Sunday, February 24, 2013

Conversation....Story....

I had the MOST interesting conversation yesterday. It ended with the other party telling me what I'm about to repeat to you.
Now, I apologize for the grammar issues. But, I wanted you to read it just as I heard it. So, I ran to find something to write with and wrote it down when we were done talking.
I wish you could hear him tell it.....even though his English is not very good, he told me this with such confidence and conviction.......I don't know how to describe it. There was a tone in his voice that made every word seem so important.


America. China. Very different. Not same. When you in war, you can (puts his hands up to surrender) and you go home. In China, if we do (puts hands up again) we come home and go to the jail. In China, you win or you die. If you (puts hands up), they ask you, why you no go to die?
This is something in our bones and our blood from ancient times. You win or you die. You do not go home if you no win.
Also, in war times, if the army gets hungry and there no food. The army will eat women and the babies. Because it is only win is important.
That is what we know in China. Japan is same, but Japan is more blood. Japan army carry two knife. A long one and short one....if you fail to kill with long one....you kill self with short one. Japan is more blood than China.
But, all of Asia is more blood than America. You are very different.

Journey. Part V...

Written on Feb. 22nd.

The Holiday Comes to a Close

So, from Feb. 14th until the 18th, the trip was…….ummmmm……..well, I played games on my iPad at the grandma’s house. We ate food, played some card games, and……well, that’s about it.
BY THE WAY! I’ve totally forgot to mention that the women in Jessica’s family can cook like champions. All of the food was so good. (All of the food that I was willing to eat.) Man, they CAN COOK! I will the miss the food from that city. The spices are different and the way they prepare things….magic.
But, alas, I had to leave that wonderous food on the 18th. Jessica, me, two aunts (and their husbands), three cousins, and one husband of a cousin….we went to Fenghuang (the river town). We paid for a private bus to take the 10 of us to the river town.
Now, Jessica and I had all of our bags and our stuff because we would be returning to Huaihua the next day to get on the train back to Kunming. So, we had a lot of stuff. But, the rest of the family just had small things for the one night we would be there.
Oh. It was raining. By the time we wandered around and found a hotel…..I was splattered in mud. Despite the rain, it was obvious that the place was beautiful. The pictures we got, I just don’t think they will do the place justice. The rain made for weird lighting in the pics, but, just take my word for it. This was the most beautiful city I’ve seen since I got to this planet. I mean country. Nope. Planet.
Anyway. We wandered around all day for, well, so they could take a million pictures. While they were doing that, I was staring at things and marveling at how beautifully built the buildings were. There is something about the ancient architecture of this country/planet. Maybe it will be the only thing I will miss about living here, I don’t know. But, there is just something about it…….
So, I stared at things. A family member would shout at me if I got too far away from the group. We had dinner and returned to the hotel.
But, later that night, Jessica and two cousins went out to take more pictures. I went with them to see the city at night.
The rain got really heavy just before midnight. So, that ended picture time and we ran back to the hotel.
The next morning, the bar was locked and closed. So, Jessica’s family decided we should just jump out the window. Of course!
After lunch, we went back and the hotel lady was there. So, we checked out and went to the bus station. Jessica’s family came on the bus with us to Huaihua. Then they went with us to the train station to put mine and Jessica’s stuff in a holding place. Then, they went back to the bus station to go home.
Jessica called some of her friends and told them she was in town. So, we went to dinner with her friends then went to wait for the train.
The train was delayed until 10:20pm. Another looooooooong train ride later and we were back in Kunming on the 20th.
Another of her friends met us at the Kunming train station and helped her home. Then, she and that friend left again that evening to go continue her holiday until the 26th.

Her family was very welcoming and lovely to me. I couldn’t talk to them beyond a few words here and there, but they were lovely. I wish I spoke enough Chinese to thank them properly for feeding me and putting up with me for two-ish weeks.

And now I’m back in Kunming. I also seem to have some sort of cold. It doesn’t seem to be too bad….and I’m not surprised! It rained so much in the river town and I didn’t have an umbrella. I was wearing a hoodie, which is not the same thing as an umbrella (as you know). So, the sniffles are not a surprise.

Feeling a bit displaced and detached is a surprise though. But, for now, I’m going to chalk it up to my own homesickness and Jedi Mind Trick my way out of these annoying feelings.

