ispeakshellfish (ispeakshellfish) wrote,

i can understand chinese!

and that's an exciting feeling. as i was walking here i heard two people debating (in chinese) whether i was american or english. i wanted to say something but i didn't. everyone here automatically assumes i can't speak the language, and when they find out i can they are suprised. example: today my afternoon teacher invited us over to her house to see her recent wedding photos and wedding dvd. in the cab there i was talking with her (in chinese), and the driver was really surprised. i could see his eyes in the rear view mirror because he kept looking at me. i've been told by a few native chinese that my chinese is good, and it's strange because i'm not sure how to respond. in china, when someone complements you, it's rude to say 'thank you.' instead they say 'nali' which means "where?" so that you demure instead of acknowledging that on which they are complementing you. but waiguoren (foreigners) always say 'thank you,' so should i be a waiguoren or a chinese person? is this a when in rome situation?
my teacher's wedding photos were incredible. she and her husband are really cute, but boy is a wedding complicated here! her wedding lasted literally ALL day. so tiring. and her wedding portraits! here you get them done before you get married, and you wear many borrowed clothes from the company, and my teacher said she spent 12 hours getting the photos done. i can barely stand 12 seconds to get one picture taken! all i could think was, boy, her husband is a sport!
then she and her husband took us out to dinner at a small neighborhood restaurant, and it was SO good, i just kept eating and eating.
but i've really been craving non-chinese food. like bread. they don't have bread here. i've also been thinking about cinnamon rolls, the grilled vegetable saandwich from soma, butternut squash, non-oily anything, and, of course, ethiopian plates of wonder. mmmm.
last night three of my friends and i went out to a jazz bar. it made me realize how stupid the 21 drinking age is, because in america, i can't do that. i didn't drink, because i don't really like that sort of thing, but the jazz was really good. we were definitely the youngest ones in the club, though, and i've never felt so simultaneously old and young.
this afternoon our professors let us skip class to go sing karaoke. it was pretty fun, but it was a private room so i just sang along without a mic. i was surprised though, because everyone's been saying that they want to go karaoke-ing, but no one really got into it. whatever. i got to sing jay chou. that's all that matters.
monday we took a day trip to suzhou, which is famous for its gardens. it was pretty, but we didn't really spend much time there, and we spent the afternoon shopping at a commercial shopping area geared for tourists who want to shop for kitschy chinese souvenirs or american-like products. i was not happy when my friends went looking at shoes, so i went off on my own.
on friday i went to the shanghai museum, and there was a gemstone exhibit. i thought of rachel the whole time. sadly, no pictures were allowed.
friday we're going to see an acrobatics show. fun!
time to go. soon i'm going out to te bund with my friends and some uva students, then perhaps a jazz club again and then a club. night night!
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