Yesterday and today have both been very good days. Sunday was spent wandering around Baoding with friends and today, Monday, was spent teaching. I enjoyed each day, though for different reasons, very much.
Sunday morning Duncan and I took Kuai Long on a morning ride around our part of Baoding in search of breakfast. I was very pleased with myself when I ordered a Coke and a bottle of pear tea for the both of us and paid all by myself in Chinese. Then, we went on an exploration to see a new part of Baoding and stumbled upon a row of food stands where we bought these breakfast burritos.
Basically, it’s homemade bread with the consistency of soft English muffins and filled with pork meat and fat. It was absolutely delicious. This venture did not go off flawlessly, however, as we ended up ordering what can only be described as two medium-sized drink cups filled with (sorry vegetarians and those with weak stomachs) meat juice and blood. The people before us ordered it and the lady behind the stand was really excited to offer it to us so we agreed even though we didn’t know what it was. I stuck the straw in (the big kind of straws you use to drink bubble tea or thick smoothies) and I dipped some on my tongue. After asserting that I couldn’t tell what it was and that it didn’t really taste like anything, I started slurping the liquid up the straw but as I began to see what was slowly getting closer to my mouth I had to stop and we both realized, though adventurous, we would not be drinking this mystery concoction.
We finished our breakfast sandwiches with a new momentary street dog companion, threw our mystery drinks away, and rode off.
That afternoon we wandered into a ritzier part of Baoding and found a gigantic (above ground) shopping mall with designer brands, a movie theater, an arcade, and a Starbucks. After we hung out in there for a while and had some great intellectually stimulating conversations about politics, governments, university education, and famous authors, we went to another side of town (over by the Agricultural University where our other foreign teacher friends teach) and ended up hanging out with everyone in a Chinese couple’s super cool apartment for the evening. We were served the best Peking duck I’ve ever eaten along with some delicious cognac and an assortment of other potluck finds while the conversations continued well into the evening.
Today was a day filled with teaching sixth graders for the first time. They were all great students and the teaching assistants, though a little scary in the classroom, are very pleasant in the teachers’ offices. I will not be surprised if the sixth grade classes end up being my favorite classes. They all seem to be energetic and engaged in class and excited to talk to me. Several students came up to me in the hallways and had actual conversations with me rather than just saying “hello” and/or asking my name and running away giggling.
I also am expecting that I will be doing the most teaching in the fifth and sixth grade classes and the seventh and eighth grade classes will end up primarily spent on games and focused entertainment. All in all, I am enjoying teaching more than I expected and I am looking forward to the school year and getting to know these students and classes.
When we weren’t teaching, Duncan and I went into town to get food and relax off-campus but nothing extraordinary (at least for being in China) happened.
As a result of everything going so well recently, Sunday was the first day since I’ve been in China that I have had the excitement about living in China that I had anticipating my trip here. I am re-inspired to learn the language and the culture; I am excited to meet new people and make new friends; I am gaining confidence in my teaching; and I am looking forward to traveling.
I think reality has finally started dawning on me – this is my life; we are living in China!
To end this post, here are some pictures of the place we will call home for the next year:
Our laundry room/extra bathroom with squatty potties in the fourth floor hallway:
Xièxiè nǐ, zàijiàn! (Thank you, good bye!)