7/11 – Buddhist Temple

Day Nineteen – Tuesday, July 11

Wow. All I can say about today is that it surely was “a day.” Don’t take this in a bad way – today was probably one of the most entertaining days of school yet!

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Class 2 (I’m 2nd row, 3rd column)

This morning’s classes were honestly hysterical. I think it was a mixture of our exhaustion and our closer relationships with the TAs, but classes today were definitely on the funny, less focused side. First up was this morning, when Matthew let Katie and I do his hair. He has incredibly long (longer than me) and luscious hair, and Katie and I have been asking to do it for a couple days before he finally said yes today. We gave him two French braid pigtails, and he wore them around all day! Another “moment” from this morning was when our teacher said “read after me” and everyone did except for one student, who was completely saying his own things and didn’t even realize when everyone else had stopped talking. Later, our teacher got sidetracked and asked us to all share a hand gesture/signal that we know in America. Most people did normal ones like peace signs” and “hang loose,” but some did really weird, random stuff. Matthew showed us all a hand gesture that we agreed only he did; he bends all his fingers in but his pointer. He said this represents that even if everyone else bows down to the Qing dynasty, one person can form the resistance – I don’t know why he decided to show that as a “popular American hand gesture”… Someone else showed the “pinky swear,” and our teacher with one of the TAs showed us an extended version of it that girls do in China. When we started laughing (because the TA was definitely uncomfortable), our teacher blurted out something along the lines of “don’t worry, it’s not lesbian.” I’ve realized, most of China does not have a “filter” as we would expect in America, which honestly makes for English conversations with native Chinese all the more entertaining.

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At the end of the day, our TAs told us to practice writing our new characters from the day. During this time, we asked Kaylie, one of the TAs, to draw a caricature of each of us on the board. This produced numerous laughs, as she did capture people’s emotions/looks pretty accurately! Today’s classes were definitely the most entertaining classes I’ve attended (in China or US) in a long time.

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After school, a bunch of us decided to stop at Pu Tou Temple for some sightseeing. This is a large Buddhist temple conveniently located on my bus route home, so I decided to go along with them. The views of the old temple were breathtaking, and the smells of incense and sounds of monks praying created a very tranquil atmosphere. I’ve always admired Buddhism and like its teachings, so being able to visit an old, preserved temple that is still used today was truly a cultural experience I will never forget. Going inside some of the rooms that are specifically for praying was a one-of-a-kind experience. As soon as you step in, you feel like you go into a bubble. The smells of incense are so strong, there is very light music in the background, and there is a large alter in front of a giant, golden Buddha statue. I really enjoyed visiting and want to go again with my language partner so she can explain some of the signs to me!

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From the temple, I went to the gym for a quick workout before coming home for dinner. Today marks the halfway point of the program (including the NY PDO). While I’ve definitely had my ups and downs, today I feel like my Chinese skills and cultural experiences hit a major peak. I don’t know how I feel about this being halfway… I miss home a little but I don’t want to leave here at all!