Maria Holland

Dancing With Old (and Older) Chinese Men

In Uncategorized on September 24, 2009 at 12:21 am

Today’s been a pretty normal day. I had class this morning and spent two hours this afternoon trying to buy our tickets to Taiwan. It turned out that the site we found last night only sold paper tickets for some reason, and they could only be mailed to the US or Canada . . . so, I’m hoping that works out before too long.

In addition to figuring out what we’re going to be doing in Taiwan, I’m also trying to understand what’s going to be going on at XiaDa these next two weeks. As I mentioned, October 1st is the anniversary of the founding of the PRC, which is kind of a big deal in the PRC. They give everyone a week off, but that comes with some major conditions. They’re actually giving us 6 weekdays off, BUT we have to come in for two days on the weekend. So this week is normal M-F, but next week is Sunday to Wednesday, followed by a vacation from Thursday to Thursday. There are two random days of class on Friday and Saturday, which I plan on skipping, and then the normal schedule resumes on Monday, October 12th. This is such a foreign idea to me . . . Weekends are so special in America, I could never imagine having class!

It causes some really interesting issues. For instance, I will be having the first 1-day weekend of my life (at least from school). We want to go back to The Key, which means we have to go Friday night. I also HAVE to go to Chinese Mass on Saturday night this week, because I will be in class on Sunday morning.

Leinira is a graduate student in Biochemistry and spends all her time in the lab. I mean "all her time" almost literally, as she is there from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Monday through Saturday. As if this weren’t enough, she only gets three days off for this upcoming vacation. But as willing as Chinese students and professors are to give up their weekends and vacations, they can’t live without their 休息 (rest). She gets a several-hour lunch break every day, more than enough time to eat and take the almost-mandatory after-lunch nap.

This evening I went dancing again. There were a lot of people, and I danced with some men who hadn’t been there before. One of them was an old, white-haired man, and he was tiny – he didn’t even reach my shoulder. It had a little bit of a hard time dancing with him because he couldn’t raise his arm high enough for me to realize I was supposed to spin underneath. (I commented on this later to Karolina, but it’s quite hard talking about the dancers because we don’t know many of their names. Karolina tries to refer to them as "the older man" and things like that, but that’s about as effective as saying "the Chinese woman". We do, however, have "Karolina’s teacher", "Maria’s Teacher", "Short Skirt Lady", "Bus Lady", "Woman Who Always Dances With Other Women", "The Professional", "The Professor", "The Man With the Amazing Hands", "The Cranky One", and our favorite – "The Couple", which includes "Military Man" and "Shoe Lady".)

In addition to dancing, I also enjoy the walk back with Karolina. Today we talked about how we’re looking forward to the dancing class that is supposedly starting after the break. It’s put on my the student dancing association and we’re assuming some Chinese boys will be participating, which is sure to be delightfully awkward. It’s also a good opportunity for us to vent about how we 还没有 (still don’t have) our e-cards and update each other on the lengths we’ve gone to get them.

I think I’m going to share a few more Chinese words with you tonight before going to bed. These are a little bit more random than last time, but these are words that I think make more sense in Chinese:

  • Computer is actually just one I forgot to include last time. Literally – "electric brain" (电脑). Kind of creepy, but I like it.
  • A traffic light is a "red green light" (红绿灯) because in China they don’t have yellow lights.
  • Air conditioning is "air adjustment" (空调). If you think about it, the English is almost the same, but in America it is basically synonymous with cooling, whereas here, as far as I can tell, it refers to any kind of adjustment – both heating and cooling.
  • A cabin is a "small wood house" (小木屋), which is very easy to remember.
  • Civil engineering is "dirt and wood engineering" (土木工程). Hahaha. But mechanical engineering is "machine tool engineering", and petroleum is “rock oil engineering".
  • Kindergarten was obviously translated literally from the German, to "small child park" (幼儿园). It’s just funny because we just left the word in German, so I never really thought about it much until I learned the Chinese word.
  • A pharmacy is a "medicine store" (药店) which just makes me feel sorry for all those foreigners who have to learn such a hard word like ‘pharmacy’.
  • A highway is a "high speed public road" (高速公路) which I think pretty much sums that up. The English seems a little misleading by comparison, as not all highways are raised.

Ah, the simple pleasure of understanding Chinese for once.

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