Alison Jewitt – China 7

So nothing much of excitement has happened this past week.

I have been asked some really strange questions by my students though, and some funny ones!

‘Why are you so white?’ I just said I was born this way.

‘How do you keep your skin so white?’ again, I was born this way…. There is a big market here for skin whiteners. I had real difficulty finding a moisturiser that didn’t include some way of making me paler. Like I need that!

The funniest one was ‘Do you have a Chinese boyfriend?’ and when I said no, he said ‘Do you want one?!’ and looked at me all expectantly! I said that if I find a Chinese man my age who is taller than me then I’d consider it! They seemed satisfied with my response…

One of the Chinese English teachers was in Scotland last year teaching Mandarin so she is going to teach me some Chinese. We can’t start til October though as she is doing an OU course and has a big project due.

She came by my apartment the other day with a local fruit for me. The fruit is a load of round things on a branch. They’re called Dragon eyeballs. Nice. You peel them and they are kind of like peeled grapes underneath the hard skin but kind of harder and slimier. It actually feels like eating an eyeball. Despite the strange consistency, they do taste nice though.

From now on I have to teach using the textbook which is rubbish! The speaking exercises are so boring and actually have hardly any speaking involved since they are expected to write everything down first. But, I must do as I’m told!

While in Shanghai, I learned about the animals of the Chinese calendar. It’s quite a cool story. There are twelve animals in the cycle and the gods were having difficulty deciding the order in which to place the animals as each one wanted to be first. To solve the problem, the gods set up a race across a river. All the animals raced across the river but the ox didn’t realise that the rat had jumped on his back. Just before the ox reached the shore in first place, the rat jumped off his back and beat him to it. Which is why the rat is first in the calendar. It is also an insult to call a woman a tiger and it’s really unfortunate if you are a woman born in the year of the tiger as it means you have an uncontrollable temper. Years of the Tiger are 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986 and 1998. So bad luck if that’s you!

Posted from China:

posted Sunday September 2006