Jul 2, 2010

China Days

Everybody has "China Days"...That's what a new friend of ours said the other night. He told me that my span of every 3 to 4 days is actually pretty good for only being here a month. His wife had them everyday when they first arrive over a year ago.

So what is a China Day? I think it's pretty much a given...it's when you think to yourself I just can't do it anymore, I'm going crazy!

Let me give you a few examples of typical occurrences that cause foreigners to have such days:

The humid heat...and the fact that there is no way to get around it because if you have to go somewhere, you have to deal with it (because most likely you don't have a car).

When it rains for days upon days, and you have no clean clothes because if you wash them, how will you dry them?

Mold. Everywhere.

Weird smells that hit you without warning, as well as mysterious liquids that come from above.

Pushing, shoving, and line cutting

I won't continue, because I am trying to avoid any triggers that cause a China Day. But I tell you this because yesterday was definitely the worst.

The heat has been steadily rising, and my body screams at me from the inside out. Forget the fact that I look terrible, I've already gotten over that. I started teaching English yesterday, and I had thought- piece of cake, I just have to chat with some kid and I will get paid $25 an hour for it. Instead I found myself thrown into something that I realized I had no idea how to do, no idea how to make lesson plans for "chatting", and feeling loads of pressure because "if his English doesn't improve in 2 weeks, his Father will demand a refund."

So now I am teaching a 17 year old kid for 4 hours a day, 5 days a week. Actually, I feel worse for him than myself...4 hours of workbooks, silly games, and talking everyday. I don't know how I'm going to keep us both from getting bored to death. Today was a little better, but yesterday I really felt like crying. I went home to pout and be bitter about everything.

No sympathy, no chastisement, no encouragement can make a China Day any better.

Just let the storm pass through.

So far my consensus is that yes, every foreigner living in China has China Days. It's not because life is hard- anybody can tough it out, deal with it, or get used to it.

You're a fish out of water, and sometimes it's hard to breathe.

SO...on a more optimistic note, there are some things that keep me happy.

Like these ladies. We're all sailing on the same ship, and boy is it nice to have others I can talk to who all understand. We are each so different, but our circumstances in life are unbelievably similar, and we need each other. We venture out and conquer China together.

I also have been taking a traditional Chinese Calligraphy/Painting class, where I learn to paint Chinese characters, pretty fish, and such with techniques very new to me.
Don't judge me- I'm a beginner.

The class is full of middle-aged women from all over the world, and I love it. Mr Chen the teacher is a riot, and it just feels good to be something I enjoy.

Woody brings laughter to everyday.

And of course, Taylor loves me like I need him to.


  1. Hey Jod! You are such a great artist. I'm really glad you've found a creative outlet over there. I'm hoping we have a whole lot of China days while we're there visiting. Then we'll have much more empathy for you and at least we can laugh about all the ridiculous things that we encounter. Instead of a gratitude book, you should be keeping a "really? did that have to happen today among all the other ridiculously crazy China experiences I'm already having" book. It'd be awesome to look back at someday.

  2. Hang in there Jod. You are amazing. Just an idea for your student, when Aaron and I were in Peru our 4 hour classes were broken up into 2 hours of grammer/workbook stuff and then 2 hours of getting out into the city and just talking. It was kind of nice we went out one day to the market and worked on food/colors/money etc. Another day we went to the zoo and did animals. It was a really nice way to break it up and didn't require as much advanced planning. On the down side it would require you to get out of the house and into the heat...so there is that. But it's an idea.

  3. Yahoo, I found your blog and I'm adding it to my bloglist. I am so glad you are here Jodi and I wish that you were staying longer or that I got to go home in a few weeks like you!

  4. This is making you an even more amazing person then you already are. Keep it up! beautiful fish by the way.