Oof, feels like it’s been forever since I last posted.
Summer’s here in full swing and I’ve seen my fair share of Chinese man-belly. It’s sweltering out. The sun’s in full bloom at 4:30 a.m. and I’m eating watermelon just near everyday now. I have to make a special effort to step aside and realize that I’ve become so accustomed to life here. I can’t remember what the first day of class was like anymore. I’m going to film a short video this week so I can show you what my typical day is like.
And let me share a bit about my teachers here while I’m taking a jab at the mundane.
To be bluntly honest, Beijing History and Culture class is the bane of my existence here. Monday, Wednesday, Friday. One hour. Facepalm. It’s taught in English, but I’d rather it be taught in Chinese. It might even be more productive that way. And I think my teacher thinks she’s still 16, or at least she dresses that way (Chinese fashion still confuses me). Her collection of probing questions include “How do you be a brilliant diplomat?” and “How to make all religions live peacefully together?” Okay, fine. It’s not fair for me to poke fun at her English. And as for the latter question, if we knew then just about all the world’s problems would be solved. I mean, I definitely wouldn’t be able to teach an entire class in Chinese. However, even if her questions were translated back into Chinese, they wouldn’t be any less strange or more pertinent.
I’ve got two Chinese teachers— Li Laoshi and Liu Lasohi. The former is a man, the latter, a woman. They’re both graduate students here at Tsinghua and they might just be two of the best teachers I’ve ever had. Each day’s three hour class is instructed entirely in Chinese and I can tell they’re both genuinely good-hearted people who truly care about our understanding of their language. Their awesomeness makes up for Swallow’s (History and Culture teacher) lack thereof. Li Laoshi lived in Hungary for 20 years (he claims he’s 40, but we’re all fairly certain he’s actually 27) and sometimes his Hungarian accent slips into his Chinese or English. Sometimes entire Hungarian words even manage to sneak their way in. Today he insisted he was saying what he though was “billion,” but was actually “milliard.” You could imagine everyone’s crumply, confused faces as we tried again and again to guess his meaning. Li Laoshi also likes complimenting our Chinese. My favorite of his token compliments is “very standard!” It’s just funny to hear him say that because in English, standard tends to have a very “meh” connotation. He interprets “standard” as “model and ideal.” Today I taught him how to casually clip “super” onto the front of any adjective as an intensifier. My newest favorite compliment of his?
I can’t even articulate how hilarious I find that. Bringing that one back to the states for sure.
Just came back from dinner with our class and Li Laoshi. He treated us, ordered way too much food, and made sure everyone’s cups were never without at least a little drank—白酒. The most famous alcoholic beverage in China is 白酒 (Bái jiǔ). I personally detest its petrol-esque flavor. It just darts to the back of your throat, strangles your uvula and then shoots down to the bottom of your stomach and…eughgh. Just another cultural experience, I suppose.