TSH makes me appreciate CHS

Okay this time it’s not completely my fault—I tried to do another post but apparently it didn’t actually work, and I lost an hour’s worth of work. I know my mom wants me to write about the wedding on Sunday, but honestly I just don’t want to right now. I don’t know if I will soon, but now isn’t the time.

This afternoon was a bad one for the most part. After having a great lunch (I got to talk to Dylan!) we went to Chinese, which we were scheduled to have one class with Monica then two with Vala. I don’t recall the last thing I posted about, so I don’t know if I told you guys or not, but I’ve been having more and more frequent arguments with Vala. I could complain about her and Tongshenghu for quite some time but I won’t. Anyhow, we’ve been watching this new-ish (it was in theaters like after I had been here a month) movie that’s English name is something like Under the Hawthorn Tree (not 100% sure of that). It’s based on a true story and is really, really sad, one of the main characters dies at the end of leukemia and..wow. I cried (although that means nothing, it was enough crying I had to leave the room). Midori cried too but not only because of the movie…we all comforted her, I was hugging her the most and at some points I was completely supporting her tiny body because she just like, collapsed in my arms. It was the first time any of us had seen Midori sad, it was really shocking. I learned why she was crying because she was talking out loud in English but I was the only one close enough to hear her…I’m not going to disclose what she said because it’s not my place to, but after I understood her I started crying again, too. Moritz was laughing while she cried, and Monica and Vala thought she was just really emotional about the movie…idiots. Monica obviously didn’t know how to handle the situation at all, she was trying to talk to Midori in Chinese that Midori didn’t understand, and then was like writing how to say “sad” and “cry” on the board in Chinese. Seriously, sometimes I don’t think these people get anything. At all. It was so completely obvious that she wasn’t crying about the movie. Also, they seemed really unaffected by it…the rest of us (excluding Moritz at first but then he finally shut up) were either trying to comfort her (Karina, May and I) or just being silent and thinking or something like that. Monica and Vala were still being like, their happy cheerful selves, which honestly never works when someone is seriously upset and you’re trying to cheer them up. Just..no. After our 20 minute sob-fest, I got Midori to stop crying and from there class slowly started again…the one thing they did do right somewhat was we watched this cartoon that’s famous all over Asia in Japanese just for Midori. It was a kind gesture by them at least.

After this for an hour, we’re told we’re going to the Kindergarten to help plan an English-learning activity for Friday. We were warned about this on Monday so we had all agreed to it (usually some of us protest because it involves staying late at school). So instead of having two classes with Vala we had one, and then we all walked together. We ran into Max (funny/quirky but cool music teacher) on the way, he was supposed to be doing the English-game thing too. We’re all walking now, Max and I explaining a game that we both know that’s really easy to teach and actually pretty fun. Still not feeling great after the Midori thing but better than before, Max was acting pretty crazy, asking everyone how to say “grand” in their language and then he would repeat it while jumping in the air, throwing his arms up. He’s a really funny guy. Anyways, we get there, go in this big room and are all like “this shouldn’t be too bad”, but then we’re told no this is the wrong room, we go across to a different part of the kindergarten to a smaller room and still everything seems normal.

Notice the keyword in the sentence above, “seems”. Not long after we had put our bags down a line of children less than half my height walk into the room, giggling. Some have small towels tucked into the back of their shirts (like a bib but backwards, I’ve seen this a lot and don’t understand at all). We’re then told to watch them dance.

It’s a cute little Kinder-Communist song and dance, completely in English (though I didn’t realize that until like the third time I heard it) that has very basic lyrics (much more basic than normal kid’s songs, read below) and cute little cheesy dance moves. I can remember a little of the song (at the end it randomly plays the teddy bear song, which I remember from my childhood) and a few of the hand gestures:

Hello! How are you? (repeat four times)
I’m fine! Thank you! (repeat four times)
Hello ____ Hello _____ Hello _____ Hello Bobby! (I don’t remember the other names…)
What are you doing?
Watching TV, Watching TV
What are you doing?
I’m cooking, I’m cooking
What are you doing?
Eating, Eating, Eating
Yummy Yummy! (put thumbs up)
What are you doing?
I’m washing my hands (shake hands in front of your body)
Teddybear Teddybear turn around
Teddybear Teddybear touch the ground
Teddybear Teddybear show your shoe
Teddybear Teddybear that will do!
(repeat whole teddy thing twice)

I feel like it was longer and more ridiculous than that but now I can’t remember all of it, aha. Oh there was also a line in it (the most propaganda-esc line) “We are happy kids! We are happy kids!” that the kids are saying but of course they don’t understand any of the song. They sing some of it in very I-don’t-speak-the-language-just-remember-what-the-song-sounds-like voices, dropping out at random parts (sometimes in the middle of a word) if they can’t remember it. It was very cute, trust me, but then…

“Now you guys go do it with them!”