And that, my friends, is the end of this transmission. PEACE OUT!

Journey. Part IV...

Written on Feb. 22nd…….

Jessica took me with most of her family on a journey up another mountain. Well, sort of……
First, we took a bus to who knows where. Then, we took a boat (I use the term with some serious tongue in cheek, but it stayed above the water line…..) across a lake then climbed half way up a mountain to a bridge.
At this point in time, I would appreciate it if you would imagine me screaming uncontrollably in my head.
I am not afraid of heights. I repeat. I AM NOT AFRAID OF HEIGHTS. But, ever since my head injury…..I am TERRIFIED of falling off of things that move.
So, I walked out onto the bridge first and it started to move. I mean, the whole bridge….and individual slats of wood that were not attached well to the bridge. I looked across the bridge and down into the lake. Then, out loud, I said, “this is a bad Indiana Jones movie waiting to happen.”
I started making my way across the bridge as quickly as I dared. But, Jessica and her family members stopped to take a million pictures.
*Side Note: Most of the trip was Jessica and her family members taking a million pictures. Not only that, most of these pictures were the same background with different poses or facial expressions to choose from.
Anyway, Jessica yelled for me to slow down. I turned and said, “I don’t want to slow down. I want to get off of the bridge.”
Later she asked me why. I told her I was afraid of falling off of moving objects. So, on the way back over the bridge……she walked up behind me and started jumping. I stopped, called her a jerk and waited for her to pass while laughing at me.
Whatever.
Anyway. It turns out, we crossed the bridge just to walk for a while and look at the mountain and the lake.
Then, instead of taking the boat thing, they decide that they want to walk back around to the bus stop. They tell me it is about an hour walk. What they did not tell me……..was that we wouldn’t be walking on a road. We would be walking on a tiny trail around the mountain.
Now. Imagine a tiny trail on a mountain the day after a rainstorm. Then imagine that the only shoes you brought were boots. Like, winter boots….not good boots with traction or anything.
So, you should not be surprised that I slipped many times and hurt my ankle really bad on the way back.
But, maybe you should be surprised (as I was) that while I was limping, crying, and all that pain jazz….Jessica never once asked me what happened. Her family asked her in Chinese. She gave some sort of answer, but I have no idea what it was.
I decided to go back to the hotel and not join them for dinner. I didn’t want to walk too much on my ankle. Also, at this point, I just felt…….
I almost forgot again! I’m not going to talk about it. This is just to tell you about the basics.

Journey. Part III...

Temple Day (written on Feb. 22nd)

I met Jessica at her grandma’s apartment pretty early in the morning. I mean, earlier than we had met before in that week. And then we walked up the mountain to go to the temple. Well, one of the temples. But, it was the temple that we needed to go to for what Jessica needed to do.
Remember, on Facebook awhile back, I made mention of Jessica wanting to go to the temple to remove a protection from a god?  Well, that is what we went to do.
Nearly the whole family came with us, but I’m pretty sure that most of them just came to pray or pay tribute. I don’t think they all came to watch Jessica.
But, it was fascinating! Jessica’s mom brought money, fruit, cooking oil and a broom to the temple. (Not the kind of broom you are thinking of, I’m sure. Think more old school. Think a hand tied broom made from tree branches and something that looks like hay……actually, think of a bird nest in the shape of a broom. That is a pretty accurate description of most of the brooms you see in this country.)
They went into a main room in the temple to talk to a female monk for a while. I think they were getting directions for the “procedure,” but no one was available to translate for me….obviously. So, I’m describing for you only what I saw. I didn’t get any translations until the very end.
(Oh. Jessica has a cousin that goes by the English name Eve. She is the only other family member that speaks English. So, if Jessica wasn’t speaking to me….didn’t have time for me…..whatever……sometimes Eve would explain things. Like at the end of the temple thing.)
The monk took us into another room of the temple, in front of another god. She had Jessica write something on a piece of cloth looking stuff. Then Jessica’s dad put oil in something so a candle could be lit. Jessica’s mom put fruit in front of the god and then money in a box near the altar. There were two pillows to kneel on before the altar, one in front of the other. Jessica knelt on the front one and started doing this bowing thing while the monk lit a bunch of incense and said some words. Then Jessica moved to the back pillow and the monk knelt at the front pillow and did a slightly different bowing thing. She said more words and got up and walked in circles around Jessica while throwing water on her. Jessica’ mom helped the monk put a red sash around Jessica and then Jessica started walking away. The monk followed her to the front door of the temple while beating the broom on the ground behind her.
I had NO IDEA what was going on. I was just following because I didn’t know what else to do. Then Eve said, “now she is done here. She has to walk down the mountain to her home. She cannot turn back. She must not look behind her.”
“Ummmm…..okay. And when she gets home will they take off the sash?”
“The what?”
“The red thing.”
“Yes. Her mother will take it off.”
So, she went home……I went with Eve back to grandma’s to wait for dinner time.
Again, I wish I had more information about the whole experience. But, there was so much that just wasn’t translated for me.

