The Mid-Autumn Festival

Despite the fact that today is the first day of autumn, yesterday was the Mid-Autumn/Moon Festival.

I know, I know, it makes absolutely no sense that it was yesterday. I mean, there probably was a full moon but it’s not like we could see it with all the smog. The Mid-Autumn Festival is just an excuse to eat mooncake and see family and not have school, it would seem, which is all right by me! Technically, I was supposed to go to school in the morning, but my sister didn’t have school and so I woke up at nine (which is when I should be at school) and I was supposed to get out at 11:20 for the holiday ANYWAYS…so I didn’t go.
Instead, I woke up, went on the computer for a little bit, ate a large breakfast of only carbs, attempted to install Chinese on my computer for an hour (unsuccessfully, I might add, the language bar says I’m typing in Chinese but it’s quite obvious I’m not) and then was told we were going out to lunch. So I redid my pigtails, noticed it was raining, and put on jeans, a long flannel shirt and (to my excitement) boots! It was the first occasion upon which I have been able to wear boots in Changsha, let alone a long-sleeve shirt. The other times that it rained it was still pretty warm, but it was very windy and cold (still is today) which was an appreciated change of pace.
And then we were off. Driving, driving, somewhere. No idea where. I’m still at the point with my family that I never have a clue where we’re going or what we’re doing…at least on this occasion I knew we were going to eat. Neither of my parents are home (it’s been a week and a half, well more like two weeks, of this now) and so my aunt and her daughter have been staying at our house. Sabrina is constantly doing my cousins hair. The two of them are either both playing games (on the iTouch or on Sabrina’s phone or computer) or Sabrina is doing my ‘little sister’s hair while my ‘little sister’ plays one of the mentioned games. It’s quite a system they’ve got.
Anyhow, we drive to the apartment where some family members live. We’ve been there before. We eat lunch there with some aunts, a grandma, and a little nine-year-old boy cousin that I think of in my head as “Grubby”, because, to be honest, he is. Honestly, I really don’t like him. He’s pudgy and is very piggy when it comes to food, eating with his hands and shoving food in his mouth. He’s also sort of a little brat because I think he’s the only boy on that side of the family, and the gender difference lets him get away with being a brat. He didn’t like what my grandma made for lunch, and so he sat next to me scowling and tapping his bowl with his chopsticks over and over again. I don’t know how long he actually did this but it seemed like a VERY long time to me. Finally he decided he was too hungry to be a pest so he began shoveling food in his mouth and then promptly got up and started annoying other family members. I don’t really know if they were annoyed, though, they acted sort of like “oh, well, you know how little boys are…” about it, which annoyed me even more than he did. I don’t know, maybe I just get a bad vibe from him. No way to be sure.

On a happy note, my grandma made a delicious lamb…I don’t know what the marinade was but I loved it because it tasted like something I would’ve eaten on a rainyday like that in America. It was comfort food. I complimented it heavily, and was told she made it just for me(:

We said our goodbyes and we were off, driving to yet another undisclosed destination. We came to another apartment building, where apparently the Aunt that’s been with us lives. So we went into their tiny apartment and…nothing. I thought we were just dropping by, but we stayed there for..four hours? I think. Watching some Golden-Globe-like awards show that wasn’t very entertaining. There were very few preformances and when saying the nominations, there were no video clips. Speeches were extremely brief and applause limited. Of course, Sabrina grabbed the computer as soon as we got there, she and my little sister (whom I gave the English name Annie, at her request) took turns using…logging onto their QQ’s and IMing God knows who. Sabrina looking at more pictures of Justin Bieber.

After about three hours of being extremely bored and frustrated, I finally got to go on the computer for a half hour. Didn’t really do much but it was better than nothing. My phone wasn’t working, either, so I couldn’t have been texting any of my friends…my Aunt had tried to fix my phone but to no avail. I asked if I could exchange money and she said yes, so at four off we went.

Long story short, the bank said no. It’s a holiday. Don’t know if it would’ve worked on a normal day, either.

