Friday, December 14, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

Being the first one spent in a foreign country- and not just any foreign country, but CHINA of all places- I wasn't sure how my birthday on Monday would turn out... but it ended up being one of the best ever! I've never in my life received so much attention and so many well wishes on my birthday. I received about 30 texts and at least 20 gifts from students and other teachers. Everywhere I went on campus, people waved furiously and shouted, "Happy Birthday, ____ (insert different renditions of my name, such as "Jenny," "Janna," and sometimes "Janet")! It really made it a great day.

That night, a big group of foreign teachers and Ruth all went out to the Western Coffeehouse restaurant that has become our favorite. The food there is fairly authentic: you can get a nice steak or pork chops that taste similar to something from a restaurant at home. Jamie, our resident entertainer, played Christmas songs and Happy Birthday on the restaurant's piano.

The big surprise came at the end, when the waitresses brought out a gigantic cake that Ruth had picked out at a local bakery. It was beautiful, and like nothing I've ever seen before! The bottom layer was green and white striped and topped by a sort of pink dome covered in huge pink and white roses. Ruth said she'd had to choose between a Chinese and "European- style" cake, and this was what she ended up with when she selected the latter. After the significant job of cutting the beast was over with and all eleven of us had been served gigantic pieces, there was still about half of it left over. After dinner, Scott and I returned to campus and called one of the students, who was happy to take the lovely cake off our hands and share with her ten roommates.

Even though by that time it was ten o'clock, the celebration wasn't over. My doorbell rang for about an hour and a half, in a steady flow of students and other teachers bringing me gifts. By the end of the night, my kitchen table was covered in gift bags! What a unique and special day!

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