Friday, February 22, 2013

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 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 to go!


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