Then, we went to dinner, even though I wasn’t hungry at all from my huge and amazing lunch. We went to my grandpa’s younger sister’s house, picking up Grubby No. 2  on the way. Grubby No. 2 is my other nine-year-old-boy-cousin who’s not as bad as Grubby No. 1 but still bugs the crap out of me. Why, you ask? This is the cousin who must always be playing games on someone elses cell phone. Always. Always “Ni de shouji? Wo keyi…” blah blah blah (oops, forgot, translation: Your cell phone? Can I…”). And he also never sits in the car, he’s always standing really close to me and I don’t like it. Makes me uncomfortable. Anyways.

We ate dinner. It wasn’t great, not going to lie. I wasn’t hungry and the food didn’t make me want to eat any more. The kids were watching a somewhat-disturbing TV show featuring a pig in a superhero costume as the main character. That, I’m fine with. The fact that the “bad guy” is a very tall ‘pig’ (pig face, human body) wearing a Superman costume without the label, is a little weird to me. Also, the bad guy takes out this wand thing, waves it, and the scene cuts to actual Legos building into some giant monster, which then appears in animated form, and the show goes on with this creature now being used as a weapon. Freakiest part of the show was definately the pig-headed, human-bodied teacher, wearing stereotypical female-suit and ugly 60’s glasses, who had very large boobs. I think she was a blond, also. Not really something I ever wanted to see in my life, but what can you do?

Just when I thought the random, unexplained day was going to end, I was told we were going to see Inception. Now, at this point I could have fallen asleep right there. The thought of watching a movie as long as Inception…well, it was daunting. I thought it was going to be in Chinese, also (fortunately, it wasn’t).  On our walk there, we went through a side-street of the famous Walking Street (I believe I’ve blogged about that…? if not, there are flickr pictures). It was very cool, I liked it a lot. Some parts were quirky, as is to be expected with China. There was a Santa Claus hanging in a window, with the seasonally-challenged wish “Merry Christmas!”. In one of the malls of walking street, we were walking by one of many lingerie stores when out of the corner of my eye I saw Angelina Jolie’s face. I turned to actually look at the advertisement, and there she was…except I knew that the body attatched to her head wasn’t hers. No, her head had definately been photoshopped onto some poor girl’s body, along with a badly-done bellybutton peircing. Wasn’t quite sure what to make of that.

We had a lot of time before the movie, so everyone else had a second dinner of KFC, and I had ice cream (still wasn’t really hungry…). Then, we saw the movie, which was much better the second time. Finally we headed home. Got back at around 11:20, I stayed up until 12 writing a poem and Skyping with my mom…forgetting that I had school the next day. Sabrina and Annie didn’t, so they were fine with staying up late…

Sabrina told me, “if you want to go to school tommorow you can take a taxi”, which to me means “no need to go to school, since you don’t know how to get a taxi”. I was woken up at 8:44 by Vala, my teacher, calling me and telling me to come to school…(school starts at 9, I might add, and is a 20-minute drive minimum). I took a shower, got dressed as slowly as possible, ate two mooncakes for breakfast (healthy, right?) and then damn, I got my very first taxi. On my own.
Makes me proud.

Kumquat Trash Ice..mmm, yum

Once again, my computer has repeatedly decided that WordPress is not it’s friend, and so here I am at school blogging during my imprisonment in the library. Now I can’t remember when exactly, but the other day my sister and I went to buy curlers because she decided to curl her hair. Oh I believe this was…Friday? Saturday perhaps? Anyhow, after buying some medium-sized pink ones, we decided to stop at Lucky’s Cake Shop, a nice “sophisticated” cake and drink shop. I got…well, to be honest, I have no idea what it’s made of or what it’s called, only that it’s extremely good. If you’ve ever had Mochi, the outside is basically the same but there’s no ice cream inside, only cake? and uhm, cream? Perhaps. Anyhow, I ate that and ordered a drink with it, since Sabrina was getting a mocha. I decided that ‘Black Currant Bubble’ sounded like Bubble Tea, which I like, so I ordered it. Really it was like a Shirley Temple with something other than Cherry flavor…it was delicious. Like, really really good. While looking at the list of drink options, I wrote down a few because their names amused me: Kumquat Trash Ice, Mint Ice Rule, Plum Fruit Vinegar, Peach More Fruit, Roses Brew Yogurt, Mango Ice a Sand, Nuts Coffee Ice a Sand. So…you can see what I was choosing from. Most of these were under the chic label “Fashion Drinks”, which was news to me. I had no idea that a drink could be fashionable, but it seems they can. Sabrina’s “ice mocha” (literal translation there, she said bing, I know these things) had no ice. One of the things I really don’t understand here is the fact that no one uses ice in any of their drinks…I made a fool of myself at one resturaunt when they served cucumbers with ice and I thought the ice was for our drinks. I grabbed a cube and dropped it in my orange juice and everyone looked at me funny, then started laughing. I hadn’t seen the cucumbers until then, if you were wondering.

