Published: May 12th 2011May 12th 2011
It’s been three months. Three huge months immersing myself in Chinese culture- and yes; it really has been immersing. I've taken the time this week to reflect on some of the things I've learnt and of some of the things I'll miss and also the things that have made me even change my usual habits.
For example, although I don't think I could even bring myself to spit in the streets, however I've noticed that I now spit out the bones from meat that I eat onto the dinner table like everyone else. :) Also I learned many new words and phrases that I don't think I ever could've learnt in a classroom. From 你干什么呀？ To 妈妈；我想尿尿！！ It’s been a real learning experience.
I'll never forget the putrid smell that was on the street near the supermarket while I walk to Chinese class and the cheeky smiles from the workers as they watch the foreigner walk by.
It really strikes me as a charming and incredible part of China when you look into someone’s eyes and no matter where you're from or who they are; they will greet you with a smile and a sparkle in their eye.
I remember WaiPo- the way she would laugh at everything and I wondered if her aging cheeks would hurt at the end of the day from grinning so much and adorning her grandchild. All the while, Grandpa sits on the sofa with his singlet shirt giving his best grin between his crocked silver teeth. I really think the Laoren, the old people of China- are a great and unique community of people here. They can be full time nannies and cooks but they can also hang out on the streets and dance or play MaZhong. Oh and how proud are they of their country! And rightly so; I'll remember how much excitement and enthusiasm Yeye expressed when he gleefully explained to me in Chinese the famous stories of the Monkey King on the television and beautiful scenic areas in China such as Huangshan. He gave me such an insight into those ancient Chinese stories, and a perspective I really would never read about in a textbook or guidebook. And of course how passionate Cai Laoshi was when he was explaining and illustrating his beautiful calligraphy.
And then there's the children. Children are absolutely adored in China and I suppose
san lou- third level :)
that’s logical given the stringent one child policy. At first; it was frustrating for me because I was so used to dealing with children in Australia in terms of discipline and creating activities- but here these things are so different. In terms of activities; whatever the child wants to do; they do it. There's no such thing as suggestions or creating activities. In terms of discipline, children don't really receive discipline in China as they would in the West. Because the child is so independent, they ch0ose how they want to deal with things, it’s not oh; I'm going to tell on you! And then it’s the adult’s responsibility. But here, kids pretty much do whatever they want, and things that I would usually pull kids up on in Australia, I just had to restrain myself here and China.
Of course; I'll never forget playing endless games with the younger girl and laughing about Oreo ads on TV, and I'll never forget chatting to the older girl about Chinese pop culture and music- she has introduced me to some fantastic artists who I still listen to today (and still desperately try to understand the lyrics).
No doubt, this
journey has had its ups and downs and has not come without its challenges- I think most people, including myself underestimate what it’s like to actually live with another family in a vastly different culture. It is challenging for anyone- it doesn't matter if you're the most opening and welcoming person in the world- this situation still comes with challenges. But at the same time- if things work out alright, there are really awesome and special moments too. :-)
It is these memories, together with the challenges I've overcome and the things I've learnt about myself that I will remember most from this journey.
Now is the time to focus and prepare myself for some independent and crazy travelling across China's southeast!
There are more photos below