May 25, 2010
The Beginning of an Adventure
"My feet look like blimps" was the first thing I said to Taylor upon arrival to Shanghai. After 15 hours, 3 meals, and 2 movies (can you believe I only watched 2??) in the air, my feet were so swollen they could barely fit in my shoes. But I was ready to confidently step off of that airplane- I brought everything I needed in one giant suitcase and a duffel bag (including 2 jars of peanut butter, snickers, and goldfish for those days I just need it), I had my tetanus and hepatitis A shots, and a positive attitude- what more did I need? Okay, so I didn't learn a lick of Chinese and that would probably help. But it didn't matter, I was here ready or not.
We jumped in a taxi and I remembered how nice it is that Taylor can speak some Chinese. As we drove through the city, I could barely keep my eyes open, but I was seeing all of the colorful lights that makes it look, as Taylor says, other worldly. The buildings were flashing, the bridges were lit up, freeways had bright blue light shining from their undersides, and all I could think about was crawling into a bed.
The taxi dropped us off and as we were dragging our bags to find the house, my thoughts were jumping between wondering what on earth we were doing going to some complete stranger's home, and not caring about anything in the world. I was so tired. We rang the doorbell, and this old man came out to greet us. He smiled and gestured, but didn't say anything. All I was thinking was, He's way older than I thought and doesn't he speak some English?
As a side note, it is very popular for the Chinese to choose American names like Jackie Chan, and Bruce Lee...much easier to remember than Chang Kong-sang and Lee Jun Fan right?
So anyway, 'Michael' showed up on his bicycle and we were glad because he is the friend that speaks English quite well.
"This is 'Woody's' father, Woody had to go out to sing karaoke with very important friends" Michael informed us, which made me glad. No offense to old Chinese men.
He showed us around the lovely little home, and then kindly offered to take us to the store where we could buy some towels and food for breakfast. I stayed behind and flopped on the bed, lingering between a much desired sleep and a consciousness filled with very loud Chinese television.
We went to bed around 10, but I didn't fall asleep for hours. My short sleep was filled with anxious and incoherent dreams about offending the Chinese culture, and by 4 or 5 there was no more sleeping to be had. After laying there for a few hours I had to pee, but for fear of running into my host in such a dreadful state, I stayed in bed. All I could think about was how awkward I felt, so out of my element, and not sure what I would do with myself for 10 weeks.
The day did get better, and we did finally meet Woody during breakfast and it was delightful. He is a 40 year old who looks and seems younger than 30, who speaks basic English and works somewhere between construction and civil engineering- we're still trying to figure that out.
Taylor sent out a few emails for me to people who are looking for English teachers/tutors. Two have replied and would like to meet me for an interview...