Also, when you buy a drink from a “fridge” here at a store, it’s not the same temperature as in America. It’s warmer, so that when you hold the drink it’s slightly cold and when you drink it it tastes only a little chillier than room temperature, which here is generally hot. When you buy ice cream (packaged, of course, drumstick equivilents) it’s always a little warmer than normal, so it’s much more cream than ice. Chocolate’s never a good idea in these cases, always melts and is very sticky.

My First Horror Movie

My unspoken plan to never watch a Saw movie was ruined when the PE teacher didn’t show up, the principal said “why don’t you watch a movie?” and a boy who calls himself Monkey decided to put on the last 1/3 of either Saw 4 or 5. Now, for those of you who don’t know, I am a totally sheltered child as far as scary movies go. From an early age, I had an extremely overactive imagination, causing even the slightest scary moment to give me nightmares for weeks. This tendancy to be extremely frightened very easily made my parents not allow me to watch anything scary, a rule that I’ve always been perfectly fine with. Come to think of it, I don’t know if that’s even a real rule. I just don’t want to watch a scary movie at all. You must take into account that before today the scariest movie I had ever seen was Coraline..and that’s animated. When I saw that I literally came out of the movie theater shaking, and throughout the whole movie was incredibly nervous and was sending nervous vibes (Mom: “are you okay?” the whole time). Anyhow, before I realize what’s happening, three people have to choose one of them to sacrifice and be electrocuted in a bath tub and… well I’m not going to even talk about the rest because I don’t want to think about it! That movie was horrible! There’s a part where two people are having their arms sawed through and Moritz was LAUGHING! HOW COULD YOU LAUGH AT THAT? I didn’t look when all the cutting was going on…I hid my face and dug my nails into Sang Min’s leg (cause he wasn’t being very supportive of me at first, either) and kept asking “is it over? is it over?” By the time we had to stop the movie (didn’t quite finish) I was shaking and almost in tears….I guess now I’ve seen what, 3 and a third R movies? Thank God I had “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris and a free period immediately after, so I cheered myself up. Just finished the book tonight, I think it might be my new favorite by him! I’ve sort of put off reading ‘Through the Looking Glass’ for now, Alice was a little too random for me right now. Next on my list? Well, I’ve got the entire chronicles of Narnia…

Making American School Look Good

Well, yesterday we all went to get our permits for living in Changsha. Apparently I don’t need one, so I honestly have no idea why I went…we just sat around the whole morning. Not that we don’t do that in school….at least I got to play Pokemon SoulSilver, although I’m stuck in this one cave (I always get stuck in caves) and it’s made me so angry I don’t want to play until I’ve looked up a guide online on how to get out! Anyhow, the real reason we all wanted to go was because Vala promised us we could go out to lunch! So NO SCHOOL FOOD (this truly is a cause for celebration). She told us we were going to a buffet….apparently a “Brazilian BBQ” buffet.
Now I’m no expert on Brazilian food, but I’m fairly sure that was not it. Sure, some of the meat MIGHT have also been served in Brazil…but chicken wings? They were very American-style. At the resturaunt there were many Chinese-favorite-fruits (such as watermelon and dragonfruit) and Chinese-favorite-desserts (mini tart-resembling items that vary in flavor and texture). I got myself some mini Eggrolls and some Chow Mein, and told Vala in America that was considered Chinese food. She became very confused. Moritz said that Germany considered that Chinese food also, and we laughed. They also had horrible excuses for french fries, a weird version of chicken nuggets which were on mini skewers and had sesame seeds in the batter (very delicious, if I do say so myself) and ice cream that looked Vanilla but was really citrus. There was a delicious Lichi-Strawberry juice, which I combined with Grape Soda to make…well, it was fabulous. Let me tell you that. Overall, the food itself was okay but not great, although still much better than school food. Man, today the school food was so bad I could only eat rice…the options to have with your rice were this flavorless I-don’t-know-what (it literally is like a slimy, yellowish slice of bland), overcooked oily eggplant with bones (usually the ‘meat’ is 75% bone, 20% fat, and 5% meat…if you’re lucky) and mysterious-orange-slices-that-aren’t-oranges (in oil, of course). There is so much oil in our school lunches that most of them appear to be served in a broth, if not soup. Makes American school food look, gasp, appealing! Sometimes. Thinking about Cal’s school food makes me want to barf too, but for different reasons. At least the meals there are recognizable…

