I decided to take another look at my financial records now that I’m around the two-month mark. I figured out that (without taking into account my vacation in Taiwan), I have spent an average of $5 on food every day. This includes very nearly everything I eat (and drink!), as there are no meals at home, free lunches around campus, or meal plans in the dining hall. Also, almost half of the money I’ve spent on “communication” has been spent on postcards and stamps, which are [relatively] very expensive. It costs 60 cents to mail a postcard to America, which seems exorbitant when you realize that I only spend $1 a week on my cell phone and about the same on internet.
I’m pretty sure it’s also about time for an update on the weather here. The days are generally gorgeous, somewhere in the 80’s, and no longer as horrifically humid as August was. There was a very happy occasion a few weeks ago, when I actually had to put lotion on my face because I could feel that it was dry; August and most of September were so humid that over a month passed before I even unpacked my face lotion. It cools down a bit once the sun sets, getting down to the mid 60’s. Another big milestone for me was wearing a jacket to dance class last night! I had been bringing scarves to class because of the air conditioner, but it was my first time wearing a long-sleeved clothing item outside!
My two-month post made me think a lot about everyone at home, so I got out my photo albums. Surprisingly, this was the first time I had looked at them since coming, and it was great to see so many familiar faces and recall all those wonderful memories! I shared them with Leinira, to show her my home and family and friends. While looking through, she pointed to everyone who looked different, mainly the couple black friends I had pictures of, and asked where they were from. (They were all Americans.) After a few times, I pointed out the only picture I had of a non-US-citizen, my Venezuelan friend. It just reinforced my idea concerning the relative abundance and scarcity of people who look different in America and Asia (respectively), regardless of the proportion of foreigners.
I’ve also realized, in the two days since the two-month mark, how many things I’ve become accustomed to here. The 3 flights of stairs to my room don’t bother me anymore, and the walk to West Gate or Nanputuo is usually pleasant instead of burdensome. I don’t drink with meals anymore. (Both of those probably have something to do with the fact that the weather is no longer infernally hot, but it’s still a change.) I like milk tea, tapioca bubbles, eggplant, baicai and baocai (Chinese cabbage), baozi (stuffed rice balls?), and Chinese ‘soup’ (basically hot water with some diced green onions tossed in) – none of which I liked before coming. Refrigerated water is good enough for me now, although I still don’t enjoy drinking it room temp.
Oh, and I got a reply from Deacon Joseph – I can’t go on the pilgrimage because I’m a foreigner and it would be 麻烦 – a hassle. Welcome to my life . . .
This afternoon, I went on an adventure to SM. It’s a huge shopping center and I had heard people talk about it for two months, so I decided it was time to check it out. It wasn’t too notable in my opinion, except for the exceptionally long time it took to get there. I ate at another 西北 (Xinjiang) restaurant while I was in that part of town, and it was a weird experience. The family that ran it stared at me the entire time I was in there. I have been told that I look like a Xinjiangren so maybe they were trying to figure out why I looked like them but didn’t act like them? I don’t know. I definitely think the Xinjiangren look different from Han Chinese (one woman looked at me with piercing blue eyes), but just don’t see myself in them, or them in me.
This evening I went dancing (fo shobviously). I had a wonderful time dancing and felt like I learned and improved a lot. It helps that I’m starting to understand what they’re saying, so I don’t have to just rely on following their movements. They went late today, dancing past 10:15, and then I asked to take some pictures.
I wanted to show off my new dancing shoes, so Lester (my Filipino dancing friend) and I started to strike some poses.
By this time, the men had all left, so it was just us and 5 or so women. They started critiquing us, giving us advice, suggesting poses, moving our arms/legs/feet/necks/torsos into position, etc.
It was fun. And now you all know what I look like when I dance!
After our ‘photo shoot’, we talked for a while outside and didn’t end up leaving until almost 11. I still can’t believe that older people do this in China! (Incidentally, I found out today that one of the men is 80. So yes, I actually mean old!)