Friday, July 21, 2006

A night with the girls

Yesterday five of us went "home" with two of our TA's, Sunny (mine) and Maggie (my favorite bubbly TA). They go to a University outside of Shaoxing and it took us an hour and a half on the bus to get to a very institutional campus (of course, we ooohed and aahhhed over it, they were so proud to have guests...)(there is one really cool look up to the hill behind campus and there is a HUGE winged creature up there. Sunny says he holds back the floods from Shaoxing. We asked if we could go up there to see him and his pagoda and they said, yes, it's only a few hours' walk! which would kill me in this heat!)

After an hour of walking around their stark campus, Sunny took us to her dorm room. When we walked in I thought, oh, this is about the same size as dorm rooms in the US...and then we counted the beds - one, two three four five SIX! Six people to a room that would fit two Americans, each person with a four by six cubicle for clothes and books! Each bed had a bamboo mat on it and on top of the cupboards were bags filled with bedding. No air conditioning, only fans. Well, after this long hot journey, three of the others decided to go home but Amy and I felt really badly because Sunny and Maggie had told three of their friends about the American teachers coming and had wanted to take us to dinner, so we decided to stay, drenched with sweat as we were, so that we could honor them and meet their friends.

It turned out to be a lovely night; I especially liked one of Sunny's friends, Annie (they all named themselves English names when they got to college). So the five of them took Amy and me to dinner in this little dirty looking place where we were seated in a private room and where the girls ordered us a feast...DELICIOUS! Annie was telling us all of the good qualities of each dish...eggs make you beautiful, fish makes you smart and tofu is good for your skin. They ordered the regional specialty, which was fish soup made with preserved cabbage. They were so gracious to us and oh boy do they think everything we say is funny! Five times the owner of the restaurant came in to tell us to be quiet, but those girls were so loud and giggly! They secretly paid for our dinner and we think they spent a week's salary on us, but they couldn't have been more happy about it. Amy and I agreed that we made the right choice to stay...what a great night.

A note about the heat. It is hard hard hard for me. If I had known how hard I would not have come. I am learning to just live with constant sweat, but I dream often about Seattle air and temperature and I'm sure when I return I will only have the good memories and will appreciate what I have one million times more!

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