Speaking of American school, my PE class last year was pretty lame. Although many people failed, it was because they put in no effort at all whatsoever and were thus punished for their lack of effort. I thought the girls in America who do the barely-a-jog-shuffle (as I call it), which is where you move your arms up and down and slightly bend your knees to appear as if you are jogging when really you’re just walking, are everywhere here. Literally every single girl in my PE class does not run. Or even attempt to look as if they’re running. It shouldn’t be too hard, I mean all our class consists of is everyone running one lap, then the boys playing basketball and the girls badminton, which they can’t even all do at the same time because there aren’t enough rackets. So I sprint, of course, and make everyone look bad. Especially two days ago when I forgot I had PE so I wore flipflops…the guys get to start running before us, so usually there’s a giant gap…let’s just say I went barefoot and beat a good number of them, despite my extreme disadvantage. I enjoyed myself.

Well apparently I have to go because we’re leaving the house THIS SECOND to go to another not-completely-disclosed location…I’ll be sure to tell you about more of my adventures as soon as I can!

We Crazy Americans, Saying the Opposite of What We Mean…and Find it Funny!

Well, life is not something I’m about to pretend I understand, that’s for sure. This week has been…well, you’ll see. I’ll tell you all about it.

I stayed in the hotel Sunday and Monday nights, to my surprise. No one had bothered to tell me we were staying for two nights, so I was kind of unprepared…no chargers, no clean clothing, a dead iPod and an almost-finished book. The Tongshenghu Hotel is supposedly five stars, but Sang Min and I have yet to find a real reason as to why it’s five stars…I mean, it’s very elegant looking and all, but the rooms are just as nice as a good Westin or Holiday Inn. Well, maybe a little better. But not much.

Anyhow, I had gotten angry at Sang Min that day (Monday), so my phone was unusually quiet and my fingers the rare non-tapping (texting). Of course, the minute I’m dropped off at my new hotel room, my father tells me “we want to have dinner with your Korean friend..your boy ….classmate.. call him and tell him…we have dinner tonight! at hotel!”. Which, of course, is the last thing I want to do. Besides that fact, my phone was out of money and so I couldn’t call or text anyone, which I had just told him…. So I sat in my room fretting for a while, then decided to take a shower. A little after I had gotten dressed, my dad comes and knocks on the door, saying “your classmate and teacher are here! let’s. go!” and so, looking pretty funky and with a bad zit breakout, I followed my dad. I hadn’t put on any makeup or put any effort into my appearance, because I didn’t think anyone besides my family would be there…so I walked, zits a’blazing. 
And there they were, Vala (my favorite teacher) and Sang Min. My mom and sister walked in the hotel entrance at the exact same time we entered the lobby, perfectly timed. We walked up a set of stairs I hadn’t really noticed before, and went to a restaurant that I had no idea existed (apparently this hotel has multiple?). Upon sitting down, we were served cold tea from a hot-liquids container. Sang Min and Vala sat at opposite heads of the table. Clockwise, starting from 9 o’clock, it was Vala, Mom, Dad, Sang Min, Me, Sabrina. All of the nice places to eat in China apparently have armchairs for you to sit in? Which is comfortable but a little annoying because they’re so bulky and if you put your back on the chair you’re either slumping or much too far away from your food to do much eating.

