This morning in class, we learned a pressure point to deal with constipation. Man, the word for “bowel movement” (大便) sure is coming in handy!
We also got our thermometers. Swine flu pretty much has no chance anymore.
When I went out this evening, I was preparing myself for another dinner by myself, which can really get old. Because I want to be making Chinese friends, I am somewhat purposefully avoiding hanging out with foreigners too much, but sometimes this just means I do stuff by myself. I think I need to be more outgoing, though, in my search for Chinese friends. Although I know that I’m going to stick out as a foreigner no matter what I do – and sometimes I’m even able to internalize that knowledge and act accordingly – I still shy away from doing things that I’m afraid might be a little bit 奇怪 (strange). I think I might start giving myself challenges to force myself to interact more – like a daily quota of conversations with Chinese people, a daily goal of a certain number of new words, or even maybe eating in the student cafeteria every day for a week and sitting with students. Anyone have a challenge for me?? I will say, though, that this journal is already a push in the right direction. I don’t want it to be boring, so I find myself trying to get out and do more every day so that I have things to write about.
Anyway, as I was walking towards the West Gate, I heard the noise of singing, clapping, and laughter. I headed towards the lake, which seemed to be the source, and came up several large groups of students spread out across the pavilion/amphitheatre place. A few other students were sitting around and watching, so I went up to one and asked him what was going on (making a new Chinese friend!). I didn’t catch all of what he said, but apparently they were new classes of graduate students in different departments and were playing get-to-know-you games. I recognized most of what was going on – the Human Knot, for instance – but there was also a lot of pushups and spontaneous singing of 两只老虎 (China’s version of Frere Jacques), which seemed pretty random to me. The funniest thing was watching them sit back-to-back, lock their arms together, and stand up, because for Chinese people, who spend half of their lives squatting, this was ludicrously easy.
After the activity wound down, I continued on previously-planned journey. I did end up eating alone, but the waitress in the Sichuan restaurant that I went to was very friendly, so it was okay. To raise my spirits a little bit, I decided to try something new – getting my hair washed. In America, my favorite part of a haircut is having it washed by someone else, but here it’s an entire industry unto itself. There are probably 10 hair-washing shops within a few blocks of campus, so I just picked one and went in.
I was directed up the stairs to a dark room filled with massage tables with attached sinks. It would have been sketchy if there hadn’t been so many people up there, but instead it was just comfortable. I laid down and my hair-washer started doing his thing. He washed and conditioned my hair; massaged my scalp, neck, and temples; cleaned my ears out (very thoroughly!) with a Q-tip; massaged my arms and hands; and massaged my back and neck. Then I was sent downstairs, where someone else blow-dried my hair. All in all, it took about an hour and cost me exactly 20 yuan ($3). AMAZING.
I just asked my Taiwanese language buddy how to say “Can you act that out for me?”: 可以比给我看吗? I think this will come in very handy when trying to communicate and learn new words. For instance, as I was getting my hair blow-dried, they kept asking me if I wanted other things done. When I didn’t understand, they would bring over one of the employees who spoke a bit of English. She was pretty effective at communicating, but not necessarily with English – for instance, one time she lifted a chunk of my hair, wrapped it around her finger, and looked at me questioningly. I immediately understood – no, I didn’t want my hair curled. Learning a language sure does give you an appreciate for the art of pantomiming . . .