When you’re away from home, small things play large. Some of you will recognize my feelings about fruit. Yes, fruit. I like my apples crisp, won’t eat them if they are soft. Plums are unpredictable; I avoid them. In my world, bananas have a very narrow shelf life: I wont’ eat them if they are too soft and spotty. In China, most bananas are sold well past their prime. Imagine my excitement then, when Geoff came home with a bunch of green bananas! Apparently the shop keeper thought he was quite mad in choosing them and tried to call him off the purchase. I ate two today, I’m so happy. It’s been awhile.
It’s strange but we’re eating things here we would never eat at home. Ramen noodles come to mind. We know they are full of fat and have very little nutritive value, but every week we doctor up a package with veggies and a bit of meat and call it dinner. As I write this, I’m eating hors d’oerves of tomato-flavoured potato chips. Last night it was shrimp flavour. When do I ever eat chips? Never is when.
To mix metaphors, and change the subject, the pace of play at school is not what I am used to. For example, I cannot imagine starting a school year without a school calendar. Here, the calendar is generated for half the year at a time and the holiday times for school children and staff is set by local government, which is also true in BC except that anyone can go on the net and see all the important province-wide dates for the next 5 years. Here, each province is different. Again, not so different from Canada except that our province here is only 60 miles away from Shanghai but has different dates for school start-up and holidays. In the first few weeks we got the schedule for the first half of the year, which had the start of the winter holiday but not the end. We got the end date yesterday but it had changed again today; I advised staff members to let friends know when to book flights for visits.
We met the parents this afternoon, which was fun. Even in the first few weeks of grade 10 they are focused on marks needed for university entrance at some “famous universities.” Might I say they are way more focused than their grade 10 students! We have our work cut out for us as the students do not have a good grasp of English and all of us, teachers and students, will have to work hard to achieve fluency–the main goal of our program; that, and getting in to North American universities. I’ve checked the costs for International students and it is very dear. Not sure if our families can afford them but this much is clear, the parents and this school want very much for the kids to have a broader experience and foundation of knowledge which they trust will help them to be globally aware citizens.
I have only begun to process the time things take to happen and am glad this has happened early on in our stay. We have a lot of lead time right now, so if I can anticipate most things, I should be able to manage. It will be only the surprises that cause stress. We have learned quite a bit about how things work and that decisions may change many times before they are settled. That in itself will prevent surprise.
Tomorrow after school is a teachers’ basketball game. Basketball is hugely popular here, so we’ve heard, so it’s bound to be loud! Just like every Canadian school I’ve ever been in! Looking forward to it.
- One thing I have noticed here is how much the Chinese people are alike to our southern neighbours. They are a very patriotic nation and view the world with much the same perspective in terms of their role in the world community. Their awareness of others is also very similar. Very interesting.
- Today I went back to do more Walmart shopping – but on the way saw a woman locking up her scooter. Her small child was with her. How would you like this as the car seat for your grand-daughter? Although I didn’t see it in action, I would assume (after seeing other mothers on scooters) that it would sit on the seat behind her while she drives.