Monday, March 30, 2009

You caught me!

Yes Evie, I know I did. My life is not exciting as of late though! Let's just post some random stuff why don't we.

I had my Chinese class today with Wang Laoshi and she warned me to use an umbrella when I go outside because the sun in Panzhihua is especially strong and I will get very dark if I don't. She followed it up by saying that Claire and Colleen are not required to do so because they are white, and white people actually become whiter when they are in the sun. Now how's that for a little known fact?

T-10 days until the GMAT! I compare it to the last 200m in an 800m race (my personal favorite) so I think it's time to buckle down and study hard. This upcoming weekend is a holiday (we have the day off on Monday) but I will be cooping myself up in my apartment to study study study.

Jelly Belly! I am working on finishing off the canister of these that Kelley gave me when I was in Chengdu. So delicious. I especially like them when they are all mixed together like this and you get yucky flavors intermittently...I have always found buttered popcorn a bit odd and I still do and I'm not a fan of the banana flavor (I think that's the dark yellow with brown spots) but the juicy pear flavor is really growing on me and I also enjoy the vanilla ones (white with black dots, not the brown spots which I believe is smores flavor or something like that).

Chunk of beef in vacuum sealed package or a full package of "Salt & Crisp: cheerful Gangdong good taste for you" cookies? Those are your choices when it comes to airline snacks in China. I flew to Chengdu this past weekend for a meeting and got some beef chunks on the way there and cookies on the way back. I was quite surprised by the cookies since I am used to receiving a miniature package of pretzels or peanuts or whatever on the plane, but apparently China Airlines goes all out and lets you have a large pack of cookies to yourself. I am not complaining, although I do prefer the beef chunks.

Today, I had students in my class do movie scene role plays in groups where I gave them a genre and they had to create a story and then perform it for the class. Oddly enough, the "martial arts" film had people using guns to catch the bad guys (no martial arts involved) and then the "mystery" film...well...I'm still trying to figure out what it was. More like a brainteaser I guess. They had one student go up there and explain how there was a woman (40 yrs old) and her daughter (20 years old) and then a man (42 years old) and his son (22 years old) and the woman marries the son and the man marries the daughter and something about their convoluted relationship and what you were supposed to call the father (grandfather) and the mother (grandmother) and how they would be brother and sister to the son/daughter. Or something weird like that. I still don't have it straight and clearly I should have explained "mystery" film better. I was thinking we were going to get a whodunit type scene where someone is dead and they try to figure who did it...but yeah.

Okay, that's all I got. More to come when interesting things actually happen in my life!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy Virus...The Perfect Gift

I love the freshmen Class 2 girls. Today during our break they came to find me (I don't teach their class) and gave me a gift. I opened it, and lo and behold, a compact! It is adorned with a bear dressed up in a peacoat drinking some kind of cocktail and the phrase "Happy Virus" on it. Very sparkly and very fashion. It is the perfect gift because the other day at dinner they were asking me what I eat for breakfast and I said that I eat oatmeal sometimes and junk food other times. I said I didn't buy baozi (steamed bun stuffed with meat) or man tou (steamed bun) on the way to class because I was afraid of having it stuck in my teeth and teaching that way and I didn't have a mirror. But now I do! So I can eat baozi and mantou everyday on the way to class and be fat and happy.

Chinese lesson of the Day: Fat is not an insult here. Fat has a positive connotation of being pleasantly plump and cute. If you want to insult someone about his or her weight you need to call them 肥 (fei2) - which I believe translates more to "fatty."

Friday, March 6, 2009

Gender: Male, Female, or Handsome Man?

So I gave my sophomore students an assignment to fill out a biography card with general data and the answers to a few questions. There were a few choice jewels hidden among mostly generic answers. My favorite had to be the card of a student where he put his gender as "Handsome Man" and went on to say that the one thing that makes him different from others is the following re: everyone's fave football star. "Most of us hope themselves have Beckham's face. However, for me, I don't want to have this kind of hope because everyone says to me: 'Beckham looks like you.' This is me." Yes, ladies and gentlemen, somewhere along the line Beckham became Asian. A few other notes of what makes a student different from others: "I think I'm a beautiful and fair maiden," "I'm fat and quiet," and "I'm good at thinking!" Classic.

I also went to a lunch today (something related to Women's Day and the teacher's union) where there were the usual rounds of toasts with beer. Of course, the men like trying to get you to chug a glass of beer with them, but what I realize is that as much as they like testing you to see if you drink, I like throwing it back in their faces and taking a sip and refusing the demands of "gan bei" until they give up. Headstrong independent American women, don't mess with us. We know that you think all Americans can drink a lot of beer and that we enjoy it, but if we don't want to, we won't. Muahaha. I win. I don't mind drinking some beer every now and again, but I don't particularly like doing it at lunchtime, especially when I have an afternoon of studying for the GMAT ahead of me. I particularly enjoyed one man's faulty logic that said I was obligated finish my glass of beer because China gave Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan (the pandas) to Taiwan. Right.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Week 1...Check!

"Hi, my name is Joy, I am 19 years old and from Singapore and I will be your teacher for the semester." Yup, the good old Panzhihua U. rumor mill was at it again. One student told me she heard I was from Singapore and another student told me she heard I was born in 1989 (making me the same age as half of my students). Completely illogical, but then again does it ever make any sense?

So far, so good though. I had all four of my classes and although some went off better than others, all in all I think I made a decent first impression. Even the class that I felt went the worst of all of them (evidence was the clueless expression on about half of the students' faces throughout class), a student that was Michael's student last semester that was in that class told him that I was "funny" and I "speak loudly." Hey, you hear that one? Man, I never thought that day would come but I guess my slow yelling technique for presenting in class is working! My classes have anywhere from 35-45 students so I have to be a little loud to get the attention of the people in the back of the classroom :)

I was thrilled to have a big group of girls from one of my classes come to English Corner, rearing to get to know me better and hang out with me (although the Class 2 girls that I met last semester will always be my best buds). It's a good feeling to finally have my own students though, and as tiring as teaching may be (yes, we do need that hour-long nap if you teach from 8-12 in the morning), it's definitely rewarding. I can already tell it's also going to be a challenge though, keeping the students interested throughout the semester as well as finding ways to let them have fun, but improve their English at the same time. That's tricky.

Ok, I'm tired now! English Corner is an energy-drainer. Apparently Women's Day in China is coming up though so that means we have a volleyball thing and lunch (hopefully a tasty banquet) with our WaiBan and then Sunday we're headed to Xi1Chang1 for a daytrip. Woohoo. Now if I could just find time to study for the GMAT...