Vroom Vroom

Still in English mode after visiting with a new friend, so I thought I’d write a little more.

It’s a lovely night, if a little warm. Oddly enough a guitar-playing foreigner has parked himself outside the dorm and I can hear him now. How nice. He was out earlier in the day, and now again. He must have just arrived. Pretty cool.

On another artsy note, my teacher told me about a hangout not far from here that I’m going to check out. She said there are both Chinese and foreigner painters, musicians, and things. Sounds cool and only a short bus ride away.

My roommate hasn’t returned from the hospital yet. But I asked my suite-mates and they don’t seem very concerned. She hasn’t called. To be honest, I’m a little worried, but I suppose we know she’s not alone so that’s ok.

I went to the Auto Expo with my teacher this afternoon. I think she was pretty disappointed. There really weren’t that many people, and we were both too intimidated by the fancy ladies in sequins to actually even sit in a car. But my teacher did point out that some of the cars were available for a test drive if you had held a valid license for longer than 1 year. She’s had her’s for 4 months, so no test driving. (Wouldn’t that have been crazy? Racing around in a BMW in a Chinese convention center?) I could tell she was a little disappointed — the crazy singers/dancers did not really appeal to her and she couldn’t find any of her friends. So, I bought her some delicious ice cream. I think we both felt better after that! Yum!

Tomorrow I’ve been invited to a woman’s home for a language exchange session. I’m pretty scared. I know she has a 2-year-old, so I picked up some english/chinese picture books. Maybe I’ll bring some exotic western food too. I’m really intimidated… I hope I don’t make a complete ass of myself. My teacher introduced us, and I don’t want to embarass her either. How stressful.

Insanely Social

My poor roommate, 蘑菇 (Mushroom) is sick and has been carted off to the hospital by her Korean friends.  She hasn’t been sick to her stomach or vomitting — it’s probably just a sinus infection, I think.  Anyway, she’s unhappy so they’ll try and get her some more powerful medicine.  I have a tickle of a soar throat myself.
I introduced myself to three different groups of people here — all new students at the school.  See?  I’m very outgoing here in China.  Not at all the insanely shy person you know, eh?

One woman I met is studying with her two high school-age boys.  Not a common site to see foreigners under 18 here — babies sometimes and occassionally a little older.  K. had an American accent by all accounts, but said they live in Costa Rica now and have spent the last couple of summers in China.  How interesting.  She was envious that I was planning to study for a year, because they can’t seem to get visas for the boys without getting work permits themselves (they = K. and husband, I assume).  Anyway, it’s always interesting to see people living differently — it’s good.  Hard not to be jealous of those kids!
Off now to join some friends at a cafe.

DECLINED

This morning when I got back from class, I saw one of my suite-mates packing.  Everything.  (I share a room with one other person, and we share a bathroom/laundry area with two other rooms.)  So, of course, I ask her if she’s going home.  Yes!  Back to Thailand at 3:00 p.m. today.  Oh, man.  I’m sure she tried to tell me this at some point, but really had no idea.  How embarassing!  So I asked if we could have lunch, and she said she was hoping we could all go.  I’m not sure if I was originally invited.  Who knows?  I’m usually in class all day on Wednesday, so maybe they thought I wouldn’t be around.  Confusion!  Anyway, we had a great big Korean lunch.  Before we left, I offered to add some songs to her MP3 player — this was an excellent idea.  I gave her some Ani DiFranco, Liz Phair, Fiona Apple, Dressy Bessy, and David Byrne.  I think she really liked that.  Yay!

Well, I really was going to buy a camera today.  I picked one out at Carrefour per Jeremy’s suggestion that I could use my credit card there.  The cheapest one I could find was about 500 RMB (~$62.50), so I asked to take a look at it.  The saleswoman was very nice, and she seemed to understand my Chinese.  She sure didn’t try to speak English.  I suspect she wasn’t able.  After looking the display model over, I wanted to see the box, but I wasn’t able to convey this to her.  Another customer overheard and asked if he could help.  So nice!  Magically, the sales woman produced the box which even contained an English manual.  It wasn’t a great camera, but I was ready to buy it.  She offered to put some batteries in it and let me try it, so I agreed.  I waited while she fooled with first some dead batteries and then some new ones.  Um, it wasn’t working.  So, she finds an unopened one.  It doesn’t work either.  Sigh.

So, what’s next cheapest model?  A whopping 1200 RMB ($150.00).  I decided to take a look a little more expensive camera that resembled a camera I used before.  It was a Cannon and the price tag was 1400 RMB ($175).  It included a very small memory card, so I asked if she had a bigger one.  She said she would upgrade me for free.  Hmmm…  I’m sure that means I was paying WAY too much, but whatever, I was willing.

But.  The credit card wouldn’t go through!  I asked them to try a couple of times, but it was a no go.  So, no camera for me.  I’ll wait until I save up the cash.  I’m disappointed, but it’s a luxury not an necessity.  It can wait.

Tomorrow I’m going to an Auto Expo with one of my teachers.  I have no idea what to expect, but what the heck.

Whoah

Found another blogger here in Kunming, studying at the same university!

Curiously enough, his blog is at http://www.jonathaninchina.com/
And he seems to have arrived around June 1st as well.

Weird!  Well, he certainly has a superiour blog, if only because of the photos.  Tomorrow I buy a camera.

Saved by the Bell?

I’m having a “why am I in China?” day. It’s raining like crazy, and I’m mad at my teachers. I’m at once totally too busy and not busy enough. Everything keeps getting rescheduled. It’s impossible to keep track of what I need to do each day. I feel so unprepared.

Yesterday, my teacher calls me at 8:00 p.m. to reschedule Wednesday’s class for Tuesday (today). Ok, so I stay up late making sure I have memorized all my vocab and everything. That’s good for me, I guess.

So. So today I started out feeling extra prepared for my classes, but my teacher was totally impatient with me because I couldn’t remember the Chinese words for all the particles of speech. I mean, I don’t think I can define “predicate” in English. Just insane. I almost cried. I got all my vocab words correct on my quiz! But she didn’t seem to care.

And. And I was supposed to have a second class today, but she conspired with this first teacher, realizing that tomorrow’s class had been rescheduled for today — she insisted that we have 4 hours of class tomorrow instead of the normal 2 hours. What?!? I protested, but relented because BOTH of my teachers are there and I can’t say I’m not available. I can’t do it! The reason she wanted to reschedule is that today her student 1:00-3:00 p.m. cancelled, so she didn’t want to wait around for our 3:00-5:00 p.m. class. Not MY fault! And I did so much work to prepare for today’s class…

And. And then at the end of my class (we end EARLY) my teacher says, oh we have to end class because I have to punch the clock for your other teacher. What?!? We end EARLY so you can punch the clock for a class I’m not having. Oh, makes me so mad. Of course I didn’t say a word.

I mean, I was speechless.

I feel like everyone’s pet foreigner. Really uncool. And these are the two teachers I LIKED.

Sigh. And I’ve called two different people, but no one’s available for dinner. Eating alone again.

7:30 p.m. Update: I watched an incredibly depressing movie (bad move), but I called my teacher (good move) and negotiated down to 3 hours tomorrow and next week we make up the other hour. She was clearly embarassed and apologetic, but I’m still feeling like a pushover. Argh!