We had a good meal. Conversationally it consisted of everyone talking in Chinese and ignoring me mostly…I’m only addressed in English, despite the fact that I can understand different sections of their conversations.. My dad told me that I speak Chinese well but Sang Min is much better, but there’s not much I can do! Sang Min has lived in China three years now! I can’t compete with that…anyhow, all went well. Apparently (Sang Min told me later) they remarked that since they made me eat spicy food, my skin would probably get worse…which it did.. Thanks a lot mom and dad.
Anyhow, after dinner my dad insisted we ‘go on a walk’, so we did, down to the sports center of the hotel, which isn’t attached. Really, I think my family is one of the most spontaneous groups of people I’ve ever met…most of the time when we do things or go out, I have no clue what we’re doing, and I’m not quite sure if they do either. Because when we got to the sports center, my dad told me “I like tennis” and before I knew it, I was being given tennis balls by a trainer and I was hitting them with a nice racket…surprisingly, I wasn’t too shabby. Sabrina and Sang Min took a couple hits (wow, sounds like we’re all stoners…), then we were whisked away to the ping pong room. We all played a few games, except Vala. Sang Min had a stomach ache, so he drank some hot water in a beer glass (everyone uses beer glasses here for non-alcoholic beverages…it’s very off-putting). By the time we were done, it was pouring rain outside, of which there was no warning. We waited while my dad got the car, and then the night was over.

The next day at school, I finished my book which Sae-a lent me, A Thousand Splendid Suns. I recommend that you all read it, the book is quite amazing, although not for those who cry easily, like me. Unless, of course, you’re in an area where you aren’t embarrassed to cry…I cried a few times at home and unfortunately during school..luckily not too bad. It’s very brutal, though, so be prepared. That book gave me a new perspective on a lot of things, and I honestly knew next to nothing about Afghanistan prior to reading it.

Just a side note, as I’m typing this I’m doing so on Word because WordPress isn’t loading, still. I politely asked Sabrina not to watch TV while doing her homework, which she agreed to. I thought this would make her homework process speed up, maybe just turn off the monitor and work? Alas, no, she’s doing even less homework than she was while watching, I’ve been on here for almost an hour now and she’s still on the same page. How many photos of celebrities can one look at in a sitting? Zoe, some help here? Haha…oh wow, I just typed “lol” but then deleted it because this is a serious blog! With serious stuff! 
Oh man, I’m starting to talk like I’m IMing someone…great.

Incase you’ve wondered, I’m aware I haven’t uploaded any pictures as of late…before that was due to being at the hotel, and then laziness, but now the part of my connector that plugs into my camera is smushed. Not sure what I’m going to do about that, any suggestions? We’ll see.

I’ve started washing my face! Wow, that sounds pretty disgusting…but I mean, like regularly and with official face-washing things. We’ll see how long this lasts, so far it’s been three days. Three days down, many many more to go! I relish the thought (not.)
Damn do I miss being sarcastic. I had heard that the Chinese don’t use sarcasm, and I didn’t realize that other countries don’t either…whenever I’m sarcastic (I slip sometimes, but I can’t help it! That’s my main way of being humorous, besides impersonating people) the only person who laughs is Karina, who’s from Mexico and lived in the US for three years. The others just look at me really oddly…for instance, yesterday, we were walking from the Beautiful Prison to class. To get there, we have to pass these two bathrooms that are absolutely disgusting, smelling like a combination of….well, I’m sure you can guess. No need for me to describe. Anyhow, the smell just gets worse on the hotter day, so as we pass I turn to Guilia and say “don’t you just love that smell?”, laughing.
She looks at me very confused and says “No! It’s disgusting!”
Which makes me face-palm (when you slap your hand on your forehead), and I tell her “nevermind, I was being sarcastic”. She still looks at me oddly, “in America sometimes we say the opposite of what we mean in a way that everyone understands and it’s funny”. I then use other ‘famous’ sarcastic phrases, like “I’m not being sarcastic at ALL”, and no one seems to get it, so I give up. For now, I have a slightly cynical sarcastic voice saying in my head all the funny things that I would say out loud, but no one understands. Oh well. Just one more thing to love about home.

