Yesterday morning Kristina came over and we continued working on the graphs for her thesis on body image in Chinese and Western females. We’ve done almost all the graphs she wants, and have found some interesting results. One of the most striking graphs details the sources of pressure to be thin; most the items had similar numbers of respondents between the two groups, with one exception. Almost every Westerner felt pressure from the media, but only a few Chinese agreed. Also, I think we managed to prove that a prevalent screening test for eating disorders, the EAT-40, may not be applicable for Chinese females. The EAT-40 consists of 40 questions that are answered on a scale of 1 to 6. The answers are tabulated to get a total score – the higher the score, the more likely that a person has an eating disorder. Basically, there should be a rough correlation between higher numbers on any one question and a higher total score – but for the Chinese respondents, the opposite was actually true for 8 of the 40 questions. I thought it was neat . . .
After such an exciting morning, I passed out for a few hours and then showered and got ready for Liz and my double birthday celebration. The evening started out with dinner at a place we call the Birthday Restaurant (site of Talia and Katrine’s birthday dinners). It was delicious – spicy shrimp, ribs with sticky rice, skillet of beef, curry chicken, cold spicy chicken, ridiculously delicious celery, and about 5 other dishes – and, as is to be expected in China, cheap. The entire meal, with drinks, for 21 people was about $100.
I had tried to spread the word that I didn’t need presents, but apparently failed. I got:
- Jenga (from Kristina and Maja)
- a book described as a mystery featuring velociraptors (from Jelle)
- Dutch treats – not really sure what they are, but they must be good because I was immediately offered 20 kuai for one by the rest of the Dutch (from Diederik)
- Belgian chocolate (from Liz)
- Swedish coffee (from Jimmy)
- Kazakh and Swedish money (from Yerkin and Jimmy)
- A collection of Toblerone (from Aleid)
- A stone ready to cut for a seal (from LiXiang)
- A cross stitch piece (from XuLei)
- A wooden scroll of calligraphy (from DongWei)
- A traditional Chinese bra, pictured below (from LiXiang)
I also got a few birthday cards, including my first ever one in Chinese!!!!!! (Still working on deciphering it.) And so far I’ve received two USB drives with pictures, music, and movies (!), and have been promised one or two more :)
After dinner, we walked to Paradise Bar for drinks, pool, and – most importantly – cake. After Sietze put a tealight on top, we even had birthday candles to blow out!
We polished off two of them pretty quickly, and I think the general feeling was that they were pretty good. It was the best cake I’ve had in seven months for sure. I might even dare say that Mom (and Aunt Mary) would be proud of me if they tasted it. At least it tasted like a birthday!
(Maybe I should explain the importance of this cake. It’s a sour cream chocolate cake with butter cream icing, a recipe handed down from my Aunt Mary and established as a family tradition by my father’s absolute preference for it over all other cakes. We have it for every birthday. We encountered a minor crisis when I moved down south to go to college, but my mom fixed that by mailing me a cake each year. I know, right? Thus, despite the best attempts of the TU mailroom to not deliver this package, I have never lacked this cake on my birthday. With mail to China taking a bit too long for this to be practical, my parents instead brought me the ingredients and left the making up to me.)
Around 11, we moved to The Key. There was an insane amount of people there, which made dancing alternately really fun and feel like being given birth to. The band sang me Happy Birthday twice (but they do this every night). We finished off the last cake with some late-coming friends, and otherwise enjoyed the time until 3.
The only negative note of the entire night was right near the end. I was dancing in front of the stage while XuLei and LiXiang, my Chinese friends, were still back by our table. Liz nudged me and said “Looks like LiXiang has made a new friend”, and I looked over to see her dancing close to the creepy man who’d been bothering every female within range all night. By the time I squeezed my way over, she had managed to push him away, but she was clearly unhappy and kept wiping her mouth with a tissue. I was quite angry at myself for leaving them alone, but honestly I thought they could watch out for each other. I think most American (Western?) females have a strong sense of safety in numbers, especially around drunk men, but it did not seem like this was on their radar at all. When I talked to XuLei about it later, it turned out that she had not noticed anything and had no idea why LiXiang had seemed upset all of a sudden. I need to remember that while they’re older, they are still new to some experiences!
XuLei slept over because of the hassle of getting through curfew control at her dorm. It was already past 3 and we were both incredibly tired, but the immutable law of sleepovers mandated a girl-talk session (Chinese edition). The last time I looked at the time, it was 4:30 . . .