We were informed that we had to perform this dance meant for 2-5 year olds in front of representatives from the government on Friday. Every single one of us protested. But no, they kept pushing it (Max had no idea this was going to happen, and Vala claimed she didn’t…but I’m suspicious of her). They wouldn’t take no for an answer. Finally they said “just try” but apparently they thought that meant we were doing it? So we kept doing this dumb little dance over and over, all of us looking completely ridiculous. They claimed the point of us doing this little dance was to “show that the foreign students play and dance with the Kindergarteners”…to which I suggested we just actually go play with Kindergarteners and have these important people come see us on a tour of the place or something. Be honest, not make up this dance shit and claim we commonly “dance with Kindergarteners”. Because we don’t.

Finally we had to surrender, since they wouldn’t accept anything else, so I proposed a term of acceptance—the school TV station couldn’t film us. These random Senior department kids seem to follow us around and interview us at random times mostly when we’re not looking great or doing something stupid or completely posed. Vala just said “next week I can take you guys out to do something fun…” and I was like “no, we don’t care about that, we don’t want to be filmed. Period” but she wouldn’t listen to me, kept insisting “oh but the TV people will come film you…”. Vala really does not understand me a lot of the time, I swear. Either that or she chooses to pretend that she doesn’t understand. Really. Is it too much to ask that our embarrassing dance for people we’ve never met not be filmed and played for the entire school? Really. Even thinking about it now infuriates me. I really dislike having Vala as our liason, because the liason is supposed to be someone who is outside of your school completely and only one person is assigned to each. For us, we all have Vala and she’s our teacher. Tongshenghu is just a bad school, I’m sorry. Basically everyone thinks that except for Giulia. Ugh. So fed up with TSH.

On a brighter note, going to Harry Potter midnight release with Karina and Sabrina probably, then on the night of the 19th May and I are flying to Nanjing to see our friends…I’m going to stay with an American AFSer that I met on facebook in like March for a week, we’re going to celebrate Thanksgiving together. So that’s something to look forward to, right?

Once again, sorry for lack of posts, but WordPress hates me and these take so damn long to write. I just spent an hour on this post! And it was all negative! Sorry…

Oh and if you want to find some other way to kill your time, check out this cool list of 20 untranslatable words from different languages… I like them a lot http://matadornetwork.com/abroad/20-awesomely-untranslatable-words-from-around-the-world/

8 thoughts on “TSH makes me appreciate CHS”

  1. Hi! My name is Alison, and I, too, am from California! I’ve been reading various AFS blogs of students who went to China, as I am currently studying Mandarin (1st year, freshman) and am VERY interested in studying abroad in China. Do you have any recommendations or tips? I would really appreciate it. How difficult was it for you to get credit for your classes there? How much Mandarin do you need to know before you feel comfortable? (What was your level before you left?)
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hey Alison! I’m not logged into my account right now so that’s why this isn’t super official or anything, but thanks for reading my blog! I studied Chinese for three years prior to coming here, so as a freshman (last year) I was in Mandarin 2. Honestly, if you come here with even one solid year of Chinese I think you’ll be fine–I started ahead of everyone but they all caught up in no time. Right now I’m having difficulty getting credit (read latest blog post), but if when you first come here you make it clear that you need grades and whatnot, I’m sure you’ll have no problem. Each school is different, and your province/host school will really determine the overall feel of your experience. I…can’t think of any specific tips off the top of my head at the moment, I’m really tired, went to the Harry Potter premiere last night but…if you want to email me I’d be happy to talk to you about it! My blog email is poky.pocky@yahoo.com , if you email me there I’ll give you my personal one.
      Hope you’re having a great evening!

  2. Aww I’m sorry to hear about you and Midori at the movie. *gives hug over the Internet*

    It’s sorta scary the communist propaganda thing…

    But OMG! You’re going to the Harry Potter premeire!! And you’ll probably see it before me due to time difference! No fair!

    Have fun! And I miss yoooooou!

    And whose wedding did you go to?

  3. It’s OK to vent once in awhile, after all it is part of life and it gives us a better idea of how things are done there. I don’t understand the reason for the obviously VERY sad movie you watched. Was there supposed to be a learning experience in there somewhere? You don’t have to answer that. Love and miss you,BIG BIG hugs.

  4. Hey! My name is Jaede. I am planning to go to China next year through AFS. I have several questions for you. Do you want me to ask them here, or should I email you?

    It sounds like you’re having fun!
    p.s. I also love how you use sarcasm in your posts because other AFS blogs make the people seem so perfect, but I don’t think I could do that without using some sarcasm!

    1. Hi Jaede!
      Email would be easier, I check that more often. My blog email is poky.pocky@yahoo.com , if you email me there I’ll give you my personal one. Oh and thanks (about my blog)! At first I was tempted to sugar-coat everything and only talk about the good things, but that wouldn’t be honest or realistic. People should know what it’s /really/ like, shouldn’t they? But yeah, email me!

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