December Xiananigans

It’s finally the end of this term! I have one more week of exams and then Deanna will arrive NEXT THURSDAY! I am really looking forward to her arrival.


Our travel itinerary is quite jam-packed with adventures, especially train adventures. We have one or two long train rides ahead of us, but I think we can manage. 

The cities we intend to visit are as follows: 
Chengdu (Pandas!)
Lijiang (the Naxi, a minority group in China, live here)
Kunming (capital of Yunnan province (In Chinese, Yunnan means South Cloud))
Wuhan (a 1 day train ride from Kunming, but alleviates the long train ride to Nanjing)
Nanjing (where the Nanking massacre took place during WWII…there is a noteworthy museum/memorial we will visit)
Shanghai (the Paris of the East)
Hangzhou (a famous Chinese saying states that “Heaven above, Suzhou and Hangzhou below” due to their unequivocal beauty)
Beijing (the big man on campus)

I haven’t done much else besides preparing classes, exams, grades, end-of-semester paperwork, finishing up tutoring, planning Deanna and I’s trip, cooking and spending time with Linda, occasionally spending time with Jason, and going to the gym with Sara. 

As the holidays are upon us, (Happy Hanukkah to my fellow Jews!) there are a myriad of celebrations this weekend. 

First, I am hosting a Hanukkah potluck dinner with Linda. We’ll enjoy homemade latkes and sufganiyot. The other guests are bringing soup, chili, bread, an assortment of desserts, and a vegetable dish. There will be about seventeen of us. I even decorated the apartment for the occasion. I purchased blue and silver tinsel as Christmas decorations are readily available here in Xi’an and throughout China. Christmas or should I say Chinese Christmas is catching on, except the idea of celebrating here is going downtown, walking around, and wearing devil horns or masks. 

Second, on Saturday, after a day I expect to be filled with grading and 很麻烦 (Chinese way to say “too much trouble equating to unhappiness”), I will go to the new campus to have Jewish Christmas with some former students of mine. I just recently found out, one of the girls I was close to last year, enlisted in the army and is being sent to Shenyang, a city in Northern China, not far from the Korean border. I was very surprised by this news because her English is quite good. I guess I will have to try to sneak in watching one of my numerous pirated DVD’s to really be able to call my day Jewish Christmas. 

Why not celebrate Jewish Christmas on the actual festival itself? Well, that would be because I already have other plans. Linda will be hosting a Christmas dinner at my apartment. There will be German, Chinese, and Americans in attendance. I believe she is making some German fare, but Linda is an amazing cook so whatever she makes I will be quite pleased (more about that in my next entry). After Linda’s dinner, we will head over to Mike’s for a White Elephant Party. I don’t know if you are familiar with this, but every partygoer brings a gift, preferably something inexpensive, or tacky, possibly ugly, maybe useless, but definitely interesting or entertaining. Gifts are exchanged in a fashion that the first person chooses from the pile, then the next person has the choice to take the first person’s gift or one of the remaining gifts from the pile, and so on until everyone has chosen something. Should be interesting… 

After my weekend, it’s back to the grind so to speak. Four days of listening to oral exams, and then Deanna arrives! 

I am also adding some pictures from my most recent Xiananigans. I will try my best to recall some context for them. Bare with me…  
I went to a German corner with Linda and a first-year German student passed me this note during Linda’s presentation. First, don’t you think it’s a bit rude to be passing notes? Second, are we still in middle school? Yes, this clearly attests to Chinese students’ maturity level. If you can’t read the text, let me wet your palate: “You are adorable & beautiful.” This is followed by a very Chinese smiley face. Oh, China and XISU students! 
St. Nikolaus brought me presents. In Germany, children receive presents on December 6th. Parents say they are from St. Nikolaus. It is usually placed in the children’s shoes which are left outside the front door. Linda wanted me to experience some German holiday culture so “St. Nikolaus” took the long journey to China, I imagine first class on Lufthansa, and left me some German treats: gingerbread, chocolate, almond cookies, hot chocolate (it is a hard square of chocolate with a spoon; Linda instructed me that in fact you add it to hot milk and delightedly watch as the chocolate melts into hot chocolatey goodness). There were also some Chinese elements such as the paper-cut figures and the postcard of Beijing scenery. 
Linda and I at Parkqin last weekend. The drink you see can in fact be viewed later on in this entry.
Parkqin. Jason is barely visible choosing tunes. 
Mr. Panda is in fact a drink that merely consists of Bailey’s and milk. Grandma Kowalski would be so proud…  
At a club called Song & Song. Yes, you can buy this bear from this very nice young gentleman. Another  reaffirming point as to the maturity level of Chinese women. Men buy them extremely large stuffed animals to “prove” their love or to in fact prove the size of their wallets. 
Look, I am turning Chinese! This one is for Dad, because he enjoys making this 开玩笑, joke.  
The morning after Linda and I’s night out. I am very happy because as you will see in the following picture, Linda surprised me with breakfast in bed.  
Around 1 in the afternoon, to my surprise, Linda opened the door with a tray full of food: breakfast in bed! German tea, apples and oranges, oat-ginger cookies,  and banana oatmeal infused with Muesli.  
Linda was at Parkqin this past week with some non-XISU friends and she luckily snapped this shot of Jason hard at work. Clearly, he’s not too happy about being captured on film. I know that smirk all too well. 
Linda surprised me with chocolate from her college town of Munster during an especially trying work week. 
A friend of Linda’s gave her this lovely decoration and since Linda spends more time at my apartment, she decided it was worthwhile to leave here. Each animal is representative of one of the twelve Chinese zodiacs. 2012 will be the year of the dragon, my year, although I was recently informed it doesn’t necessarily mean I will have a productive or lucky year, solely because it is the same animal as when I was born.  

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