WordPress still doesn’t seem to work, so I’ll email this to my REAL mom, and have her post it. Hope you’re all having a great day! (not sarcastically)


Sorry I haven’t posted for a week, school was boring and gave me no inspiration, and then when I finally did have something to write about, wordpress wouldn’t work on my laptop, due to my sister hogging the internet watching Korean TV shows on her computer while doing her homework, as usual…my favorite thing, I assure you. Seven minutes to load one internet page? It’s great, I assure you. Just peachy.
Anyhow, school is very dull. I don’t feel like I’m learning too much about anything besides myself…all of the courses are middle-school level. Right now I’m typing this during my two hours of free time during lunch, whilst trapped in the Beautiful Prison called “Chinese Culture Library”. I believe I’ve told you about it before…anyhow, my weekend was pretty fun, so I’ll let you know about that. Saturday morning my sister had school, so I stayed at home on Subeta (this nerdy virtual pet site I’ve been obsessed with for a few years now…) for the whole morning. I knew we were going to “Happy Birthday Grandma Lunch” (as my father called it) but had no idea what time, because I hadn’t been told. Luckily, I thought to put clothes on, but didn’t shower or anything. My hair was in a messy, dirty ponytail, and my bangs were sticking three inches away from my forehead, because I had brushed them to show my sister and someone on Skype how funny it looked. Sooooo basically I looked like crap? and then my mom comes in, pulling a dress over her head, and says “Let’s Go!” (one of the ten English phrases she knows). Freaking out, I take a few minutes to pull all of my hair back into a ponytail, which it does verrrry reluctantly, and aided by a headband, I manage to make it all lay relatively flat on my head. The downside? I now look like some sort of ugly bird. I put in my fork earrings, a touch of mascara, and we’re off, Sabrina jumping in the car still in her school uniform. Lunch was good, with a lot of Dad (I think)’s family. Then we went back home and Sabrina and I were left to do nothing because when asked what I wanted to do I said “I don’t care, it’s up to you”, so apparently that means “Dad will play tennis, Mom will play Mahjong, Sabrina will watch Korean TV on her computer, and you can scream in your head because the internet’s so slow!”
So I called Sang Min and he and I walked around Sabrina’s school and the little stores nearby. I got stared at incredibly, as usual, and for the first time in my life saw a woman tell her toddler to poop on the sidewalk. Which he did. And I had to walk by….
So now I know why it always smells like a dirty bathroom. Because the ground IS a dirty bathroom.
So that was more fun. He left, I went home for dinner, and then we decided we were going to go to a movie. We were going to see the Expendables, (which I didn’t realize because the Chinese name translates into some awkward weird title) but that was sold out so we saw Shrek 4 in 3D. It was all in Chinese, no subtitles or anything, but I understood some of it and found it quite funny, actually. We didn’t buy any food for the movie (“too expensive” Sabrina told me, even though *I* wanted popcorn and *I* wanted to buy it for *myself*, but whatever) so we had lollipops and dried mangos… good stuff. We were going to see another movie after Shrek 4, but they were all sold out.
Sunday morning I was told we were going to “Mother’s hometown”. Nothing else. It was really hot so I put on a sort of…skimpy outfit. It’s not too bad by American standards, and I guess it was fine cause they let me wear it, but still very summer clothing. No one told me we were going with a ton of family members to meet a bunch of other family members, because it was my Mom’s Uncle’s birthday. So…yeah. Sort of awkward, but surprisingly I didn’t get as many stares in the country as in the city. A nice change. In the historic area, I got these pretty earrings and a little glass-blown pig, that I saw the guy make! I took a picture, will upload when I’m at home. I went shopping with Sang Min later that day, we went to the supermarket and bought string mozerella cheese (oh man, it was amazing) and spagetti sauce and shampoo. And then we went to his house and we made spagetti! Let me tell you, that was the best spagetti I have had in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever gone two weeks without real spagetti ever…I mean I tried some here before but it was crap, and this was realllly good. We bought Tomato-Basil sauce, which was also delicious. It overall was a very good weekend.

