Sunday, March 9, 2008

Busy? Nah.

I never thought I'd say this, but life in Zhanjiang is beginning to seem quite tame and even a bit boring! A big change from the frantic stress I usually felt last semester, and one that sometimes makes it difficult to find subjects for journal entries. The past couple weeks, I've been keeping not-so-busy with lesson planning, visiting the gym, studying Chinese, sleeping a little too much, shuttling around town running errands, celebrating Scott's birthday, and watching lots of movies. What else have I been up to? Here are a few things that you may find slightly interesting:

Learning idioms in class-
Last week, I taught my college students some common figures of speech: "cold feet," "kill two birds with one stone," "gung-ho," "birthday suit," and "make a mountain out of molehill." "Suck-up" also popped into my head unexpectedly when one of the students felt the need to suddenly exclaim, "Janet, you are SO BEAUTIFUL!" in the middle of the lesson, and I added that one to the list. I had the girls guess what they thought each phrase meant, and then explained the meanings and had them create skits centered around each idiom. It was a fun lesson, and the girls really got into the acting part. The favorite was "make a mountain out of the molehill," which most of them acted out as an overly concerned mother forcing her daughter to the hospital because of a small injury, like a papercut. "Mom, stop making a mountain out of a molehill!"

Sampling corn- flavored ice cream- Saturday night, I came across an ice cream bar shaped and textured like corn on the cob. How could I pass that up? Upon chewing my first very tentative bite, I discovered that the ice cream also tasted just like corn, and left a disturbing after taste which continues to linger 24 hours later. Disturbing...

Visiting the dentist- Despite the horror stories about Chinese dentists, a minor problem with a post-braces wire forced me to venture where at most very few Americans have before: the Chinese dentist. Actually, it was safer than it sounds because this one was recommended to me by my Dad, who toured Dr. Liu's office during Dad's visit to Zhanjiang in November. Things were fixed up in no time and I wasn't even charged... unless you count the repeated requests to tutor his daughter in English. Or the giant photo-shoot with Dr. Liu, his wife, and the entire office staff in every imaginable combination. Free advertising?

Listening to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" in class- My high school students especially enjoy listening to English songs in class. It's a fun way to practice English and gives them something to put on their MP3 players, which many of them have. I make up worksheets with fill in the blanks, mixed-up phrases, etc. and have them complete the paper while listening to the songs. Normally it takes at least three replays for everybody to finish. Favorite groups so far include 'N'Sync, Backstreet Boys, Bryan Adams, JoJo, and other similar "artists" who were big back home maybe ten years ago (if at all). Tired of corny, sappy ballads, last week I decided to mix things up a bit with some good old Cyndi Lauper. Not a hit. The students' faces were murderous throughout the whole thing; some of them even removed their headphones and refused to listen any longer. I'll stick with boy bands from now on...

Singing "Hey Jude" at KTV karaoke bar- (self-explanatory)

Lying in my hammock- Back in September, I found a hammock at TrustMart. Six months later, my "engineering brain" finally figured out a way to hang it on the back porch. I'm only about two inches off the ground, but it's okay because that means my peasant friends behind the apartment can't spy on me lounging outside. With the great weather we've been having here, the hammock is proving a great spot to study some Chinese and read. And relax. Some more.

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