After a 16 hour and uncomfortable trainride, our small group of six students and one teacher arrived in Changsha, China. Since I feel that I should tell you who’s who, I will make a small list:
Midori – 17 – F – Japanese
Mortiz – 16 – M – German
Pauline – 17 – F – Swiss
Gulia – 16 – F – Italian
May – 15 – F – Thai
and then me, of course(:
The train provided beds for us but no real seats, so we were lying down for most of the trip because sitting up was awkward and uncomfortable. The pillow was itchy): and the food was so bad that the locals were throwing it out. We all got a nice chance to talk, though. When we arrived I was shocked, because Changsha was even more hot and more humid than Beijing had been. Much dirtier, also. Drenched in sweat within the first five minutes, we trudged through the packed train station, finding a van that would take us all out to breakfast. As we drove, the city got nicer and cleaner. Breakfast was noodles, then we went to the local police station to “get registered” (whatever that means), which took about two hours, which was ridiculous. I taught Midori some English. She is really funny, she was reading my “i ❤ boobies (keep a breast)" bracelet, and she didn't understand. I told her the money from buying the bracelet went to try to find a cure for breast cancer, and she asked what that was. I tried to explain cancer, "it grows in you and sometimes you die from it" and then she didn't know what "die" means, so I had to explain that (which is actually pretty hard). Finally, after "OH! DIE! I KNOW!" we used her translator to look up the word 'cancer'. Of course, the correct definition came up, along with 'crab' because of the zodiac, which confused her a lot. "Crab? What? Is crab?" after THAT was sorted out, "what is boobies? what is breast?" came up, and I told her boobies is slang so she looked up breast, which made her giggle. "What? *giggle giggle* what?"
I don't think she understood in the end. Oh well. It was pretty hilarious.
After the long wait, we drove to Tongshenghu, our school. And let me tell you, that is one giant school. It's part of a resort? or something like that. We were then (without much notice as to what would happen) escorted upstairs into a room followed by a camera from the school's tv station. Everyone else was dressed pretty formal, and the six of us were all sweaty and wearing travel clothes. There were perfectly cut and arranged fruit, which no one touched…but there was a LOT of fruit. The bananas were mini-bananas, about the length of my pointer finger. And the grapes were about two times the size of normal grapes. Anyhow, we then were introduced (sort of) to the school officials and what not, and given a long speech which was well written. Among the 'most basic school rules' was "you are not allowed to fall in love", which I found…weird. I understand 'no dating', but you can't really outlaw falling in love… it doesn't really work that way.
Anyhow, after the formal things, I met my family and we took pictures etc then went out to lunch. Some of my initial impressions: the mom has a Loius Vuitton purse and nice shoes, they are all nicely dressed, and they have a big Toyota that is very clean and new-smelling. We drive to visit their second house, which is very close to my school, that they don't live in. It's…beautiful. Perfectly decorated, very neat, very nice. I keep myself calm, because obviously they're well-off. All the floors are hardwood. Nice backyard, too.
I'm quickly escorted out of this house, (I'm not sure why we went there, but that's okay) and we drive to lunch. It's a very nice place at the resort, very beautiful. We sat at the window, which is right on the river that's next to my school. When asked what my favorite food was, I replied Won Ton Soup, or Wuntuntang, which nobody had ever heard of. So I trusted their judgement, which was smart. We got a really good chicken soup, some beef, rice, a veggie of some sort that I disliked, and this reallllllly sweet thing that tasted like a marshmallow but wasn't. I'd have to say, the best part of the experience wasn't the food, surprisingly. As we were sitting waiting to be served, I started listening to the music playing in the background–
Which I found hilarious. I asked my host sister Sabrina if she knew the song, and she said no.
Very funny to me.
Also, in the car ride to their actual house, Shushu's (what I call my host father, it means uncle) phone rang. His ringtone was some song in English with a woman singing "I'm yearning for your touch, oh I just can't get enough". I wonder if he knows what she's saying…? He's been learning English on his own apparently for quite some time but isn't very good. Hmm.
In regards to what I'll be doing at school and when, here's what I found out:
School starts August 30th for me, and I have registration on the 28th. During the school day, from 9-11:20 I'll have three Chinese classes. From 11:20-14:30 I have Lunch/rest/self-study, and then I have optional classes from 14:30-17:30. I wasn't planning on taking optional courses initially, but since I want to get credits for school it looks like I'm going to have to. Sometime within August 31 and September 3 we're all getting interviewed by the school TV station. No idea whether in English or Chinese…I'll have to find that out soon.
I won't share the entire semester plan with you, because that would be pretty boring, but it looks like I have school on Christmas Winter break here is from January 13th-February 14th, which would be cool if I were here for most of it oh well. It seems like it won't be too hard to do well, but we'll have to wait and see.