#1: What it means to be rich.
#2: How people manage their money.
#3: Beijing’s four seasons.
#4: Chinese students studying abroad in English-speaking countries.
At lunch today, Jelle and I gave vent to some long-festering bitterness about the content of our courses. Seriously, every lesson concerns one of four things, and it’s getting really old. Apparently somewhere along the line, though, it’s getting solidly crammed into our heads, because I think the scathing mockery I let rip, consisting of some of the most nauseating clichéd sentences, was pretty good Chinese.
- What is richness? 对我们老人来说，有身体健康就是富有，孩子们有出息就算是富有。(As far as we old people are concerned, having a healthy body is wealth; children having good prospects is being rich.)
- Finances: 我要挣钱，可是挣不下来。何必要拼命工作，应该让自己过得比较舒服！(I want to save money, but just can’t! Why would you want to work yourself like a slave? You should live comfortably.)
- Beijing’s 4 seasons: 春天第一个消息就是水果上市。。。(The first news of spring is when fruit comes on sale . . .)
- Studying abroad: 我还没适应这里的生活！ 我刚来的时候也是这样，一词英语都说不话来。(I still haven’t adjusted to life here! It was the same for me when I first got here; I couldn’t speak even one word of English!)
XuLei asked us what we would rather learn about. ChengJun, rather predictably, said 谈恋爱 (falling in love), while Jelle and I agreed that current events would be way more interesting. Number of conversations I’ve had about the volcano in Iceland: 4. Number of conversations I’ve had about Beijing’s four seasons: 0. Number of conversations I’ve had about how much money I save: 0.
#5: The 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. If I hear once more about how disappointing the US pavilion is, I’m going to take a picture of me shrugging, photoshop it in front of a picture of the US pavilion, and put it on a t-shirt. Yes, I know it looks like a mall/movie theater/office building, and No, I don’t know what the hell happened. Apparently it was all financed by private companies, which means it’s an important exception to the rule that competition and profit-seeking lead to better products. Ugh. Is it November 1st yet?
#6: How I’m always tired. This afternoon in class I realized that, while I only got 1 out of 10 questions right, I was correct on 100% of the questions that I was awake for. My sleep problems are back – I say this as if they ever left. Since I started college, I would estimate I’ve fallen asleep during at least part of 70% of my classes. The number is higher for boring classes (near 100% for Manufacturing Processes) and bad time slots (like 8 am’s and post-lunch classes), but I was often mortified after dozing off in awesome classes taught by my favorite professors (truly sorry, Drs. Henshaw and Tipton). I manage to do alright, even great in terms of grades, but I can never stop wondering what I could be capable of if I weren’t tired literally every second I’m awake, if I could stay awake through entire 50-minute blocks of time without having to entertain myself with a completely separate task. I know that sometimes it’s the result of me not getting enough sleep, but what other option do I have? The last time I didn’t feel narcoleptic was last summer when I took a road trip through Texas with my mom to visit family. After a week or so of sleeping 12 or 13 hours a night, I finally got to the point where my waking hours were truly completely awake. 12 or 13 hours?? Sigh. 怎么办？
We were asked to be at the church at 5 this evening for rehearsal. Nearly five long hours, but it was generally good. I’m warming up my voice after a long year of neglect, getting better at the Chinese songs, and I even got to play piano a little bit (sharing our version of the Gloria with them). The worst part of rehearsal was
#7: Being told to put on more layers. The woman next to me (who has appointed herself my constant companion) leaned over, used her hand to erect a shield of secrecy, and whispered to me: “Let me tell you something. It gets colder at night and in the morning, so you should wear something over your shirt.” Seriously? Of all the things I have trouble with in China, dressing myself is generally not one of them. Also, this low-temperatures-when-the-sun-goes-down thing happens in the West, too. I know, right?
I went home with two other XiaDa students, both studying French. I asked them to speak some French, and responded with my basic French repertoire (bonjour, oui, merci beacoup, c’est la vie, au revoir, frere jacques, c’est magnifique, tres bien, respondezvous s’il vous plait, que horror, repertoire, etc.). It made me wonder, as a native speaker of English (which is much closer to French than Chinese is) and a product of America (where a little bit of French culture and language is relatively mainstream), how my accent compares to these Chinese girls who have been studying for a few years. Yes, they have formal training, but I have a mouth capable of pronouncing more than one consonant in a row. Maria, if you’re reading this: I expect a verdict upon our return to TU in the fall.
Finally, this made me smile really big.