Maria Holland

Life On My Tropical Glacier

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2010 at 2:14 am

I spent the majority of today cursing whoever it was who told me that Xiamen is a tropical island.  Your face is a tropical island . . . Tropical island, my butt!  More like glacial island.  Have I made my point clear?  It’s April in Xiamen and it’s cold.  It’s been cool-ish and rainy-ish since I got back from Hong Kong, but today was grab-a-scarf, put-on-another-pair-of-pants cold.  The low was 10°C which, in Fahrenheit, equals COLD: 50!! 

It was a perfect day to spend inside on the couch wrapped up in blankets watching movies and, if it can’t be helped, doing homework.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a couch or blankets, and I had to leave my room much more often than I would have liked.  Fail.

Katrine and Eunice just ‘discovered’ the cafeteria downstairs recently and won’t stop raving about it, so Aleid and I joined them for lunch.  Lunch was pretty good, and got the day started off right with bowl #1 of 汤圆 – score! 

Oral class was interesting for once!  The teacher has decided to not only take attendance (which is a totally new thing this semester) but also to mark students for being late.  It’s not unusual at all for students to come in during the 休息 (break) 45 minutes into class, but maybe this will change now?  My Korean friend complained about it, asking the teacher what she was going to do if we were late too often – call our mothers?  Funny ‘cuz it’s true . . .

I took a nice nap while we went over answers in Listening class, but woke up when she put on a movie.  It was 相声, China’s version of stand-up comedy with two people.  Unfortunately, it was 80% over my head.  I could tell it was funny – they even had the most important element of humor, the combination of a tall thin man with a short fat one – but couldn’t figure out why. 

I was going to get some studying done, but XuLei called to say she was coming over with a package from home.  I quickly agreed, visions of sugar plums and other such treats dancing in my head.  When she got here, we opened the box to see . . . package after package of room-temperature packaged meat.  I know we have this in America – it’s called Spam – but in China meat that is somehow treated so as to sustain long periods of time without refrigeration has been elevated to an artform.  In fact, these vacuum-sealed bags of what in America would be considered waste meat are a “special product” of XuLei’s hometown.  (She’s from Wuhan, Hubei – another reason to love Wuhan, right Mom and Dad?)  She was so excited to get this package of her favorite foods from home, so like the good friend I am, I tried a little of each.  The duck neck and duck clavicle (??) were both not bad, actually, just a little spicier than I usually like my duck extremities. 

While we ate, I decided to ask her about yesterday’s earthquake in Qinghai (western China).  To my surprise, she hadn’t heard about it!  I filled her in as best as I could, and then we turned on CCTV to watch their coverage.  The death toll is at 617, big enough for the NYT to be running several articles a day, but for some reason the Chinese don’t seem to be too aware of it??

Between talking about earthquakes, mining disasters, and devastating plane crashes, I was feeling a little down – it also probably didn’t help that today never got brighter than an average day at dusk.  I wanted nothing more than to continue studying and have dinner delivered to my room, but Aleid had asked me over to make dinner, so out I went.

We grabbed some ingredients at the supermarket then went to her house, where we whipped up a fabulous pasta with pork, eggplant, mushrooms, and pesto sauce. 


I made green beans to go with it, and we had bread and Dutch cheese (always) on the side.  For dessert?  汤圆 of course :)  We had a wonderfully long conversation, lingering over dinner, and I felt much better by the time I went home.

I mean, I know I was supposed to spend today studying, but there were other important things to do as well – foods to try and friends to enjoy.  Anyway, it’s not like I didn’t learn anything today: Soup Nazi = 汤霸.

  1. Maria – your line about “just a little spicier than I usually like my duck extremities” reminded me about my favorite line in the whole world, so I have to repeat it now for you: “…Normally when I have badger, I like it well done. But no, it’s fine — it’s got the hair on it and everything!” I know you wish I was there so you could hear it in the original voice, but this will have to do…

    • haha, of course. I’m glad today didn’t have to pass without hearing/reading “It’s got the hair on it and everything!”

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