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Published: March 20th 2008
Another week has almost gone by since my last entry so life must be busy! We have sort of settled into a new routine but that might be pushing it since new experiences are still occurring each week. The weather is certainly warming up and more birds can be heard every day. For awhile we wondered if there were any birds around here but I guess they really don’t appear until the weather gets fairly warm…definitely a bunch of wooses (sp?) compared to our Canadian species. The cherry blossoms are out and new flowers are appearing everywhere.
Last Friday night found us again at Mr. Mai’s coffee house for a couple hours chatting with yet another group of young people. As soon as we walk in the door, several people always approach and ask if they can sit and chat with us. Once again, it was interesting to hear their perspectives on China, etc. This group was quite young…mostly local senior high school kids who had recently found out about the place. Several were about to take a major English entrance exam for university to study languages and wanted some last minute practice. A couple of them spoke as good
English as many Canadians. However, they mentioned that the competition was very stiff. Seventy-five students were taking part in the exam, the top twenty-five would be selected.
They wanted to know if Canadian students had any free time! I almost laughed but tried to answer seriously. I said they probably had too much free time. These students felt very pressured and said they never had time for themselves…work, work, study, study. They went on to say that they often worked until after midnight on papers and more papers. Then they said they will go to university and do more work. And then get married, have a job and a family and never have any free time. After teaching here only a month, I could start to understand their feelings. They take all their studies very seriously and think nothing of staying up all hours of the night studying for a high-school test. Getting good marks, getting very good marks is highly respected. Many are disappointed if they make mistakes on the tests and walk away upset with themselves when I hand back results!
I went on to ask them if there was a drug problem with young people.
All I got in return was a table of blank stares. Like, “What is he talking about?”. It did not compute. Then they started thinking I was looking for prescription drugs or something. So I went on to explain, “No, like bad drugs.” After racking their brains for a bit, the finally began to get an idea of what I was asking. One mentioned that he thought there was an adult in their apartment that did that type of thing. Other than that, it was a non-issue. So that sort of answered my question about that one!
Our high-tech translator arrived this week so we can put a little more effort into learning the language since it has flash cards and other games built in. Hopefully it will help us out in some situations.
And talk about a cash society. We received a couple of cheques in the mail this week but nobody here knows what to do with them. We may end up mailing them back to the bank in BC in order to deposit them. They are in a quandary here trying to find out if we can deposit them or not. I had to explain
what they were before they could even begin the quest of what to do with them. Some things you just take for granted. But in a cash society, many people have never even seen a cheque, let alone know what to do with them. Always interesting every week.
Last night we broke down and went to Starbucks along with a few other teachers on our weekly “shopping trip”. I tried to take a picture of the place but one of the employees immediately told me that no photos were allowed. Apparently it is a Starbucks policy, not China policy. There are several in the city and have exactly the same stuff as those at home. Ok, maybe there are no Green Tea cakes and pastries anywhere else, but other than that it is much the same! And speaking of tea, we went to a nice tea shop and purchased what we thought was a small inexpensive box of tea to try out. The whole time, the employee was trying to tell us something but we went ahead and bought it anyway. We got home and discovered that we had only purchased a decorative empty container. The joy of language…
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