Journey. Part II...

Written on Feb. 22nd

Spring Festival
February 9th was an interesting day. It was like Christmas and Fourth of July all rolled into one. We ate A LOT of food, there were fireworks everywhere, and people exchanged gifts. Well, mostly they exchanged money. That seems to be the custom here. For weddings, holidays, birthdays……you get a red envelope with money in it.
Also, the firework thing = TERRIFYING. Honestly. People are lighting fireworks in the streets, in the apartment hallways, rooftops….basically from flat surfaces. And I’m not talking about sparklers and firecrackers. I mean, of course you see those too, but I’m talking about the big guns.
Last year, in Zhenjiang, I was walking down the street and got a hole burned into my coat from falling debris. This year, luckily, I didn’t get hit with burning debris again. But, there were plenty of times that I had to turn away so that things wouldn’t fly into my face. They are very serious about the fireworks.

The day after Spring Festival, families go to the tombs of their loved ones and light incense, say some sort of prayer, literally bow to them, light off fire crackers, and eat fruit with the dead. I'm not kidding. They drop an orange in front of the tomb for the dead person, and then eat a bunch of oranges in front of the tomb....."with" their dead family member.
*Side Note: I asked Jessica to take a picture. The burial ground/mountain was fascinating. My camera was dead and I brought the wrong charger. So, I asked Jessica to take a picture.
Her: I can't.
Me: Why?
Her: That would be rude. The dead are enjoying their holiday. I don't want to be impolite.

I stood there for a minute waiting for her to tell me she was joking. But, I don't think she was joking.

Anyway, we were on the mountain visiting her grandfather on her mother's side. So, I was asking a few questions about her grandpa. Jessica told me that her grandparents were married for 70 years before he died. They had 8 children, but only four survived the first two years of life. Jessica's mom is the baby of the family. The oldest sister was actually the third child born.
Here is the interesting part.....................
When Jessica's grandfather was a boy, it was a popular custom in China for rich families to buy little girls for their sons. Many, many little girls to be their wives….many wives.
But, Jessica's great grandparents only wanted one wife for their son. So, when grandpa was 10 years old, his parents bought a baby girl. They raised her in their home....and when she was 12......the wedding happened. When she was 16....the first baby was born.
ISN'T THAT CRAZY?!? Grandma has known her husband for her WHOLE LIFE!

Sheesh. I find that so interesting.

So, that was pretty much Sunday. Monday was just as interesting to me!
(To Be Continued…..again…..)

Journey. Part I...

Written on Feb. 20th

Okay, so, maybe you know that I went with Jessica for Spring Festival. It was…….you know what? I actually don’t really want to talk about it. But, I will cover the highlights and leave out the……crippling awkwardness that is my life in China.

