It is about 8 weeks until the end of the semester… which means the end of China! Is it possible? Have we really been here for almost three years? It’s inconceivable.After all we came here for one year, right? This thought is causing me to weigh up and mull over (and various other verbs) all that has happened over this time and try to make some kind of sense of it all.I don’t really fancy my chances so I decided to just consider it this way- Things I will miss and things I won’t about China.I apologize right up front if this post is going to be a bit rambly but you have probably gathered that it’s an emotional time.We don’t really know where we are even going in June and we don’t know how we will feel about being back home either.
SO here goes: Things I definitely will miss about China.
1.Being able to go down and get really tasty cheap and varied foods at any hour of the day or night for practically free.We also have a small grocery store guy under our building.The store is manned by a grocery man (whom we have nicknamed Coconut Head), his wife two daughters and occasionally his father-in-law.( or maybe his father I am not sure).They are lovely and always welcome us.We sometimes just walk through the store to get home and say hi. Will try to photograph them before we leave.
2.People smiling and saying hello on the street as if we are royalty (I know some laowei don’t like this but I kinda do)
3.Chinese babies.-Don’t know why they are just amazing
4.Feeling free- we have few responsibilities here.Nobody cares what we do, where we go, or how we dress.We feel liberated because of being outsiders.I know it’s different when you are home.You have to worry about bills, the news, what’s going on with family, and you are constantly bombarded with the current affairs, politics etc.Here we don’t understand the news, we don’t read the papers or watch TV.I know it’s a bit escapist but it’s very liberating and I would like to be able to do it at home but I know it’s not feasible.
5.Hooking up with all kinds of people- here just by virtue of the fact that you are an outsider,it is really easy to become friends with all kinds of people,both Chinese and foreigners.You just say hello and then you find yourself going for dinner,hanging out with them or even going away for the weekend with them.Nobody cares where you are from or how old you are.Last weekend we had a couchsurfer lady from Boston staying with us for a week.WE went to dinner at a Vegetarian restaurant with her and there were 25 other couchsurfers there,some from here but some from France,Brazil,Malaysia,Singapore and elsewhere.IT’s fun- you just eat,chat say good bye and move on.
6.Our job- I use this word loosely.The job is completely undemanding and relaxing.I have already mentioned how lovely the students are.They send us messages saying how great we are all the time.They are polite and charming.Yesterday at our Public Speaking Class a couple of kids came up at the end to tell us how much they enjoy the class.It’s just so great.And the campus was looking splendid today as I walked to work.Working 8-10 hours a week in that situation is hardly taxing.There is no driving as we go by school bus.We don’t have to sweat about finding a parking space.We don’t have a lot of paperwork to do.We don’t have staff meetings- we just teach,chat to the students and go.There is little preparation for Oral English class.SO all in all, that’s a big draw to this place.
Now for things I definitely will NOT miss about being here:
1The spitting thing- I have mentioned it before and there is no getting round it.They do it , we don’t.End of story
2.The pavements (sidewalks for my US buddies)- I don’t think I mentioned this but I fell down a couple of weeks ago and sprained my ankle.Now I know this is something that can happen anywhere.But the likelihood of it happening in China is pretty high.THe pavements are woeful and they seem to get broken,cracked ,etc very fast.Even a short while after you see a pavement has been laid it gets all messed up.They are continually digging everything up and building everywhere and walking down the street can be hazardous.
Likewise there are often strange things (hooks,bits of metal etc) protruding here and there.They are digging up our neighbourhood for some reason and it never finishes.China is just one huge building site.It also means the street is dusty and gravelly most of the time.
3.Fireworks- I never was a big fan of these not Guy Fawkes Night ,not Independence Day ,not any time.But I particularly don’t appreciate Chinese fireworks at all hours of the day and night, come rain come shine.And especially not 5am on a Sunday morning.
4.No bread- much as I love Chinese food there are some things I miss from home.Good whole meal bread for one.Good fresh milk is another.WE buy German longlife kind of milk and I really dislike it.There are other Western foods we have found at the store downtown but sometimes you just want a nice fresh salad with some massive chunks of Feta cheese and black olives on it,right?
I know I will miss jiaozi,baozi, gong bao ji ding and so on once I get home,but that’s life I suppose.
5,Being illiterate- now I know I said that I enjoy not reading the newspapers but that doesn’t mean I want to feel like an idiot.And naturally living here and NOT being part of everything means that I do feel like a total idiot much of the time.The upside is as I said,no meetings,no news,no involvement.But this is exactly the problem.We do have a limited amount of Chinese,so conversations can only go so far.WE have really given up trying to get any further.So this means we have no clue what is going on sometimes,and of course we can’t read the notices posted in the lobby of our apartment block.So we are illiterates.
Sorry that the last two posts are a bit philosophical.Hopefully when we travel to Laos and/or Thailand and Yunnan it will get back to its usual travel-blogginess.Comments welcome.
I could go on but I think I need to muse it all over a bit more.
So that will do for today.