Back into the swing of things
The end of 2017 was a rollercoaster of emotions, and a whole lot of Kim Kardashian style crying, what with being bed bound with an unidentified illness. I’ve therefore decided to get back into the swing of things and embrace the age-old cliché, 新年新起想. For non-Chinese speakers, (myself included), that translates to ‘New Year, new me”.
A Slight Accident..
Ready to embrace my new, less awkward self, who would, desirably no longer find herself in stupid situations, I invited my colleagues round for some drinks before heading out on the last day of the working week. Finally cleared of all medication, it would be rude not to drink! Because I live a little distance from work, I offered my friend a lift on my ebike, and we headed off during rush hour. Despite being a pretty good driver, (even if I say so myself), it was not my lucky day, and I drove straight into a car at 25 miles an hour, tumbling over and throwing us both to the floor. I had spotted the car too late as it pulled out of nowhere, and couldn’t turn left or right as it was rush hour, and I’d have been more likely to skid and fall under another car should I have risked swerving. Hands desperately clutching at both breaks, we flew to the ground. Thankfully, we both survived unscathed, albeit for a couple of scratches and bruises. Frantically standing up, I panicked. Although I was the innocent one here, I would be liable for 80% of the damage, as the most obvious party to blame (as is standard of Chinese traffic laws). The driver refused to get out of his car, thankfully, so we jumped back on and hastily sped away, with most the front of my bike no longer attached. By some miracle, none of the alcohol we had collected after work and packed into our bags had broken during the mess, so arriving, with the rest of our colleagues who had witnessed the mess, we fashioned up some strong drinks, and started our night. – interestingly enough, my friend had been drinking a beer on the back on my bike during the incident, which also survived unscathed. Luck was on our side.
A Trip to Gushan
A little more shaken than I’d realised, by midnight, and plied to the brim with alcohol, I was no longer in the mood to drink and dance with friends. Being my first night out in over 5 weeks though, I was unwilling to return home so early. I contacted a Chinese friend who was also keen to do something but hadn’t gone out, and the two of us travelled to Gushan, a beautiful mountain a little way out of Fuzhou. Hiking up the steep mountain in the darkness, the beautiful view I’d been meaning to visit since I had arrived lifted my spirits and redeemed the day. The events have also since reinstalled a sense of awareness when driving, as I had admittedly become complacent and less bothered about my surroundings.
‘I feel like a proud parent!’
Work has been going from strength to strength, with my love of my students growing daily. Because I belong to a new school that’s still establishing itself, I am lucky enough to only have ‘kinders’ – students aged between 3 and 6 years old. These little children often don’t have English names yet, so their parents request we give them one that they can respond too. I feel like a proud parent, and have named many of my children after loved family members and close friends. One student I even had the pleasure of giving a variation of my own name to, without her knowledge. I’ve also been preparing to open my nursery class for students that have just turned 3, but are too young/unaware to be in a kinder class. This included teaching them how to hold pens, which for anyone who has never had the opportunity to do, I can’t express with words how fulfilling it is, and how broody I have since become!!!!!
Introducing Nicki Minaj…
Work has become a daily delight, and I’m very pleased with the school I’ve been placed at, and the colleagues I share my role with. Running an English corner in my spare hours for the Chinese staff, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the less serious side of my colleagues that is hidden away during class. Having prepared actual class work and vocabulary / grammar structures, they openly admitted that whilst they wished to improve their English, they could research that information themselves, and they wanted vocabulary they wouldn’t be able to learn to say with ease online.
After showing them the music video of “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj, and going through the alphabet, teaching one word of vocabulary for every letter (which can take a surprisingly long time when you’re trying to stifle laughter every minute because of the nature of the vocabulary), the class had finished. Saying goodbye to everyone, one of the girls told me she couldn’t wait for my next class and had greatly enjoyed it. It’s the small victories that really make working here worth it, and that left me smiling for the rest of the day.
Equally with the good, comes the downright bizarre though. I willingly accepted that there would be language barriers and mis-communications when I decided to sign my contract to another country. In retrospect, I didn’t know just how inexplicable they could be. Most memorably this week, was ‘poo-gate’.
My school provides an admin for every apartment, as a point of contact if we have any problems. My flat mate had apparently called him regarding our flooding washing machine, and he had been round to fix it without telling anyone. Sounds harmless, right? After work, I had gone straight to drinks with some friends, and during the evening, he had come to join us, chatting away with no reference to having been round earlier. As we went to leave, my colleague mentioned that he had seemed a little awkward, but she couldn’t put her finger on why.
Arriving home to my flat, I entered my bathroom, and suddenly everything made sense. Right in front of me, on my floor, was a poo.
Fresh and most definitely human, it hadn’t been there when I’d left for work in the morning.
After ruling out my flatmate, who, in all fairness, is just as likely to have left it there, I contacted him to enquire 1. Why it was there and 2. Why he hadn’t felt the need to mention it, in the three hours we were sat opposite each other.
With little real justification for the incident, he offered to return the next day and clean it up, but by this point, I had cleaned it myself and decided it best he not return. I’m still laughing to myself as I record this event. But China wouldn’t be nearly as fun without the strange and mysterious scenarios I find myself in.
Last week I also enjoyed seeing Star Wars, in the only showing in my entire city that happened to be dubbed over in Chinese, without any English subtitles. Every colleague I know has seen it in English, but naturally, my friend and I were to book the wrong viewing. Fortunately, as we had decided to watch it after I finished work, we were the only people in the showing as it was so late. This allowed me to repeatedly lean over and ask for translations to the more difficult parts of the film, much to my companion’s irritation. Perhaps it was the language barrier, and watching Yoda do his thing in Chinese rather than English, but I was quite the fan. I know that most people I’ve spoken to weren’t so keen, but all I can suggest is perhaps you should watch the Chinese version, as I had a blast.
Time is starting to fly by here, so as much as I struggle to recall every hilarious and enjoyable moment, I’m still persistently trying to record short and sweet anecdotes to give a little insight into uprooting here.
As someone who lives in coffee shops and spends a large amount of time living in my HSK book trying frantically to learn Chinese, it’s easy to forget just how much fun I’m having, but I hope these blogs will act to remind both me and anyone else who is kind enough to read these to enjoy the little things.