We arrived in Huaihua on Feb. 4th. It was IMMEDIATLEY apparent that I was in a part of China that does not see foreigners.
OH, SORRY! I forgot that I was going to skip the awkwardness. Well, much to my horror, it might not be possible to totally skip it all………but I’m going to try!
One of Jessica’s friends came to pick us up at the train station and take us to KFC. You know, for fries. (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) We ate fries and soft-serve ice cream while we waited for the guy with the car. He came to take us to Zhijiang.
It was about a 30 minute drive. The drive was, again, more of a lesson for me than anything else. We have so much that we take for granted in America. I swear we live with our eyes closed.
I’m about to start preaching…….instead I’ll say:
American and China are not on the same planet. It has been decided.
I liked Zhijiang. It was the first city I’ve seen since I’ve been here that wasn’t trying to be modern. I loved the historical feel of all the buildings.
I did not love the hotel. It was my first experience with a traditional Chinese bathroom. It is basically a closet with a hole in the ground to squat over and a showerhead. So, the squat toilet is also the shower drain. Weird.
We had dinner with a group of her friends and then went walking around the town. It was nice.
The next day we found out that we would be going to Jessica’s hometown a day early. Spring Festival is very important in this country….and it was time for all her friends to get ready to go home and be with family.
So, they took us back to Huaihua to the bus station. But, on the way back to the city, we stopped at a museum/historical site from WWII. The English translation on the sign said: The Original Site of Chinese People’s Anti-Japanese War Victory Surrender Acceptance.

*Side Note: If I wanted to stay in this country, I think a better job for me would be to correct the grammar in all their translations.

While we were wandering around the site, Jessica told me that this area never sees foreigners. So, it is possible that the military would stop me in this site to make sure I wasn’t a spy. (I still don’t know if she was joking.)
We then finished the journey back to the bus station. I don’t remember how long the bus ride was….1hr 30mins…..maybe? I don’t remember.

But, then we were in Hongjiang. The birthplace of the Jessica! Well, her real birthplace. Her dad knows someone who knows someone in the government….so, with some money exchanging hands, Jessica got a new birthplace listed on her ID card. People do this in China so that their kids can receive some sort of extra credit in school. Because her new birthplace has a lot of Chinese minorities….or something. She explained it to me once, but I didn’t understand most of it. I just understood that with money and connections…..well, you get the idea…….

We arrived in Hongjiang on Feb. 5th. Her mom, dad, and one of her cousins were waited for us. They grabbed our bags and took us straight to grandma’s apartment for dinner.
And then the real fun began?
Depends on who you talk to? I don’t know. Honestly, Spring Festival is A LOT like our Christmas.
The whole family gets together…..then sits around playing games on their cell phones. So, they put me in a hotel, fed me, smiled at me, tried to talk to me sometimes…..but, nothing really happened until February 9th.
(To Be Continued….)

I'm sorry, WHAT?

Written Feb. 15th

Jimmy Hoffa’s Birthday

You guys know I don’t like February 14th, right? I celebrate Jimmy Hoffa’s birthday, because, I mean….COME ON! Isn’t that just as pointless as a day set aside to prove your love with chocolate and pink things?
PINK IS NOT LOVE!
Chocolate is pretty close to love, now that I think about it, but you can have chocolate and love every day.
Sorry. I can’t help it. I know I have fit about that day every year, but there was no here to listen to my fit. So, you got a small piece of it.
BUT, that actually has nothing to do with what happened in Hongjiang that day. No one mentioned the pointless holiday until very late in the day (much to my relief).
Despite all that, yesterday was the best day of this trip. I would say so far, but I'm pretty sure it will stay the best.
There is an area of this city that has been around since the Qing Dynasty. GOOGLE IT! So, I was in history heaven all day!
Some people still live in the buildings that have been in the family FOREVER...even though the government is trying to get them all to move to protect the historical sites they live in. We went inside some of the businesses there just to see how the structure is holding up......it was amazing.
Then, I see an arrow sign directing the public to a whorehouse. I turned to Jessica and asked if the sign was a correct translation of the Chinese above it....cause they don't always translate correctly here. She said yes.
Me: Is that a historical sign or a modern sign?
Her: Both.
Me: (laughing) Interesting.
Her: Why is that interesting?
Me: We don't.........America isn't so obvious about it. It's illegal and.......not as widely accepted? I guess. I just think the sign is funny.
Her: Come on.
(And she walked our group to the building. Her family group was taking pics and making jokes while I stared at the whorehouse STREET in disbelief.)
Me: This whole street?
Her: Yes. Very popular. This one is the main building.
(I looked at the building and noticed a sign....)
Me: 1860? This place has been open since 1860?
Her: Yes. This street has been here since the Qing Dynasty....but this building open for working.....
Me: Got it. Prostitution is oldest profession and blah, blah, blah.......
(She translated this into Chinese and her family laughed........more jokes in Chinese that were never translated.......)
Her: Only the most beautiful girls live in this main building.
Me: Wait. They live here?
Her: Yes. They can't leave. Poor families sell their daughters to this street.
Me: I see. This isn't funny anymore.
Her: Oh.