Alas, this post wasn’t very funny either…sorry to dissapoint, I’m very tired. Almost fell asleep during class a few times today…we spent the night in the Tongshenghu Hotel last night because our apartment doesn’t have water…the bed was nice, but we had to try a bunch of different hotels and we drove around a ton and checked in really late. The first hotel we tried, I should have taken a picture, it had a sign that said “No fireworks, pets, watermelons, or taken away items allowed”.

At last, the First Day

Unfortunately, I don’t think this post is very humorous. Just informative. Sorry in advance.
So today was my first day of school, exciting stuff. I woke up, got my hair wet, changed into some clothes, got my bag, went to breakfast with mama. I think I’m the first white person to go there, one of the waitresses must’ve told the cook staff because all the chefs took turns peeking their head out the kitchen door to look at me. The noodles were good, then off to school. We were supposed to get there a half-hour early to get our books and uniforms, which wasn’t really true because they didn’t give us anything. We were just led to our first class, Chinese.
Which was ridiculously easy. We had two teachers (three classes, first two with one, and the last one with another). The first one was young, and seemed like she had never taught before because she was nervous…we ‘learned’ extremely basic Chinese (Ni Hao, Zaijian, Wo, Ta, Ni, Laoshi, Tongxuemen). For you non-Mandarin speakers out there, that means Hello, Goodbye, I/Me, He/She, You, Teacher, Students. Things most people already knew, even if they had never taken Mandarin before. We then did the vowel sounds (which can be hard) and be pe me fe. I can’t really explain be pe me fe to people who haven’t taken Chinese before…my best advice would be to search on Youtube for “Chinese Alphabet Song” and some annoying thing will play, and you’ll sort of get it.
The second teacher, Vala, is one of the AFS people, and she’s really nice. A good teacher, too, she taught us useful words for talking about Tongshenghu (my school). She also gave us a little geography lesson so we knew about Changsha and the Hunan province in general.
Finally, after 120 minutes of that, (with ten minute breaks after each 40 minutes), it was lunch time. The only upside to this was getting to hang out with everyone and talk…no one likes the food the school has very much. After we eat, we have around two hours to sit in this “Intercultural Library” (that we are the only apparant users of) which we aren’t allowed to leave (except to go to the bathroom). It’s like a very beautiful and boring prison…we’re trying to figure out what we’re going to do there every single day. Probably cards of some sort. Moritz had his iTouch, but that got old after a while and only two people can play a game at a time. So yeah, we chilled for a while, not knowing where our next classes were, or if we were getting uniforms or books yet. We talked to Vala and she gave us books (but not enough for everyone, and missing some subjects) but still not uniform. Then off to class.
In my class I have Moritz, Pauline and Karina. Maybe also Guilia, but she was in the hospital apparently for some unknown reason. Hope she’s okay. We didn’t know how many students would be in the class, so we sat in the fifth row (there were like twelve) where there were four non-broken seats in a row. Turns out, the other students only filled up two rows…so we stood out by our clothing, ethnicity, AND where we sat in class. Great. Walking to the classroom had already gotten us stared at by an entire army of small Chinese children. Forty brown eyes staring at you and pointing excitedly. I said I liked it before…now it’s just getting a little annoying. When I went shopping with my sister, people were turning to stare at me even more, one would get a glimpse of me and tell their friend who then would also look and point. I really want to make a shirt that either says “I know I’m white” or “Don’t stare, please”. In characters, of course, so it would throw them off. Maybe. We’ll see.
Anyhow, I had Chemistry, Music, then Physics. Chemistry was sooooo boring. These kids must’ve never been taught any chemistry in their whole lives….and very little science for that matter. Today they learned what a hypothesis was, how to do an experiment (which was in the complete wrong order, along with their definition of hypothesis, but whatever) and what an atom was. No one had ever heard of an atom! Like, holy crap! They didn’t know protons or neutrons or electrons! This is China!
