Friday, October 1, 2010

Week 5 in Jiangyou

Saturday night Sharon came over to talk about boys. It is so interesting how the emotional maturity level of Chinese differs from that of westerners. They are not immature by any means (actually in some regards they are more mature than Western youth), but because the Chinese spent so much of their youth behind books and so little time entering into social relationships (particularly with those of the opposite sex) they tend to act a lot younger than Westerners of the same age. So picture this 26 year old woman blushing uncontrollably while she tells me about this man that she has had a crush on for years and how I am the first person that she has ever told. Very interesting.

Sunday I taught all day or I was supposed to teach all day. After going to my third class that day where there were no students I got more than a little confused. I texted my waiban, who informed me he was in another city and had no idea why my students were missing from class, but he was nice enough to call the dean of the department that my students are in and discovered that Freshmen Preschool Education Classes 1-5 and 12 will not be in class on Sunday and Monday and Freshmen Preschool Education classes 6-11 will not be in class on Tuesday and Wednesday because they will be doing observations in a kinderschool during these days. Good to know, especially because all of the freshmen classes that I teach are in the Preschool Education department. Oh well. Sunday night I had a gander at one of the tv/movies websites that one of my students told me about and I watched Disney’s Peter Pan (oh reminiscences). It was quite pleasant, and, oh, the website also had the trailer for the new Harry Potter movie which comes out on my birthday! I am super excited even though I won’t be able to see it.

Monday I went with Kerry to Mianyang to get my visa sorted out. Well the officer working on it had never dealt with a volunteer visa before and didn’t know what to do. We ended up leaving (without my passport, which makes me a bit nervous) and this guy would discuss it with his superior. As long as everything works out, I really don’t care, but I cannot help feeling nervous at the fact that I don’t have a renewed visa yet (which expires September 30) and now I am without my passport. When we got back to the school Kerry and I had dinner, in which he ordered something that was like a spicy French fry (which was amazing!). Then Janice came over in the evening and brought me….cinnamon rolls! She is absolutely amazing. We are also scheming about a Halloween party to throw together. We are just not sure if it should be a teacher get-together or a student get-together.

Tuesday morning I went to go by my train tickets for my weekend trip during National Holiday this weekend. Sharon was nice enough to write everything out for me in Chinese, but when I got to the train station I discovered that all tickets were sold except for ones leaving Thursday morning when I have class or arriving at my destination very late which I didn’t want. Later two of Vivi’s students (Emma and Anna) bought me a ticket for a different day. These two girls are also in my running club and came over to my apartment after the club so I could pay them back and I taught them chess, which they found very interesting once they started picking up on the rules. Other things that happened today include a bird careening into the window of my classroom as I was teaching which scared the living daylights out of me. The bird was okay except for a few feathers it lost.

Tuesday evening was running club, but only two students showed up—faithful Anna and Emma, who didn’t even really want to run, only talk. After Janice left the girls came to my apartment so I could give them the money for the train ticket they bought for me earlier. They were so funny! They were in awe of being invited into my apartment since they said they’d never been in a teacher’s home before. When they sat down Emma pointed to my chess set and asked what it was, so I taught them chess. It was quite fun. They picked up on the rules fairly quickly, and when one made a mistake the other yelled at her in Chinese like best friends do. That evening I watched Whip It (Drew Barrymore’s roller derby movie) on a website a student suggested. Quite a relaxing close to the evening.

Wednesday I taught all day on a wonderfully sunny day with blue skies—such rare sight in Sichuan. I took a leisurely walk after lunch to soak in some vitamin D, and ran into a student of mine that told me I should take care to watch the sun. It will be a battle that I will fight all two years I am here—I know you care Chinese women, but I like the sun. I will not hide under an umbrella when the sun is out. I like being tan and not pale-skinned. I will not succumb to your ideas of feminine beauty. I may even venture forth to sit in the grass on a particularly sunny day and let the soft rays of the sun envelope me in its warmth and comfort of turning my skin brown. Okay I am done with my ranting about the sun, which has since disappeared today behind the typical dismal cloudiness which is Sichuan Province. Wednesday afternoon I went with Sharon and Janice to shop and pay my landline phone bill (which I cannot pay until next week). In the Mall-Mart (yes, Mall-Mart I did not misspell it) I found…canola oil! I was shocked. Canola oil in Jiangyou. It’s absurd. It came in only a large size, but I bought it and it will last me probably all two years that I am here since I will only use it for baking.

