Maria Holland

I Have Some Good News and Some Bad News

In Uncategorized on November 4, 2009 at 10:43 pm

The good news first:

I had my first test of the school year – Chinese grammar – this morning and I think it went well. 

Afterwards, I went to Carrefour, the big French supermarket in Xiamen, for the first time.  I bought a baguette and a block of Land O Lakes mozarella, which tastes like actual cheese (at least as much as I can remember; it has been over two months). 

The bad news:

Everything else.  I am not in a good mood today – probably the worst, in fact, since I came to China.  I am struggling with some issues and everything is bothering me. 

There are some little things, like how the entire purpose of my Carrefour run was to replenish my peanut butter supply, but I forgot to actually buy peanut butter.  Or how I somehow got on a drastically wrong bus and spent over two hours getting home from Carrefour (meanwhile traveling further west on the island than I had been previously, almost all the way to the coast).  This route cost me an extra yuan but even more frustratingly, cost me my pride as I was twice left standing on a bus that had reached its final destination without me realizing it.

But more so, I’m struggling internally with some decisions, and they’re weighing heavily on me – probably more than they should.  They’re in all parts of my life – academic, spiritual, social,  – which is really burdensome. 

Academically: I’m trying to decide if I want to change classes next week after this midterm.  My classes are too easy and with just a little bit of work and a [hopefully] short period of adjustment, I could move to something a little more challenging.  There are so many things to consider, though . . . I like my current teachers, schedule, and classmates, and am afraid to end up worse off in those areas.  I’m also afraid of losing my free time, which has enabled me to do some things that I’ve wanted.  At the same time, though, I didn’t come here to study dancing.  Also, I have historically always done worse when I feel like I’m not being challenged, and I can feel that apathy setting in in my school work.  Anyway, even if I decide to switch classes, I have to decide if I want to change to another 一年下 (1st year, 2nd semester) class or go all the way to 二年上 (2nd year, 1st semester).  I think I’m going to talk to my teacher and bring up the possibility on Friday after getting the results of today’s test.

Spiritually: I’m planning a trip with some friends to another part of Fujian this weekend.  I’m really excited about getting out and exploring my province, but there’s a problem: Mass.  I’m Catholic, and we’re supposed to attend Mass every Sunday.  In America (and many parts of the world), it’s pretty much possible to get to a Catholic church no matter where you are, but I’m afraid it’s not the same in China.  In Tulsa, we’re especially luckier because we have an 8 pm Sunday Mass, which means you can go away for the weekend, come back late, and still celebrate with your community.  Not so in Xiamen; our last Mass is at 10 am on Sunday.  In America it’s possible to fit Mass in around your weekend; in China you have to fit your weekend in around Mass.  Anyway, I’m not sure if I will be able to make it to Mass wherever I am in Fujian, and so I’m struggling with the decision to go on this trip.  I love being Catholic and don’t look at it as a set of rules that you have to follow, so the prospect of missing Mass doesn’t just bother me because it’s something that I have to do, but also because it’s something that I want to do.  Luckily, I have several wonderful priests back home who responded to my question and encouraged me to take the opportunity, while remembering to spend some time in prayer on Sunday.  I feel more resolved, but I guess I’m still not happy about it. 

Socially: I am ready to give up on Chinese men.  I don’t mean that I’m going to cease my search for a Chinese boyfriend; I never started one, anyway.  No, I’m getting to the point where I don’t want to talk to any Chinese man under 60.  This is bothering me in and of itself, because at home I have a lot of guy friends and many of them are very important to me.  I’m an engineering student, for goodness’ sake – I get along with guys.  If it weren’t for a couple foreign guys, I would feel really lacking in an important kind of friendship.  It’s also bothering me that I can’t understand, much less explain, why.  I know parts of it, but all my reasons contain exceptions and contradictions.  I know that I have a hard time trusting people when our entire relationship started online – all those warnings about internet safety back when AIM and MySpace started paid off, thanks guys!  I’ve figured out that, when it comes to my gut feeling, Chinese and English Corner – random gatherings of anyone who wants to learn said languages – is only a small small step up from online.  I know that American notions of proper interactions between 20-year-old females and 30-year-old men and teachers governs my reactions towards those people.  I know that persistence in men I don’t know comes off, at best, as pushy.  I know that in America I’ve never really attracted unwanted attention, so I’ve never had to deal with it before. 

I need to figure this out, or it could really bring me down.  I’m thinking about talking to some of my female Chinese friends to ask them what they think about some of the interactions that have bothered me.  Also, I think that guys that are introduced to me through mutual friends are generally exempt from my irrational distrust, so I might try to meet the friends or boyfriends of my female friends. 


And then, on top of all this, my American radio station is starting to use the world “holidays”, allude to the “shopping season”, and play vaguely Christmas-y music in the background of commercials.  I am strictly against Christmas until Advent, and believe that 24-hour-a-day music should be saved until the week before, so I guess it’s time to turn off the radio.  If it’s not one thing, it’s another . . .

  1. Sounds like a rough day….sleep on it…sleep on everything…and then see what tomorrow brings. If I may presume, I think the Lord will be pleased w/your efforts to know His Word in Chinese and happy you are keeping Him so close in China. As for the Chinese men and the class choice things….those will work out as you mull them over and consider your options. Praying for you (in English)….love ya, A. Claire

  2. Ok, so I was absolutely NOT going to comment on this post because I just posted on the newest one, but it was just too applicable. I would never presume to know your situation or give advice, but with every post I feel like we are in the same situation. Academically: ok, maybe we’re not in the same situation here… Actually learning Russian is about priority 3 here, so I’d say the easier class with more free time to interact with folks is the best way for me. That being said, I’ve always found that the more difficult class has always shunted me both into the better learning situations and also better grades. Catch 22 sans the catch I guess (If this makes no sense, no worries. It barely makes sense to me as well). Spiritually: I’m Catholic as well and in a country that just outlawed all missionaries unless they’re Russian Orthodox. If you want to go to Mass on Sunday, this is a huge barrier to ANY sort of travel. The best advice I’ve gotten is to just smile and be happy wherever you go. Maybe you don’t make it to Mass on Sunday, but you’ve spread a little bit of love and happiness wherever you’ve gone. What more can God ask for? Socially: Perhaps you should talk to the American girls here in Voronezh who are ready to give up on every creepy, super persistent Russian male under the age of 60. I’m not sure what to say about this except that you aren’t alone… Chalk it up to an interesting cultural experience and try to meet those guys that your Chinese girlfriend’s recommend to you? This is out of my league!!! Good luck!!!

    • Thanks for your thoughts. We’re definitely having some similar experiences and we gotta stick together! I will keep your advice in mind this weekend on my trip and as I try to figure out what to do about my classes.

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