Arrived......Survived?

Written Feb. 4th

So,

I survived the train ride. Sort of. Imagine not being able to shower
and feeling like you need to take three showers and then dry clean
your body. Twice.
Then imagine a squat toilet on a moving train...and remember that
bathrooms in China do not have soap.
So. I'm dirty. Imagine wanting to curl up in bed with ice cream and
cry to sad music.......times that by five.
Now you understand how being on a train in China feels.
But, I'M ALIVE! Let the "games" begin?

Me

Friday, February 22, 2013

Email to Family.....

Written on Feb. 2nd.

Family Peoples!

Tomorrow (Feb. 3rd) I'm going to Jessica's hometown for the Chinese
New Year (Spring Festival) celebration. I'll be gone for 16 days. I'm
super excited for everything except the train ride to her home. 16
HOURS ON THE TRAIN! Squat toilets on a moving train! I'm freaked out
about that. But, I can't wait to arrive and see where she is from.
Our train will leave from Kunming at 11pm. Then, on Monday, we will
arrive in Hunan Province, Huaihua. That city is pronounced Why-Waw.
In Huaihua, some of Jessica's highschool friends will pick us up and
take us to Zhijiang. We will stay in that town for one or two nights.
Then we will go to Jessica's hometown: Huaihua, Hongjiang. She is just
south of a place called Hubei. (Pronounced Who-Bay). I don't know how
to pronounce the name of her town.
We will stay in her town until the 18th. Then we will go to a river
town called Fenghuang. Jessica says it is very beautiful and she goes
at least once or twice a year. But, it is very expensive during the
summer. She says that maybe it won't be as beautiful in the winter,
but we will be able to afford the hotels. :D
On the 19th we will return to the train town, Why-Waw, and get on
another 16 hour train ride back to Kunming. So, I will be "home" on
the 20th.
Anyway, I will take pictures, OF COURSE, but.....I thought I would let
you know....in case you were playing Where in the World is Leah San
Diego.

Also, Jessica wanted me to show you the Chinese character names for
these places. I don't know if you can see it....sometimes the Chinese
doesn't send in my emails. But, I will try.

Huaihua: 湖南省 怀化市
Zhijiang:  芷江侗族自治县
Hongjiang: 湖南省 洪江区
Fenghuang: 湖南省凤凰

LOVES!

Hospital

Written on 1/21/13

WARNING: THIS MIGHT SEEM GRAPHIC TO SOME, BUT I MUST TELL THE TALE......

