With a constant heat index of over 100 degrees (today it is 117), it is hard to survive when you’re not used to it. I find myself sleeping in as late as possible, just to avoid the first half of the day. It’s safe to say that my depression has been triggered here-- between the heat, the fatigue, and loss of appetite that the heat brings with it. I am not someone who gets hot easily, but here it’s impossible to walk outside for even 5 minutes without your clothes being totally drenched in sweat. That being said, every time I eat here, I feel extremely ill. My New England body is not used to digesting food in such conditions.
It’s just not the same. I have survived off of Snickers for breakfast, black tea to keep me awake, white rice, and eggplant. #help
So when I was younger, Fitz always told me it was considered a crime to spit in China. This made me not spit along with the other girls on my softball team when I was in middle school. I was really looking forward to that law in China. However, in 2016, this it's a norm for people to spit whatever is stuck in their throat, wherever they want to spit it. (Insert gag-reflex here…)
Rude. Because I was banished to another “school” with another teacher on this trip, we have to take a cab to and from work every day. Most days it takes us about 3 or 4 cabs before we finally get someone to take us… and that doesn’t count all of the ones who look at us and just keep going. On top of this, being in a cab can actually be scary. Sometimes you can be halfway to your destination and realise that the meter hasn’t been running… if your normal trip costs 18, the driver might say “45” and lock you in until you pay it.
In the U.S., if you push someone, you’re likely going to get into a fist fight. Here, there's no such thing as “orderly lines” or “waiting your turn.” I realised this first on my connection flight in Beijing, having people literally stepping on me as I sat in my seat. Then, my first time finding a fruit market (with such excitement), I waited to pay for my oranges and bananas, only to have a woman come up from behind me and put her things on the counter to be rung up. #notafan
So this is something that women cringe under in the U.S. daily. You first learn "it’s not polite to stare" as a kid, when your mom catches you staring at someone you’re not used to seeing. Then you learn it at the mall or walking down the street when you start to develop and older men stare at your body. But it’s not the “norm.” It’s just something we grow up fearing. Here in China, it seems like its okay to stare. Men do it and smile creepily at you. Women do it as if you don’t belong here. Children do it more innocently, but their parents encourage it rather than discourage it. Maybe it’s Hangzhou, maybe it’s China. Either way, I don’t like it.
Mandarin is a harsh language. It’s hard to get used to the volume of it as a foreigner. It just sounds like everyone is angry and yelling at each other all time time if you can’t understand it.
Get ready to “pop a squat.” Yeah—- no thanks. It’s one thing when you’re camping in the woods and there isn’t a porter-potty anywhere near your campsite. At least the Earth soaks it up. It’s a totally different thing (which I could never get used to) when there’s a public, fibreglass floor with a drain... that doesn’t soak up anything.
Lack of Professionalism
This might be this school in Hangzhou being a terrible business with careless leaders. But needless to say… I’m never coming back. Or recommending it. Ever.
- This is more of a tie-in to #9. It might be this terrible school, or it might be cultural and I’m not used to it. Either way, it was not fun to arrive in a foreign country, alone, and be told the night before I start working that I’m being moved to a hotel away from all the other Americans— to a camp, not a school—- that’s not affiliated with the program I was hired to.
- I was told my students would speak English and it would be like teaching English at my school at home... this is a bilingual school. One student out of about 16 speaks pretty good English. One is okay, but is older than all the rest of the kids, so he doesn’t come back. The rest have close to none. ... I may never sing “You Are My Sunshine Again…”
- Then there’s the money thing. I was banking on $XXXX for my salary by the end of this trip. Granted, it’s a lot more money than I get paid at home, but it was a number I was told and I signed for. But nothing here is binding. The law is different. They shorted me $200. Sure, $200 doesn't seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but when you only have 2 years of savings under your belt, $200 could have been your groceries. It could have been a chunk of your rent. It could have been the rest of your bills for a month. Screw this program.
I’m sorry for anyone who has read this blog from home and become worried. It’s been a very hard trip. I am grateful for the sites that I have seen and the incredible teachers I have met, all from Massachusetts, who I can look to as mentors. Tonight I will go to Shanghai with two of them, and hopefully will have some better news to report. But for now, I’m just really looking forward to coming home. Sometimes you just need to vent.