I just got back from an 8 day trip to Singapore. I'd like to report that I haven't sweat that much, well, ever. For those of you ignorant of the location of Singapore...imagine fire + steam + a few palm trees somewhere near the equator and there you are. Actually, it's very similar to where I lived in Florida. It's just in Florida, you're walking from an airconditioned home to an airconditioned car to an airconditioned work building. It's similar in Singapore except instead of walking a few feet from one place to another, you're walking several blocks. Up and down stairs. And hills. In steamy rain. In dress clothes. And heels. By the time you get to the next airconditioned place, you've already sweat through your clothes, your makeup has melted off and your hair has been not-so-eloquently knotted on top of your head.
Don't even get me started on trying to be a nice, patient, fun-loving teacher when in the middle of bursting into flames.
Enough about sweat...it was a great trip. My students did an excellent job, I was able to buy a bunch of Christmas gifts, I spent some time bonding with my students and the other chaperones, I got to try some new foods, and was able to visit somewhere I'd never been before. Overall, a very successful trip.
But I'm not gonna lie...after being gone 16 of the last 25 days, I couldn't wait to get home. Being gone so much has truly helped me to appreciate what my home, my city, China means to me. Seriously.
I love my bed. I love my routine in the mornings. I love how clean my city is. I love how convenient it is to shop here. I love how easy it is to use public transportation. I love that I can cross the streets anywhere and any way I want to. I love the customer service here. I love how nice the people are. I love that how even though the driving here is CRAZY, it's still got a system and everyone knows how it works even though it's not written down anywhere. I love that there are no rules about cutting people in line. I love that people are so quick to help. I love that we have winter here. I love that my friends miss me when I'm gone. I love that I have wi-fi in my apartment. I love that my bus driver drives like a maniac to get me home quickly. I love that the airlines let me check two bags that are overweight even though the limit is supposed to be only one. I love how inexpensive things are. I love that I know where to find things and how to get places. I love that it's beginning to truly feel like home.
Truth be told, the majority of things that I love about China are those things which feed my impatience and need for rule-bending. Don't want to wait for the crosswalk light? Okay, just play a little game we like to call run-in-a-zig-zag-motion-but-whatever-you-do-don't-stop-until-both-feet-are-on-the-opposite-side's-sidewalk because there's really no rule that says you have to follow lights. They're just suggestions. Too good to follow the baggage rules when traveling? No biggie. Most airlines in China don't follow them anyway, do what you want. Can't stand to wait your turn in line? Eh, just cut in front and get it taken care of. No one will mind because they were getting ready to do it too. This is just how China works. I'm not taking advantage of anything. It's just life here. It's not offensive or wrong, it's life. And I love it. Going to these other countries that are much more westernized remind me of what the rules used to be. And it's hard to re-adjust. Waiting 30 seconds for the light to change so I can cross a street nearly killed me. And waiting in line for the subway, oh man. Seriously?
Note to self: Do not become a self-absorbed, can't-wait-for-anything Chinified diva. Always remmeber how the rest of the world lives.
Anyway, it's exciting that I feel comfortable with referring to China as "home". It's such an amazing place with really unique characteristics that seem to fit me pretty well. Yah, me and China. Two peas in a pod.
Quick funny story. I was in the airport this morning, flying back from Singapore to Qingdao, decided I needed some breakfast and ended up in KFC. Because I'm traveling on the school's expense, I have to get receipts for all my spending. So, I order my food. And then ask for a receipt. The only problem is, my brain wasn't working and I used the wrong words.
Me: "Piao liang." (I don't know how to use sentences yet)
Her: *blink* *blink*
Me: "Piao liang, piao liang" and making the shape of a receipt with my hands
Her: slight smile and nervous glance around
Me: "Piao liang" said a little louder still motioning with my hands
Her: total and complete confusion
At this point I'm thinking, "Seriously? People ask for receipts all the time. What is her problem??"
Then it dawns on me. The word for receipt is "fa piao". "Piao liang" means 'beautiful.' So here I am, practically yelling at her to make sure she can hear me say "BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL" over and over again while making a square with my fingers. I have no doubt she was thinking "dumb American". Anyway, I got the receipt and some embarrassment for breakfast today. Awesome.