The postcards are in the mail! It may be a while before the next batch, as the post office has been sold out of the pretty XiaDa postcards since I came here, and I feel bad for sending postcards with random Chinese bridges on them. For those of you who get one of those . . . I hope you appreciate the writing on the back :)
Since I was off campus, I decided to grab lunch. I went to a restaurant that I’ve been to a few times, and ordered a staple – 地三鲜. The name is roughly “three fresh things from the earth”, I think, and it consists of potato, eggplant, and hot peppers. It comes with a heap of rice; very delicious.
A woman sat down at my table, I said hi, and a conversation ensued. She’s the owner’s little sister and is visiting from nearby Jiangxi Province (or she moved here from there; not quite sure). It was a very pleasant surprise, as I had figured I would be eating alone. After a while, the table full of men next to me noticed that the foreign woman was speaking Chinese, so they joined in a bit, asking where I was from. This was followed quickly by another question: “Are you looking for a Chinese boyfriend?”; I responded in the negative. He had some interesting opinions on relationships between Chinese and foreigners, namely that “Every American should marry a Chinese.”
Both of my classes this afternoon passed fairly quickly and pleasantly. In Oral class, we had a discussion about the best way to get to the Heavenly Temple, which got rather animated when I facetiously said I would take an airplane. Another person, more practical than me, said that a helicopter would be the best choice. Someone else suggested 骑马 (which our teacher translated as “drive a horse”), which led to the Saudi guys nearly convincing the teacher that they don’t have cars in Saudi Arabia.
I read through listening class, which is seriously a brilliant strategy. It gives me something to look forward to (as I don’t let myself read any other time), provides a pleasant way to pass the time between exercises, and gives me something to do other than listen to the harsh words continually issuing forth from her mouth. Before I knew it, it was 6 o’clock!
After getting out of class, I headed over to the building that I’ve been dancing at for almost two months now. This was my first time going on a Tuesday, though, because the class is finally starting! I registered, paid, got an official looking card, and then class (Latin Basics) started. There were about 15 Chinese girls, a single guy, and the three of us foreigners (me, Karolina, and her Filipino friend Mark). The teacher started by talking at us in Chinese, with Karolina and I catching a few words here and there. Then we started moving our hips, which essentially took up the rest of the class. I think it’s going to be quite fun, not a little bit awkward and challenging for me, and probably a great learning experience (if nothing else, I’m going to learn the words for body parts like hips, shoulders, chest, neck, etc.). Best of all, I may or may not have found someone who knows how to order dancing shoes for my gargantuan feet!
I grabbed takeout and climbed all three flights of stairs to my room before realizing I had forgotten my keys. Backtracking, I ran into a friend (Deni, from Mexico) on the second floor and talked with her while I waited for Leinira to come back and let me in. It was an interesting conversation, especially when we talked about skin color. Isn’t skin color really just an easy way of making judgments that are more than skin deep? (Note: ‘easy’, although not necessarily correct!) Living in Asia, where porcelain-white skin is treasured and vigilantly protected, I have found myself on several occasions trying to explain America’s love of tan, bronze, or ‘sun-kissed’ skin. It’s a viewpoint that I don’t necessarily agree with (especially not to the point of purposefully exposing myself to the sun solely for that reason), but it seems like such a distinctive part of our culture that to deny it would be a form of deception. It’s a weird feeling because most of the time my explanations are a sort of defense or persuasion, but in this case, I just try to explain the mindset and reasoning as best as I understand it.