Sometimes I have some serious stomach issues. I figure it is because my taste buds love spicy food in China, but my stomach isn't the biggest fan. So, when it happens.....I don't think too much of it.
Like two weeks ago, I didn't think too much of it......but, I was annoyed that throwing up was added into the mix. Oh, and then I slept for 12 hours straight. But, it still didn't seem like that big of a deal to me.
Well, Saturday (1/19), I woke up at 4am and went to the bathroom. A lot. And then, I threw up. Back to bed. 30 minutes later = bathroom. A LOT. Throw up. Bed.
I only threw up twice before work, but I went to the bathroom about every 30 mins. and I was SUPER worried about the bus ride to school. But, I can't call in sick on Saturdays....there is no one to teach my classes!
I was miserable. I was frustrated.
I sent Chris a text and asked him to bring me some stomach medicine. But, all it did was mask the pain. Bathroom. Bathroom. Bathroom. Pretty soon it was every 20 mins....then 15 mins......and I threw up 3 more times.
Finally, at around 5pm, I couldn't take it anymore. Because you have to understand...............China uses squat toilets. Only some buildings have the Western style toilets....and I just wanted to go home to my Western style toilet. It was getting to the point where I was wobbly on my feet and I was terrified of falling into the squat toilet.
So, I went to talk to Jessica about teaching the last hour of my class. Then, I went to my boss and asked him to take me home. I was so close to tears. He asked what was wrong, I told him....he said that I had been away from work for two days just two weeks ago...it was time to go to the hospital.
*sigh* He had to stop at a hotel on the way to the hospital so that I could use the bathroom.
Then, we get there and sit in front of the doctor. *sigh* My boss had to translate for me. It was so embarrassing. He translated all about my stool, my stomach pain, my last period. All stuff you don't want to talk to your boss about. THEN, the doctor lifted up my shirt to feel around my stomach and ask where the pain was: IN FRONT OF ANDREW! So, by this time I had decided I would rather just die of embarrassment.
But, instead, they sent me to get a stool sample......squat toilet. Not only that! I had to carry my stool sample in the elevator to take it to the lab. So, seriously, death by embarrassment....
Then, Andrew took me to a nurse so they could put me in a bed for an IV and to take some blood. I had been in the bed for about an hour when Jessica, Charlie and Chris show up. Andrew took them to dinner. They come back. Andrew goes to get my test results.....acute stomach flu. The doctor will give me some medicine, but they want me to stay until three IV bags are empty.
Andrew left at 8pm. At around 9:30 I had to go to the bathroom again......they don't have the rolling thing for the IV. I had to take it with me and hang it on the little purse thing in the bathroom stall.
At 10pm I went to the bathroom again, Jessica told me later that they did rock, paper, scissors to see who had to stay with me. You know, to translate.....Jessica lost. (Makes you feel pretty loved and awesome, right?)
Soon after the boys left.....bathroom every 20 minutes started again. At 12:30am I told Jessica to tell them I just wanted to go home. It wasn't working. Just give me the medicine and let me to TO MY WESTERN TOILET! My knees were killing me and it was getting harder and harder to stand back up again.
Jessica went to talk to the doctor. The doctor returned saying that I had gone to the bathroom too much and the IV was leaving my body too fast. They wanted me to pay more money to get another IV bag with a higher content of KA. (Whatever that is.....)
I got angry. Like, Bruce Banner is in the building.........that angry.
I told Jessica to tell them NO NO NO! I'm not paying more money for something that isn't working. I do NOT want them to put MORE of something in my body that isn't working. I don't even know what KA is, but it wasn't doing anything but making my arm and my chest hurt. I had been doing this stupid IV for about 7 hours. I was done.
So, they told Jessica to go downstairs and get my prescription. It turned out to be imodium.....*sigh*
They took out the IV and I went to the bathroom one more time. Then, we went to the office to check out. I told Jessica that they just wanted more money from me. I was so angry.
They gave us the check out papers....and Jessica asked how often I should take the pills. I asked her to translate and she said, "the doctor said you can take two more in 12 hours. But, she thinks you will be just fine in the morning."
I glared at the doctor for a long time and then turned to Jessica, "then why did she want me to stay for 6 more hours of IV? I told you they just wanted more money."
Jessica told me just to forget it......go home. So, we walked outside and hailed a cab.
It was horrible and ridiculous. I don't like hospitals in America, but...it's just one more thing I'm going to be super grateful for when I get back to the States.

Oh...and here is the random thing....I still had one IV bag left to go when I demanded to go home. So, what did the nurse do? Sent the unused IV bag home with me. So, I have an IV bag full of clear liquid sitting in my pantry.
I am on another planet.

One Year in China

I sent this email to my family on Jan. 14th...

Family Peeps,

Yesterday, my time, was my one year anniversary in China. January 30th is my one year anniversary in Kunming. But, I just wanted to talk to you about China in general.

I'd like to share with you some of the things I've learned about life/myself over the past year.