Music was the highlight of the day by far. The teacher is Chinese-American, and only speaks a little Chinese. He was very…Athenian-like, he was all over the classroom, asking individual people questions and being very excited about writing on the blackboard (yes, we use blackboards. No whiteboards to be seen). He gave us all sheet music for “The Rose”, which I remember from somewhere, probably chorus at one point or another. Anyhow, he played it on his keyboard, and I hummed along. We then began dissecting the music, and I was the only one who knew any of it. I felt very proud. Julie, (my piano teacher), if you’re reading this, be proud! I was talking chord progressions and everything!
Physics was…weird to say the least. We talked about heat the whole time, and my teacher kept talking about polar bears. I’ll try to paraphrase part of his lecture: “So polar bears eat. A lot. And then they go into the snow hole and they sleep for FOUR MONTHS! And when they come out, it’s amazing! It’s amazing! They are like SUPERMODELS! So if you want to look like a supermodel, all you have to do is lie in your bed for four months and never eat anything! -laughs nervously because no one says anything- Just kidding! If you do that, you will die! -more nervous laughter- You are not a polar bear!”
Argh, once again, I can’t capture the quirkiness of the lecture…I can never do Chinese people justice! You have to take into note that he has an accent and was speaking verrry slowly, so the Chinese students could understand him. Which I don’t think they did. Oh well.
And that was my day. Not too interesting. Ahhhh I just wrote so much, I didn’t want to write that much! Not about that, at least.
I wanted to write about yesterday! Because yesterday I went to my friend Sang Min’s house! He’s Korean and a boarder of sorts at Tongshenghu. He lives in the teachers dorms, so he has his own little apartment with two bedrooms, a balcony, a living room, eating space and kitchen. His fridge is stocked with fruits. His house has cracks in the ceiling and “Don’t listen to what Mom says” written by the door in Korean (the last tenant wrote that apparently). He has a TV but it doesn’t work, and his ‘mattress’ is about an inch thick and as hard as the wood plank it lies on. His parents are in the brush industry. He’s considered a foreign exchange student because he was one last year, and then just decided to come to the school again. He’s the only person I text on my phone, haha. Hope that doesn’t sound ‘stalker-ish’ or whatever, but two hours of nothing in the library gives you a chance to learn random facts about people. Anyhow, I went to his house to hang out with him and some of his other friends, a Korean foriegn-exchange-y boy who’s name I can never remember (I think of him as Klaus from the Baudelaire series because his glasses are the same shape, so that’s just what I call him in my head), a Korean girl who’s name I don’t know, and a Chinese girl named Pei Pei. They were all very nice, and had just returned from a trip to Walmart (that’s where everyone buys their groceries), and decided they were going to make lunch. Lunch ended up being dinner, which were sandwiches and dumplings. The sandwiches….well….
Basically the worst sandwich I ever had. Pei Pei said not to say if I didn’t like it, so I just ate it anyways. You’re probably thinking “sandwiches are good, Miranda was just being a picky eater!” but no, I assure you, this was no normal sandwich. Picture this: three pieces of bread. Mayo and ketchup spread on all of them. A giant undercooked scrambled egg. Just-cooked ham. Cut cucumbers and tomatoes. Corn (which I cut!!) off the cob sprinkled amidst it all.
Really not a good idea. Don’t try it. I mean, it wasn’t HORRIBLE, once I got used to the taste it was okay, but that first bite…wow.
Anyhow, they finished cooking and were going to be late for class, so they literally ran out the door and back to school, leaving the kitchen a complete mess. I mean, I have never seen a kitchen this dirty in my life! Ketchup and mayo everywhere, an unused bowl of corn, a pile of scrambled eggs, dumpling/wontons still on the stove, piles of ham, dirty knives and whatnot…
And Sang Min had just cleaned before they got there.
I helped him clean up the best I could, but mama came to pick me up about fifteen minutes after they left so there wasn’t much I could do. He’s a great friend though, I would be super angry if anyone did that to me, but he was just accepting of it, a sort of “well that’s what they do” attitude.
He gave me a ‘Happy Cow’ (those little things that bob their heads when the sun’s out) just because, and is going to give me Chinese lessons during our extra study time on Fridays. He thinks I’m one of the nicest people he’s ever met (not sure why, he’s beating me by a lot so far). As he teaches me Chinese, I teach him English. It’s a good system.
I texted him “mmk” before I got to his house, and when he saw me he asked “What is M M K ?” I told him it was a combination of “mhm” and “okay”, he was confused a little at first, but then understood. “Oh. Mmkay.” he told me.
Life is good.