Culture shock. I guess it's starting to hit me now, but not what most people think of when they hear "culture shock". The fascination stage is over and I've moved into the sinking stage - looking around and shrugging apathetically. I'm starting to think "Why exactly am I here?", and that's not a good thing.
I'm glad that Duncan and I are going to check out tai chi quan on Monday. I need to feel a sense of actually being here, imbedding myself for the next 7 months. I can't do that by simply teaching because I'm surrounded by the English language, other foreign teachers and an environment that is not very Chinese. This gives me a strange "half in, half out" sensation; I'm in China but not reaping the benefits of that.
Part of it is that I haven't been anywhere: Beijing, Qinhuangdao, or Tianjin. I will try to go with Michelle the next time she heads to Beijing, and hopefully Alistair and I hit Qinhuangdao (chin'juan'dao) before the summer weather fades, as it's by the sea.
I just need to step out of this shell and do things. Tang Shan isn't exactly the place to be, but it is a great access point to many neat areas nearby. Seeing Nan Hou (the park) was nice, and I need more outtings like that. I should go check out the mini-mountain to the north of the school at some point, maybe on a day with less humidity and a breeze. It's quite a climb. It would give me a sense of doing something different.
Anyway... I need to dispel this feeling of waiting. To do so, I have to be doing. Most of this bleh sentiment comes from the fact that I arrived in a busy period, and now things have slacked off and I have no clue what to do with myself. I have a few classes during the weekdays, and a few at the weekends, but I'm not doing 30 hours a week at this point. Closer to 15-18. If I can't fill in that time with activities or hobbies outside of my apartment, I will slip quickly into a rut and that's what I came here to escape.
Rant over. Time to plan for my VIP this evening. Maybe I'm just having a crap day.
Alright, so the day ended on good notes. My VIP was cool. I have never seen someone so enthusiastic. He wasn't reserved at all, which is what ought to be expected. Most VIPs don't want to talk; they want you to do all the talking while they nod or give one-word responses. This guy stood when I came in, greeted me as best he could, and for the rest of the lesson he said everything I said, trying to assimilate it. He learned quite quickly, and it was neat to watch him scrawl English words on the scrap sheet I gave him. He'd think in Chinese, then write the word in English on the sheet and try to communicate what he meant. He absorbed quite a bit, and would follow me to the board if I was trying to draw something or explain an idea/concept. He just amazed me. Though his skill is considered Basic, his earnestness and willingness to progress was staggering. He just rejuvenated my own enthusiasm and overall regard for the human spirit.
Then I had a funny/cute bus incident on the way home. I was standing near the rear door, as per usual (I'd rather stand than sit), and a seat opened, so I said "Ni hao?" to a young woman standing near me and gestured to it. She shook her head vigorously and said "No, you" (or maybe "thank you") and pointed to it. I laughed and said, "Bu, bu. Ni." and pointed to it again. She went bright red and again waved her hands at it for me to sit. Well, she went as red as she could, I guess. So neither of us sat. Then the seat behind it opened up and she looked at me and grinned shyly. She continued to track me for the rest of the bus-ride, staring quickly away when I caught her doing it, and smiled when I got off. I gave a nod and a wave, and off I went. It was just one of those moments when everyone around you loses that faceless quality and I could see the individuals. See the trees for all the forest, per se.
Strange what a difference a few hours makes.
WTF?! Kelly just sent me this! Words can't describe.