Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Exhibit A: White Girl

I can officially order a meal at Starbucks and KFC (which has way more options than a normal KFC) without a problem. I'd say that's a pretty grand success right there! I also have learned to navigate the little city that I am in, as well as the mall (as it happens to be right across the street from me). It's a real problem because things here are much cheaper than they are in the States. Also, China is WAY cleaner than America. You want to know the secret as to why? They literally mop the ground outside. Yes, you read that right... outside. Mopping. Multiple times throughout the day. I'm actually incredibly impressed by how immaculate the streets are with them being so flooded with people all day every day. The maintenance workers do a rad job!

Oh! Another fun fact! China doesn't like to waste, specifically in regards to food. Whilst I was eating the chicken with my chopsticks (well, attempting to, anyways), I noticed some things that were a little out of the ordinary to one such as I—there was the comb (mohawk) of the chicken, its liver, and heart, all to be eaten by us humans. Upon noticing these chunks of meat, you could say that I pretty much lost my appetite right then and there. Let's just say I'm never eating there again. I think I'll stick with my 米飯 (mĭfàn or rice), 土豆 (tǔ dòu sī or shredded potato), and 菠肉 (bōluó ròu or pineapple and meat—basically orange chicken). And yes, I have perfected these words so as I can order properly.

The Chinese people absolutely love their herbs. Herbs in water (tea), rice, soup, porridge, chicken, you name it. It definitely adds a lot more flavor to the meal. Ginger and garlic are also common in an assortment of dishes. Not minced either but sliced pieces. These new foods have led me to a smaller appetite, as well as a not-so-happy stomach. It will take some adjusting, that’s for sure. Which is again why I am grateful for Starbucks and KFC (even though the menu is quite a bit different than back home). At least I semi-know what I'm eating. Water is a different story. The tap has bacteria and therefore we cannot drink it straight. It all has to be boiled. Many people now have become accustomed to drinking hot water plain, and often times herbal tea. It was unusual at first and not very refreshing, but it's something that I am adapting to. 
To the natives here, I am referred to as strange. I think I like being called a "peculiar people" a bit more, but I'll take it. A boy called me "rare"; I felt like a peacock. Because of this anomaly (me), everyone wants to document it. No, I do not mean simply one picture. I mean a plethora of pictures with me as the main fixation. For example, I went for a lovely stroll in the park. I took note of an area with people dancing to music.  Upon sitting down on a bench, I instantly was bombarded. Women with their cameras immediately took their places by my side for some selfies. The phones were passed around, just as I was passed from person to person for another picture. Pictures of me alone, with one other, or in a group. Just as long as I was in the picture, they didn't care. They loved it when I threw out my peace sign (finally I've found a place where it is appreciated by others as much as it is by me). Food got passed in my direction; a fan was handed to me; people stood and offered me their seat on the bench; and multiple times I was asked to dance. What was I supposed to do... Say no?! So, I ate the food, took the fan (gratefully, as it was way too hot), sat down, and also danced with the random men. It was definitely a good time. Apart from not understanding a thing that was said, I felt as close to a celebrity as I ever would. I'm nearly to the point where I don't recognize that everyone is staring at me... Most times, I smile, wave, say 你好 (nǐ hǎo or hello), or even pose for the pictures.

I don't only feel this way when I am out and about, but even at work. My colleagues and the parents of the kids are always studying me as though I am an exhibit at the zoo. I am the only foreigner and native English speaker (and pale-faced) at the school where I am teaching, so I get all of the attention. It has its perks sometimes. I don't ever really have to question where I'm at on the totem pole of things. I don't need to worry about stepping on anyone's toes. They pretty much want me to run the show. Which leads me into how it's not so great, as well.

They have me constantly running things and doing everything. It's quite exhausting really, and the school hasn't even officially started yet! Once we do start, I will be teaching music, art, science, global leadership, and virtual PE (Wii Sport). The natives will be teaching Language Arts (English), which I thought was interesting. I won’t be doing any of the teaching English. I do love all of the girls that I work with though! They are so sweet and are teaching me loads of Chinese as I am helping them perfect their English. It's been such a fun time and we're just barely even getting started! Well, bye bye for now! 再 (see you!)