Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wow--I'm here again!

A little shot of my favorite part of Wuhan, public dancing in all the main squares and intersections across the city every weekend evening

If anyone still checks this blog, I'm still here in China! The internet proxies we use to access blocked sites keep getting shut down and then new ones pop up just as fast, so it's a whirlwind when it comes down to it. This one is working NOW, but who knows, maybe by the time I finish this post, will have disappeared. Still no pictures.

Things over here are great, winter has passed and all of Wuhan is blooming. I live near the famous Wuhan University, which every Spring is inundated with photographers and tourists for its huge assembly of blossoming cherry and plum trees. I also live near East Lake, the largest city lake in China (or something like that), which also has a park of blossoming trees and beautiful scenery. This means on sunny weekend days, this side of the city is teeming with more crowds than I've seen during my whole stay in China. It also means traffic gridlock.

So for all the wonders of the weather, I've been doing A LOT of walking! Ahh, Wuhan. The city is in the middle of major bridge and tunnel construction, building a subway and elevated highways all over the place. Since it is doing this construction simultaneously, shutting down or narrowing major boulevards for future glory, we're all in a bit of a funk, traffic wise. It seems that at any gathering of friends, we all arrive disgruntled and tired from crammed buses, insane taxis, and aggressive foot traffic. I miss the days of a Sunday stroll!

pic of some ever present Wuhan construction

But, China is still worth it! I'm mostly just updating in case I don't have a chance in the future, so I'll leave you with an edition of "ESL students say the darndest things!" (some of these might be altered by my memory)

-- A few months ago I invited a student over to my place for brunch. However, I didn't realize that my text message spelled brunch as "crunch" until the student replied that she'd love to have "crunch" with me and really looked forward to it! I imagine her searching the internet for the explanation of the Western "crunch".

--Also a few months ago, in class as I was teaching, my whiteboard marker dried up. A student raised his hand and said he would go get me some "extraordinary markers." "Wow," I thought, looking forward to having a marker deemed extraordinary. China is a nation of superlatives, but I found it puzzling. The student brought me two normal markers, and needing to move on with class, I forgot. Until after class, when the student showed me the supply closet stocked with "extraordinary pencils, extraordinary markers, and extraordinary stools." I almost didn't want to correct him, after all, wouldn't it be nice if we viewed all "extra" items as "extraordinary"! Maybe we'd see life in a much more positive light!

--A friend had to cancel a meeting with a student. When she apologized for the schedule change, her student replied that it was ok and that "Maybe it's my patience that will lead to our great meet!"

--After class, I joined some students at a city park that has some amusement rides. The students were so excited that we were going to ride the "multi-touch cars" or the "touch each other cars" or the "touch touch cars". Finally, I convinced them that it was Chinglish and to start saying "bumper cars" instead. They must have misheard me, because later that night I got an email from a student saying that she had so much fun on the "touch-and- bump-her-cars".

--In a culture class discussing the words for dating and relationships, I asked my students what we call a woman who is "with" a married man...ready to teach "mistress" and "the other woman." Students yelled out in unison "Second milk!" which is the direct English translation of their word for it. Except for one student, who instead yelled out "Sl_t!" I know it's inappropriate, but it was pretty funny.

--I teach a video class where I show a DVD with actors from the early 90s showing various scenarios; ordering food in a restaurant, asking for directions, etc. In one video, a man is at the office and has a cold. We pause the video to practice the English words for his symptoms. For some reason, all of my students told me he had a "snoofy nose and cottled throat." I still can't figure out where that came from!

That's all for now! We'll see how much access I have in the coming days and I'll try to update when I can! Take care and enjoy the Spring!