It was supposed to be ridiculously warm after I got back from Shanghai (well up in the 70’s), but instead we’re having a cold – and wet – front.
People are starting to talk about the holidays and make plans. We don’t technically have any vacation for Christmas or New Year’s, but we foreigners are getting to be very adept at creating our own vacations. Some of my friends are flying to Shanghai or Hong Kong – doesn’t that sound luxurious, a destination New Year’s?
I’m planning on staying in Xiamen for the holidays, but the travels I have coming up are making it feel like winter break already. I just got back from the better part of a week in Shanghai, but that’s not all by any means. The school has organized a trip to see the traditional Hakka earth houses a few hours north of Xiamen on Saturday, and then Aleid and I are leaving Tuesday night for a few days at Wuyi Shan, a famous mountain in our province.
Traveling and skipping class – which is almost like having a real vacation – makes me feel better about still being 4 weeks away from the end of the semester. It’s not that I mind still having class (obviously, because I tend to view class times as more of a suggestion). It’s just that the end of the semester is my favorite time of the year at the University of Tulsa, and I’m feeling kind of jealous. I love the wrap-up of classes, the myriad possibilities of Dead Days, the challenge of finals, and the total freedom that follows . . .
So, I’m doing what I can, and actually the teachers are helping out. My grammar teacher cancelled class all next week for a meeting in Beijing and our Oral and Listening teachers obliged by moving their classes up to Monday and Tuesday, leaving us with a 5-day weekend just begging to spend in some special way. For some other reason, our teachers moved our Friday classes to other days, so we get a 3-day weekend this weekend, too!
There’s just a magical feeling in the air, too. For instance, last night I successfully danced the Viennese Waltz. It’s so fast and I usually just step on my partner’s toes, but finally everything just fell into place and we were gliding and twirling along the floor. It was magical.
And there are the presents. Like the board game cafe that Alice introduced me to last night (!!!!!) or the special new episode of Teen Girl Squad (Four Gregs).
Or the actual present that I got – a package from home! I got the slip today and immediately set off for the post office. I stupidly didn’t have my passport with me so I had to go home and come back with it, which was frustrating. I should have known better, but the security offered by the passport requirement was minimal: The postal clerk asked me to write down my name and passport number, and then checked that against the passport I handed her. Seriously?
But the two trips across campus, the rain and cold, and the inherent 麻烦 of China was all worth it. It’s a package from home! The two candy bars are already gone – I gave one away and shared the other with Leinira – but thereare lots of goods to be savored in the time ahead. There are ingredients for snickerdoodles and chocolate-chip cookies (which will probably be cooked 4-at-a-time in our tiny tiny oven); a box of Kraft macaroni-and-cheese in all of its artificially-cheesy goodness; an entire beefstick for traditional Army-Navy game and Christmas Eve snacking.
And I can’t forget the Christmas tree!
Yes, it certainly feels a lot like Christmas, and my room is starting to look like it too.