The news in every country is very biased. Eastern people have so much distrust for Westerners, but they are also so curious.....the conflicting feelings are very confusing for me. I can't imagine how confusing it must be for the people staring/yelling/spitting at me. (I've only been spit at once, for the record)
I'm stronger than I thought I was....but, not as brave as I thought I was. I thought I would travel so much here. But, I find that I am afraid. This language is so different....and the people are not as welcoming as I thought they would be....I am more content to stay in Kunming. I find that I am too afraid to leave this city by myself.
But, I am stronger than I thought I was. I have been very lonely. But, the crying about it stopped sometime in the middle of the summer. I have grown this year. Maybe I'm only stronger than I thought I was because I have become stronger here.......I cry less about being lonely, being stressed, being confused........
Oh, but sometimes I still cry when the kids at the school call me fat. That I will never get used to.
This past year has proven to me how easy our lives are in America. Even our worst days are nothing like what people here have to deal with. We are blessed. I can't wait to come home and appreciate those blessings....because I don't think I have been appreciative enough.
I have learned that teaching/acting/writing/and reading are the actual fiber of my being. I'm not kidding, I'm pretty sure I am made of this stuff. I LOVE using my acting skills to teach a grammar point, or use my writing skills to prove a grammar point.....or use my reading skills to teach myself how to be better at this.......
But, I have also learned that I am not good with little kids. I don't know why, but I can't talk to them. I talk to everybody like they are an adult. I was actually talking to Debbie about this on Skype. I don't do baby talk. I can't change the way I talk......I can't change the way I communicate with people.
Therefore, I need older students. I seriously need to teach secondary education.......I need students that understand me.....or that can grow to understand me. Because, it has become very clear that I am an old dog.....and I refuse to learn new tricks!
Also, I have learned that China is basically another planet. This place blows my mind. I don't understand how Chinese people learn their own language! Or how people remember all the different rules, traditions, and random things.......
Here are some examples of how different they are over here:
Daughters are not allowed to talk to their fathers unless their fathers give them permission to discuss "feelings".
They tell you that you cannot eat carrots, cold things, sweet things, or potatoes during your "time of the month" because it will give you cancer.
If a child is still born, they sell the fetus..............because some people here will EAT THE FETUS so that they can have the vitamins that the "baby didn't use." WHAT?!?! No!
If you order a chicken platter in a restaurant here.....you get the entire chicken. Head, feet, organs, EVERYTHING! And people eat it all....right down the eyeballs. (This is the same with a fish platter.)
They think Americans are wasteful because we don't eat the heads and feet of animals. We "throw too much good food away."
I'm told that eating a rabbit head is quite tasty, but the skull is a bit scary to look at while you are eating it............................
...............
After a mother dog has her babies.....they make soup with the mom. If nobody buys the puppies, they make puppy soup.
If you order a dish called, The Dragon Fights the Lion, you are eating a bowl of snake and cat............
They don't care about litter over here, because they have people who sweep the streets all day and night. So, there is garbage all over the place.
Toddler boys where crotchless pants. No diaper. So, animals and children will pee and poo on the sidewalk. If a toddler girl needs to potty.....the parents will hold her over a bush or near a tree.
Parents and grandparents will interrupt my class to make sure their child is drinking water.....or sometimes they will interrupt my class to force feed the child a piece of fruit or bread. While I'm trying to talk to the rest of the students in English, the parent/grandparent is yelling in Chinese at their little person. It is so distracting. AND SO ANNOYING.
So many people (married or single) still live with their parents. So many people don't know how to cook because mom or grandma will still come to their house and do all the cooking for them.
Most people here don't know the difference between pop, rock, country and rap.....because they just like our pop music. Oh. And Air Supply.

On a side note: They love Justin Bieber. I don't know if I spelled that right....and I don't care. But, the students at our school want to listen to him every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY! It is going to make my head explode.
But, luckily.....the students all like Adele too. But, only one song. At first I was worried that they would ruin the song for me, because they play it so much.....but, listening to 4 and 5 year old kids singing "Rolling in the Deep." SO CUTE! They get most of the lyrics wrong, but they sing with GUSTO!

Oh, and a random story. One time, on the bus, a girl tried to steal my wallet. I caught her....and pushed her away and said some angry words. Jessica was with me, but the bus was so packed....she didn't notice until after I had noticed. Well, Jessica said that one guy on the bus told the thief, "that was so close! You almost got away with it!" And then another guy said to me in Chinese, "don't worry, rich American, she just wanted some of your rich dollars." And then they all laughed.
After Jessica translated for me I was so angry. I mean, they WATCHED her try to steal from me and nobody would help! I like to think that if I was in America......someone would have helped me. But, maybe I'm just biased myself.........

Anyway. I'm only half ready for another year of this. I haven't saved NEARLY as much money as I thought I would. But, I'm trying to think positive and pretend that the lessons I've learned about myself are worth the trade. That's so glass half full of me, right?!?

One down....one to go!

Me