Saturday, September 18, 2010

Meeting the New Students

The weekend was a good one when we finally got the internet connected at the apartment, and we were able to give our families a Skype tour of the whole place. We found a large grocery store much closer than Carrefour, so that will be useful, and we tried our first pizza delivery. It was delivered by bicycle and the toppings all slid to one side during the ride, but once we got everything shoveled back into place, it was "not bad," which is a popular way for Westerners to describe things, especially food related things, in China. "How was the new noodle shop?" "Not bad." We are hoping to find the places that are maybe a little better than "not bad."

The new students are definitely above the food standard. They are energetic (especially the first and second graders!), bright, and very cute. We have a lot of Asian and American students, but also a strong contingent of Swedish and Dutch. One of my first graders speaks nothing but Dutch and has no Dutch speakers in his classroom, so he is really operating under the sink-or-swim method. The kids had a great time laughing at me as I tried to pronounce their names, and many of the Asian students were quick to offer their Western names instead. I have a lovely fifth grader from Germany, so I asked him to say my last name over and over because it sounds so great when he says it. Each class is just under twenty students and I have fifteen classes, so the week stays very busy, but I managed to be in the right place at the right time.

Joe's office is really a work in progress. He has no furniture except a chair, no phone, and (horror), no air conditioning. He has the A/C control pad, but the office is a fairly recent partition of the building, so they forgot to include a vent in the ceiling, but the powers that be assure him it will be done soon. We celebrated our first week with a couple of dining forays, first to a burger place that offers burgers and drinks at two-for-one on Mondays, then to a neighborhood place called Casa Rosita which has absolutely no Mexican food, but we loved the Chinese food anyway (far above "not bad" so hooray). They put us in the front window table so the rest of the 'hood could see the Westerners eating there, and they played some Western pop music ("Barbie Girl" and various Michael Jackson tunes) so we would feel right at home. For those who wonder what one eats at a Chinese restaurant with a Mexican name, I had a Taiwanese fried pork chop and green beans fried with as much bacon product as possible. Joe had kung pao chicken and pork fried rice, although we skipped the pork parts, as they were somewhat wormlike in appearance. Just the same, we'll be back.

We had a tough Friday night because our internet was down when we got home. Joe did some fiddling and got it back, so he left to meet some friends, but was back shortly because he couldn't find a taxi. The internet had gone down again, so we watched some NCIS and went to bed. We have bought a few movie DVDs and decided to try a TV series. We got the entire set, all six seasons, for the low low price of 40 RMB, which comes out to about $7.75 US. Many of the titles are very recent (even some movies still in US theaters) and the quality is, you know, not bad.

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