…and he doesn’t know what it is (because he doesn’t read English), he’ll try to figure out how it works. And, once he’s figured out how it it works, he’ll try to use it on everything, including his mom’s leg. And, if you show him that it’s not for skin, but for clothing stains, he’ll press it all over his shirt until he’s satisfied. And then, only when he’s satisfied, will he return it to you. I like this little ten-year-old boy very much. I THINK he likes me, too, but I also think he’s getting fed up with me because I don’t understand enough Chinese, haha.
In other news, I told my host mom today that when I go back to America, I’m going to miss this certain type of pork she makes called hong shao rou (红烧肉 red-cooked meat, or something like that). She asked if we have it in America, and I told her no, so she said she would teach me to make it. Now, I am a hopeless failure of a cook, so I’m not sure how this is going to go, especially since there won’t be any English involved. Also, even if I can manage to make something that turns out even remotely like my host mom’s, I’m not so sure I’ll be able to recreate it on my own. I’ll report later on how it goes.
Today I found another book store. It’s smaller, quieter, and less crowded than the large book store I went to with my host sister this past weekend. It’s also very conveniently located, right across the street from my school. The store’s owner probably thought I was insane… I bought the Chinese version of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? to give to my toddler cousins (I know they already have it, but this is the CHINESE version haha); four Baby Looney Toons books; an elementary school book of traditional poetry; two baby vocabulary books; the Chinese versions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Little Prince; and two gaokao (高考) study books. (The gaokao is like the ACT on steroids… It’s China’s college entrance exam.)
And now for my triumphant moment of the day: I was walking up the stairs to my apartment with my host sister (we live on the 4th floor of a 6-story building, and there’s no elevator), and on one of the landings, we passed a man who just kept repeating “外国人，外国人” (“foreigner, foreigner”) over and over again. So, after he had said it about 6 times, I turned around and told him, “我不是外国人，我是中国人！” (“I’m not a foreigner; I’m Chinese!”) He and my host sister started laughing and I heard the man say (in a rather surprised voice), “她听得懂！” (“She understands!”) I’ve decided that I’m going to do that from now on, whenever somebody calls me “foreigner.” I’m going to ask where/who the foreigner is or tell them that I’m not a foreigner. It’ll make a lot of people laugh.
Finally, since this is Week 3, the halfway point of the program, I’ve had the time to identify things that I miss about home and things that I will miss about China when I leave.
Things I miss about America: fabric softener; no car horns at night; the NCHS band; American breakfast food; knowing what things are in restaurants; my bed; Chick-fil-a; lemonade; Menchie’s; pizza; being able to pet the animals; being able to fully explain rather than just nodding or giving a simple answer
Things I will miss about China: my Chinese family; my host mom’s cooking; having lots of shops and restaurants within walking distance or easily accessible by bus; by extension, being able to go places myself because it’s easy to get there; Chinese snack foods such as strawberry Oreos; Coco, the best place in the world for bubble tea; being able to practice Chinese frequently
Before I go, I have an insight about the last point, that I will miss having lots of opportunities to practice Chinese. I thought about it the other day, and found it interesting that when I’m in America, all I want to do is use Chinese and try to have conversations with people, but there’s hardly anyone to practice with. Now, I’m in China, surrounded by millions of people who speak Standard Mandarin, and I often find myself searching for English. That feeling is slowly going away the longer I’m here and the more I learn to understand, but sometimes I want to just plant myself in front of the one English news channel and watch it for an extended period of time, as boring as it is. But, my host family keeps telling me that I need to use Chinese, and I try to even think in it occasionally. I know I need to practice, and I’m slowly gaining confidence and ability.