Friday, April 1, 2011


Were you ever that really popular kid in high school who everyone wanted to be friends with?
No?  Well, me neither.

But that's something like what it's like to be a young American in China. It's really strange how popular I suddenly am. Within the Chinese program at the University, I'm nothing special. I'm just one of those lucky kids for whom the language we tend to speak socially (among Westerners at least) is my native tongue. But among Chinese people, I am incredibly popular. I've probably had nearly a dozen job offers already. I was worried I'd have to seek Chinese friends to practice speaking with, but they seek me out. We've had student teachers sitting in on our classes lately (which makes sense because I can't think of any teacher you would be better off emulating than Lin Laoshi) and 2/3 of the students have asked me for my phone number and been really friendly with me. The other girl seemed a bit more shy.

Yesterday, I got a phone call from someone in the foreign students office, which is in my building, asking if I could come and talk to him. When I went down he told me that he'd been contacted by a Qingdao University chemistry professor who was interested in having an American student come and do a home stay with her family. My name had been brought up specifically because my Chinese is decent. I said that I'd definitely be interested in at least discussing it, so he gave my number to the woman. I'm going to meet her next week to see if the situation is 合适, suitable, and talk about how often I would want to stay with them.

Before coming to China, part of me always lamented that I hadn't been born in the country whose language and culture I adore. Now, I'm really starting to appreciate how lucky I am to have been born American. As an unqualified English teacher, I'm able to make a better living than 90% of Chinese people. While I don't think that is a particularly good thing, it means that I have a fantastic opportunity to do the things I love in the country that I love without having to struggle to support myself.

I'm really coming to appreciate how lucky I am.

In other news, this weekend is our first holiday weekend. We get Monday and Tuesday off for 清明节 (pinyin: qing1ming2jie2). It literally means "pure brightness festival," and is sometimes called "tomb sweeping day." It is a day for remembering and honoring one's ancestors.

Qingming Festival Wikipedia Page

I'll be staying in Qingdao for the weekend to explore the city a bit. Tomorrow, we are going on a school sponsored trip to nearby Mount Lao (in Chinese 崂山). It is a sacred mountain of Daoism and is around an hour's drive from the university.

That's all for now, folks. I do apologize if my English is turning into rubbish. Twenty hours of Chinese class per week in addition to extensive communication in Chinese outside of class is have some negative effects on my ability to speak my native language. This fact is particularly troublesome since I'm being paid to teach English...

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