In which I obsessively make pros and cons lists, and visit the zoo!
Things I love about China (in no particular order): the language, written and spoken; hot pot; my favorite restaurant in Hua Zhuangr; lamb chuanr; Muslim noodles; food in general; the bicycle culture; Beijing historical sights; the Great Wall; my easy teaching schedule; my students; fresh veggies for really cheap; ridiculously good service at restaurants, cheap shopping; milk tea; ridiculous things that happen to me constantly; my language partner; inventive cooking that occurs with one stove burner and no convenience food;
Things I miss about the U.S. (also in no particular order): proximity to my family; easy communication when I need to get things done; grocery stores filled with everything I could possibly want; canned goods; stoves with more than one burner; refrigerators that hold more than a gallon of milk; bicycling for fun; jiu-jitsu; normal clothes in normal sizes; quiet; nature; camping and hiking; movies at the theater; snow; boys to date; a larger pool of people with whom I might share interests; Thanksgiving and Christmas; a job with a purpose; religious options; taking baths; reliability of utilities; medical and dental care; clean air;
To be continued…
The stress of a job search in the U.S. from overseas is beginning to take its toll on me. I mean, I’m starting to go out drinking and dancing on Friday nights. Honestly, this is a new low. Actually, it’s quite fun. Last weekend, we enjoyed some real pizza in the city before hitting two clubs playing 80s music (Dear Love Shack, Three times is enough. Cease and desist. Love, Katie). Tonight, we’re going to enjoy some Persian food before salsa dancing (Can one fake salsa dancing? I hope so.). I learned that I need a Connecticut teaching license BEFORE being considered for any positions, and the same may be true in Massachusetts. My Texas license may be converted to either of these out of state licenses (a temporary one, anyway, that may later require me to pass a test or two and take additional classes!) for a hefty fee. I’m pursuing this now, but have already spent so much time on applications that may have been filed in the circular file. I’ve looked into some private schools, but most of them just nauseate me (“At The Old Halls School, we pride ourselves on developing charm and character in young women, especially through education in equitation and horse management.” I made that up.), and require that I also serve as a “dorm parent.” But I press on. Now I understand why people don’t leave China: the inconvenience of leaving is just slightly greater than that of staying!!
Spring seems to have arrived. I’ve packed away the long underwear and the winter jackets and am enjoying my bicycle rides into town. I’ve picked up a few extra hours each week tutoring a student at the local university in English, which is a great learning experience for me (“The, th! Th! Th! Not ‘Zuh!’”) and a little extra cash. A new bubble tea place has opened in the Village, and I’m quite sure I’m their biggest customer. They’re still baffled that I can’t read the menu.
Last weekend, I went to the zoo with a colleague of mine. I was afraid that the zoo would be cold war style: tiny cages of unhappy, pacing large mammals. And there was a bit of that when it came to the elephants, lions and tigers. Predictably, the pandas had enormous enclosures and associated crowds, but the monkey, lemur and other small mammal exhibits were also quite well done. There was a strange chicken and pheasant exhibit featuring some weird birds I’ve never seen before. And they sold hot dogs. Having a bit (ahem) of a hangover, this just sounded delicious. And so Matt bought a “bacon hotdog.” Upon biting into it, he realized that it contained bacon, toppings and no hot dog. I then had the following conversation (in Chinese, with the exceptions of the worlds “bacon” and “hot dog” which I do not know in Chinese.)
Me: Excuse me, we have a little problem. His bacon hot dog does not have a hot dog.
Man: Oh, you only choose one meat.
Me: But the sign says “Bacon hot dog.”
Man: Oh. You just get bacon.
Me: You can’t call it a bacon hot dog if there’s no hot dog.
Man: (Confused look)
Me: So you should give us a hot dog. Please.
Man: (Confused look at colleagues) Ok.
And a hot dog (on a stick!) was handed over and nestled into the bun, next to the bacon. And all was well. I love communication. (Note to self: look up words for “bacon” and “hot dog.”)