So in case you were interested, the following are a list of items that cannot be found in Jiangyou: (some of these items I can find at a bigger city like Mianyang or Chengdu, and some I cannot find anywhere in China, except maybe cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, which I labeled with an *)

• peanut butter comes and goes in Jiangyou, and many times when it is available it has chocolate swirls in it
• all-purpose flour* (there is flour in Mianyang and Chengdu, but not all-purpose)
• hand sanitizer
• fabric softener*
• potato masher (if I really want to, an IKEA opened in Chengdu where I can buy it)
• Spices (some avail. In Mianyang)
• Butter
• Cheese
• Hot chocolate sometimes (always in Mianyang)
• Ground beef (I think this could be all of China. There’s beef, of course, but not ground)
• Turkey
• Ground chicken
• Tampons (pretty sure all of China)
• Deodorant (Mianyang has a spray on type)
• Chocolate chip pieces for baking (*I think)
• Sprinkles*
• Applesauce*
• Different kinds of noodles, like macaroni
• Rolls*
• Bacon (Mianyang stocks this)
• Many kinds of bread

That is all I know of right now. Most of these don’t even matter to me, like when do I ever eat bacon in the States. It’s just interesting. Next time I will do a list of things found in China that are not found in the US.

Thursday I just had two morning classes since the afternoon classes were cancelled for the holiday. After my 11:00 class two of my students approached me and asked if they could ask me a question. I said of course, anything. They looked at each other and I thought, oh boy what are they going to ask me. Their question was: “If Mickey’s girlfriend is Minnie, who is Donald’s girlfriend?” It took every ounce of internal strength I had not to laugh, and I responded quite seriously “Daisy Duck.” Oh my students make me laugh. They often say things to me that really make me laugh, but most of them are errors in English and I soon forget them. in the afternoon I went shopping with Janice which was a bit of a mistake because it was the first day of the holiday, so the store was packed! I was looking for sugar and peanut butter. I got the sugar, but the peanut butter I got my first week in Jiangyou seems to no longer be for sale, instead I found a Chinese version called peanut sauce. I decided I would be brave; the worst that could happen is I throw it all back up. After shopping Janice loaded me up on some books from her library which should last me at least until the end of October since there were 6 of them, all about China which I am trying to learn more and more about. I find that the more I learn about China, the less I really actually do know of this mysterious country.

Friday…success! I succeeded in baking for the first time in my brand new toaster oven delicious chocolate peanut butter cookies! I of course tested the cookies out on myself before offering some to Janice and Mark and taking some to my friends in Yibin. Okay so they are not the greatest cookies, but they are cookies nonetheless and they are alright. I think they would have been a bit better if I had peanut butter with the chocolate swirls which is what I planned to buy instead of the mysterious Chinese peanut sauce. Next time.

Other things for Friday include me meeting Vivi’s husband! I ran into her on my way back from the market downtown, and she was waiting for him at the bus stop by the school. I had dinner with them and another teacher that evening to celebrate the National Day. There was a special on TV with live performances that depicted China. The special program took place in Shanghai and was put on for many dignitaries from around the world as a part of this year’s World Expo which has been in Shanghai and will finish sometime this month. The program was interesting and reminded me of programs that we have in the States during the New Year celebrations.

Hopefully my blogs do not bore you, but if you have any questions about me, China, Peace Corps China, or Peace Corps in general do not hesitate to shoot me an email (—that is what I am here for, to bridge the gaps between two cultures.


  1. Katie!!! I've just caught up on all your entries.....I got a little behind with the craziness of getting started with school, but it sounds like things are going really well! :) I'm glad you have some time off with the National Holiday to relax and travel a bit! It's so surprising to hear of all the things that you can't find in China - we're running into similar situations here in London at times too! Anyways, hope you have a great weekend and start to next week!

  2. I have to admit, I have been absent from following your blog for a week or two. But your latest post made me laugh so many times! You are such a funny friend :) Congrats on the cookies, sorry to hear about the lack of items to be found in China, and GOOD LUCK about the visa. Do you have your your passport back yet?