Hello dear ones, come with me to room 405 and take a glimpse into this China life.
Room 405 has been a place of bended knee and bowed head, a place of laughter, a place of dreams, a place of hope, a place of fellowship, a place of longing, a place of meeting. More than one set of doors were opened when I crossed the threshold into 405 by a Hand mightier than mine.
When you open the door, the first thing you’ll notice is the bathroom and if you look even closer you’ll spy the shower.
The kitchen has no chairs or table but it offers a perfect spot to sit on the counter, duck your head beneath the cabinets, prop your feet up next the stove, and observe the scenes of people coming and going as you eat your morning breakfast. You’ll find a delightful bookshelf in the living room and the firmest mattress you’ve ever slept on in the bedroom.
As far as food goes, I’m on a green diet here. In other words, I make sure to eat green tea ice-cream nearly every day. That’s pretty much like I’m eating broccoli and spinach, right? Despite numerous tutorials, I haven’t quite succeeded in the art of the chopstick usage. My rate of speed with noodles and chopsticks is about one noodle every three minutes, but I’m hoping to improve to a nice one to one ratio in the near future.
You might be wondering how my navigational abilities are coming along in this small, third-class city of a mere 11 million people. My prowess on the bicycle has greatly improved. Now as I weave in and out of the mass of scooters, walkers, and fellow bicyclers trying to avoid being hit by oncoming cars, I only shriek a few times instead of at every intersection.
With regards to my job teaching, the load is light and talk about an ego boost! American students are not inclined to tell you that you are beautiful, they love you, and stay after class until you have to tell them to go. Chinese students combine respect for authority and a desire for friendship. It is not at all strange for students to ask for your number and to want to spend time together outside of class, which is a wonderful way to get to know them and more of the culture yet also an adjustment from the American public school student/teacher relationship.
“Do you think you’ll get used to life here,” is a question that I have been asked several times by Chinese people.
It’s a difficult question to answer. Yes, life here is different but I didn’t come expecting it to be the same as what I have been used to. Transitions are a part of life.
I miss putting on my running shoes, plugging in my ear buds, and escaping down the road. Even when I’ve gone up to the rooftop to retreat and think there is the constant noise of honking horns and people’s voices. But I love that on my walk around the well-used, populated track, a 71 year-old Chinese man will join me for loop after loop not speaking a word of English or wanting my wechat number but merely for the quiet companionship of another. I miss a view of nature right outside my window, but I love observing the daily life scenes as apartment lights flicker on at night and the solitary man at work is illuminated. I miss the structure and routine that my life developed over the past year but love the spontaneous conversations and mystery of the unexpected each day.
Before I go, let me introduce you to our cast of characters in this China story.
First, we have Jacky. You might catch him working on his novel and if you ride a bike next to him, watch out! He has experienced a head-on collision but fortunately there were no fatalities. You never know what he might say next but he has a heart of gold.
Then we have Andrew. You might catch him watching some Shakespeare plays in his room or listening to an audio book at 3x speed or off on an adventure.
Next we have Omar. He may arrive late because he is practicing a monologue in preparation for his acting career, but he’ll always be polished and presentable.
Now we come to David. You might find him playing a sonnet or two on the piano or walking down the road waving his hands in the air. Don’t be alarmed, he is only practicing writing Chinese characters.
And last we have Kat and what can I say? She could be anywhere from the music room to the basketball court. She brings a sense of humor to any situation and a caring ear to any conversation.
We are an eclectic group all brought together this year to teach English and how I love the laughter we can share.
There is so much more to be said of life here from a physical examination that included an ultrasound, EKG, chest x-ray, blood test and eye test, babies that don’t wear diapers, live fish in the supermarket, underground shopping, constant stares, and games of throwing extra large bean bags with old men in the park, but I will leave you now with this peek into room 405.