Week in Review

This past week lacked adventure, but made up for it in the fact that it was the final week of oral exams. I now only have one listening exam, grading, and paperwork that stands between me and my summer.

Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday were filled with exams (I am going to do a concise round-up of topics and the like soon). I gave my last lecture, on Tuesday, at the Medical & Military University. Instead of presenting cinema to them, we had free talk for an hour and a half. Free talk graced the corners of everything from politics, language, film, media, books, TV shows to marriage & dating. It was interesting to say the least…

Thursday I had my final Chinese class. I’d like to focus on my self-study methods this summer and then resume with my teacher in the fall. I attempted to go to this, as John puts it, trendy bookstore for a journal or two. I was looking for something with a moleskine-esque vibe. When I arrived, there was no electricity so I was barred from entering. I was at least happy that I understood every word the employee said to me, and that I was able to produce an audible response.

On Friday, I spent the better part of the morning exercising at the gym, just me, myself, and I. Later, I joined Mike at the 师大 (Shaanxi Normal University) swimming pool. The feeling of jumping into a pool on a 35 degree day (95 degrees Fahrenheit) is indescribable. Additionally, the pool was clean, not over-chlorinated, and not excessively crowded. I wasn’t able to swim in the deep end, as you must take a swimming test in order to do so. The entrance fee is 15 RMB, or 120 RMB for 10x. You must also put down a 10 RMB locker key deposit. In the evening, in honor of two former XISU teachers who were getting married in Switzerland, Chris arranged a dinner at the Buddhist Vegetarian Restaurant; it’s around the corner from Delhi Darbar. This place has fake sausages that would certainly make it worth your while to take the plunge and become a vegetarian. Nevertheless, I’ll stick to being a meat eater and enjoying the fake sausages once in awhile. After dinner, we headed for the Village Cafe for dessert. I had an enlightening conversation with Amar, a former XISU teacher and graduate of XISU’s Confucius Institute. Our conversation spanned inter-cultural relationships, Chinese learning, and teaching. I’m really grateful when I can have such meaningful conversations with someone who gets it (this is mostly in terms of the experience of living in China, interpersonal relationships and cross-cultural dating).

I embraced my inner Mom on Saturday. I went to the gym in the morning with Sara and spent most of the afternoon tidying up and cleaning. I can tell you, with great assurance, that I have never perspired so much in my life as I did that afternoon. After what can only be described as a delightful shower, Sara asked me to join her for coffee. We’ve done this on a somewhat regular basis. She’ll invite me over for a cup of Lavazza, Italian espresso. We’ll also enjoy biscuits with jam. I think it’s safe to say, I’ve somewhat embraced my far-removed European roots. Sara and I then went to get our nails done and make a quick run to Vanguard. In the evening, I hosted another Movie Night. We watched The Artist, the critically acclaimed homage to silent films. I liked the films’ progression; it gives you a condensed version of American film history.

My Sunday was peppered with a whole lot of waiting and then a great deal of entertainment in the evening. I spent the better part of the morning making my very first Challah. This was in preparation for the Cultural Dinner. Here’s John’s explanation:

As this academic school year comes to a close, and we are forced to say goodbye to those who are leaving, either for the summer or for longer, I would be remiss not to try and organize an old XISU tradition: The Cultural Dinner.

Originally, the brainchild of Puii and Chris, the Cultural Dinner served as a way to share our cultures and, more importantly, introduce each other to strange and delicious foods. The idea is simple: Consider your culture, your country, your specific region, your family, and choose a food (or foods) that best represent those things for you. It is a bit like a ‘pot luck dinner’ … you bring what you want and we’ll trust that there will be enough variety to constitute an entire meal.

(Please bring stories, as well. And possibly music. The aim of the Cultural Dinner is, after all, to share your culture and learn about others.)

This year, I propose we have a Cultural Soiree. A picnic at the Rose Garden, near the dilapidated pingpong table. (It will be nicer than it sounds.) So, if you are interested and you have the time, let’s aim for 2 o’clock Sunday afternoon (24 June). I hope to see everyone there, so please spread the word just in case I miss somebody’s email.

The Soiree ended up being a dinner as the time was changed to 7. Sara and I went to the gym and then headed over to Chris & John’s. We did end up out in the rose garden and there was plenty of food and drinks for all. Before eating, there was an explanation given by each teacher about the dish. The evening came and went rather quickly. Many teachers were contemplating whether they would stay up and watch the England-Italy football game. The Cultural Dinner added a finality to an already successful and adventurous academic year.

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