So I've been back in China for about a week and a half now and getting back into the swing of things here.
Last week I was working part time at a place called "WEB International English." It's basically a private school, and they have offices in cities all over China. I had been working for them part-time since last semester, but at that time, it was maybe one extra hour a week. This last week however they had me working every evening from 6-9pm straight. I have to say that's not my most preferred schedule in the world, but I also just kind of dealt with it since it was only last week, and these next 2 weeks I will be gone travelling.
It has been fairly hot here since I arrived, and when I would go to WEB, I would ride my bicycle. But when I arrived, my shirt would be soaking wet, especially the back, so each day I brought an extra shirt for me to change into once I arrived.
A couple interesting things have happened in the brief span since I've returned, however. Last week, on Monday I think it was, I was standing at a corner, waiting for the walk signal to light up, and these two girls came up to me and asked "Excuse me, can you tell me where Red Flag Road is?"
Now the interesting thing about this is... In Huzhou, maybe if you're 20+ yards away you can't tell I'm not a Chinese. But if you're standing right next to me, it's pretty clear that I am a foreigner. SO, these girls NOT ONLY decided to ask a FOREIGNER for directions (why they think he would know, I have no clue), but they ALSO asked me in CHINESE! So here they are in a small (relatively) city with few foreigners, and they ask one for directions in Chinese. I really don't understand why they would have thought I could help them, let alone understand them.
The funny thing is, I knew exactly where Red Flag Road was and pointed them in the right direction.
The other interesting thing that had happened is this. In the US, Tampa is very well known. It's not a huge city, it's not a bedazzled city, but at least within the US, Americans all know of Tampa.
However, not too surprisingly, I had never met a Chinese person in China who had heard of Tampa. It works the same way there. There is a city in China called Shao Xing. It's not a large city, there's nothing particularly special about it, but everyone in China has heard of it. But I had never heard of it before coming to China. So it's really just a cultural thing. (Many Chinese have heard of Orlando, but not because of Disney World... because of the Orlando Magic, they are NBA crazy out here.)
BUT, this last week, while I was teaching at WEB, the "never met" changed to "ever met." I was teaching a small class of business intermediate students (by small I mean 2 students). One of the students was a man about age 40. In the last 5 minutes of class I asked them if they had any questions about the lesson, or since this was the first time we had met, if they had any questions about me. They asked me where I was from, and I said "America, Florida." The man then asked me, "What city in Florida?" And I said, "maybe you guys haven't heard of it but, Tampa." With a laugh he slammed his hand on the table and told me that he had actually lived in Tampa for 3 years working at a Chinese restaurant. He couldn't remember the name of the restaurant, but in any case, I've finally met a Chinese person in China who knows about Tampa.
Ok well, I'm off now. I will now be leaving to go fetch my aunt and uncle and their two daughters from the airport, as they will be arriving in just a few hours. We're going to travel to Beijing and Xi'An, finishing the travel next Friday, the 31st. Here's hoping we have a smooth trip!