Hello everyone! Firstly, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday!
Winter has come to Dalian! It’s really cold, and keeps getting colder! As such, when I got my annual cold, it ended up lasting about 5 weeks… I think because my immune system is not used to the air of China! I went to the doctor, which was an interesting experience! My students took me and translated, which was a wonderful help. The 1st time I went they gave me an antibiotic and this box of pills that was all in Chinese except for the number 12…. so they were known as the magic #12 pills. Like all the other cold medicine that I took, including the things I brought with me from the states, they worked for a little while, but as soon as they wore off I was back to being miserable. My students took me back to the doctor, and they asked if I would be willing to try Chinese Traditional Medicine… I said that I was willing to try anything they thought would help, so I was handed 3 things… capsules, pouches of syrup, and these bags of greenish-brown granules. The cough syrup tasted like extremely concentrated grape cough syrup… so pretty nasty! The granules were just weird. I mixed them with water and drank it down, and I was never able to decide if I liked the taste or not… but, they worked like magic! I am about 90% better. Its awesome!
Classes are going pretty well… its getting down to the last few weeks of the semester, so everyone is starting to go into the end-of-term study crunch. A few of my student/friends have been going to the library almost every day to study. One day they invited me to go along and work on my Chinese workbook so that I could ask questions if needed. We were all working quietly and I started coughing. After a couple minutes I couldn’t stop, so one of the girls offered me her water bottle to help my cough. I took a big gulp to help, completely forgetting that Chinese people believe that cold water is bad for your health, and the hotter the water, the more beneficial it is…. because of this, the gulp of water I took was scalding hot! I managed to stop coughing, because I think I burned the cough away. The girls I was working with saw my eyes bug out and starting laughing hysterically. I was able to turn it into a lesson on cultural differences: Every week these same girls ask why my water bottle is filled with cool water, so I told them now you know; I would burn my mouth every time I took a drink!!! It was definitely very funny!
I also felt very accomplished with myself and my Chinese skills. Since I got here, I had been buying 2 liter bottles of water from the store, but I was buying tons of bottles! I was talking to one of my neighbors one day, and he told me that if you ask, the building manager will give you a dispenser and one of those 5 gallon bottles of water, and then when you need a new bottle you take down the bottle and 10 RMB and get a new one. And its all filtered water, because tap wate here is not usable, even for brushing your teeth! So I took it upon myself to get a dispenser. Of course our building manager is is this wonderful little old lady who does not speak a word of English, and takes it upon herself to further my Chinese any chance she gets. So I translated the phrase I want a water dispenser please into Chinese, and after practicing it for a while, went down to see what would happen. Well 20 minutes and a lot fo hand gestures later, I had a water dispenser! It has made life much easier, and its nice to have already filtered water here all the time! I was also very proud of my accomplishment because I didn’t use a single word of English! I am beginning to understand simple phrases in Chinese. I can say words and small phrases. Today I went to my fruit vendor and got some dried candied ginger, and not only was I able to understand when the man said be careful, its spicy! I was able to say I like ginger back! Most of the food vendors around my building know that I am trying to learn Chinese so they always make me say my order, and help with my pronunciation.
Lastly, I am thankful I finally started feeling better because Friday night I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving with 50 other foreigners. A friend of mine that teaches English at another University in town invited me to this dinner, and It was wonderful! The dinner took place at a hotel, and it was buffet style. They had a variety of different foods including Chinese, American, Japanese, and Mexican! I was in a 7th heaven of western foods! I had turkey, cranberries, quesadillas, pumpkin pie, stuffing, and some bread with cheese, which here is a delicacy!!!! It was fun to be able to talk with so many other foreigners and enjoy the holiday. I am still loving Chinese food, but there are moments where I crave anything remotely Western. As a result, I eat a lot of Oreos, which are something I rarely if ever eat in the states!
Well I hope you have enjoyed these stories! I didn’t realize so much time had passed since I had written my last post! Time is definitely flying here, but I love being able to share my stories with all of you! Have a wonderful week!
Lots of Love from freezing Dalian, Ashley 🙂