one should argue.  So when I went to the washroom before the bill came they got it and paid and wouldn’t take my money.  The culture here is if someone invites you, they pay.  I won’t get into a war over who’s paying except to say it was quite nice of them.

From there we went to a very pretty park and walked around.  Then we returned to where the car was parked (Brad, who lives in Jurong, drove his mother’s car).  We were going to eat Shao Kao but the BBQ place wasn’t there anymore.  So we went to this Japanese restaurant and left when we learned it was about $50 a head.  A little steep for an unknown quantity.  We ate at a Korean BBQ which was fine.  You order the meat, they bring it uncooked, and you cook it.  I think Eric and I were the only ones who had had Korean BBQ before.  But Brad quickly grew into it as he was getting off on cooking everything.  It was quite nice and I couldn’t pay.  They would take my money.  We’ll have to find a half-decent Chinese restaurant here to take them to.  Ah, culture.

I went into Starbucks to get an iced tea.  I asked if anyone wanted anything and only Brad said yes.  However, I couldn’t buy his drink.  He said we were going “AA”.  I had no idea what Alcoholics Anonymous had to do with paying and I didn’t try and understand.  I think AA is a common Chinese term that everyone knows that means you’re going dutch.  I learn.

We got back around 10PM so it was a full day.  It was good.  I think the boys had fun and so did I.  Eventually there will be a few pictures from the park as soon as Brad sends them to me.

Yesterday, Sunday, Shujie and I went out for coffee with Estella who we both adore.  It was quite pleasurable as she’s such a doll.  It got me to thinking about “what is a friend”.  I know it’s someone you can’t count on and will be there for you.  I know it’s someone you can talk to.  But there’s another category here.  I have these students who think we’re friends   That’s okay but are we.  I’m very fond of them but we don’t speak at the same level.  Maybe I should just relax and say they’re friends.  It’s not that I’m overloaded with friends and I should be honored that they think of me this way.

We were talking about strict teachers in class and as a joke I asked them if anyone thought I was strict.  The final tally was 139 say I’m not strict and 1 says I’m strict.  I found that humorous so I asked her why.  She said it was because I evicted her from class one time for talking.  That should be my only crime.

When there was a picture of Brad and I taken on Sunday I said to him that in 30 years he’ll look at this picture and say, “who is this white guy”.  He assured me that would never happen.  It must be nice to think the things you enjoy last forever.

Tonight is speech night.  I dread it.  I don’t want to judge and I don’t know a good way to get out of it.  They are changing the criteria for the winner which won’t be “best speech” anymore, but “best effort”.  That’s better but I don’t want to judge.  Why can’t they just have a price and pick a name out of a hat?  This topic should be boring.  I think it’s being a college student and the Internet.  Ho Hum.  I’ve been told that the next time it will be homosexuality.  If we’re going to do adult topics, I’m more interested.  If we’re sticking to baby topics I’ll have to extradite myself from this since no decent pizza and coke is being served.

We’ve been here 3 months now.  I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but I was hopeful.  I’m not disappointed.  I’m learning and I’m meeting some really nice people.  Granted most of these nice people are 22 and younger, but they’re people too.

At the Korean restaurant on Satuday a woman came up to me and asked me in English if he daughter could speak to me.  Her daughter is a primary school student.  I just thought that was so polinte and I can’t recollect anything like that happening before.  Of course I said yes and we had a nice brief talk.  I asked her what her age was and she said “10”.  I replied that I was 10 too and she laughed.  I like when they get the simple jokes.  She wasn’t coached by her mother on what to say (I hate that).  If the kid wants to say something, I want to listen.  But if they’re just a puppet repeating things they don’t understand then I have no interest.  After a few sentences the mother took her away.  There are some fine people here with good manners who know how to behave.  I’m not sure it’s the majority of the Chinese, but I do enjoy meeting people like this.

I like my job (I didn’t really say that, did I?).  My late Thursday afternoon class is cancelled this week because there students are on cleanup patrol cleaning classrooms.  I think they should use fire and burn them to the ground.

I hope I don’t get bored before the end of the year.  I guess if I keep talking to students and learning things from them, I shouldn’t.  However, I’d love some pancakes right now.  I do make sacrifices for China.  I hope they appreciate it.


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