Day Six – Wednesday, June 28
Today was relatively unexciting as I am starting to fall into a schedule. I woke up, got driven to school, and then started classes. Class is fun because our teacher plays a lot of games, but right now the curriculum we are learning is very easy. Everyone in my class agrees that the lessons are too easy, so we plan to ask the teacher to move to more advanced topics tomorrow. Yet most people in my class still don’t want to level up because there is a huge gap between levels two and three and because we have the best teacher! Everyday, we learn a new idiom and sing a new Chinese song, which I like because not only is it fun, but it is also important cultural knowledge.
This afternoon was our first formal culture class. Each Wednesday afternoon for about 2.5 hours, we learn about a particular facet of Chinese culture. Today, we studied Chinese calligraphy and traditional painting. I have done calligraphy and painting before at home, but I haven’t attempted it recently. We were given practice sheets to test out writing different characters. We then moved on to writing on a formal Chinese scroll – this was extremely nerve wracking because I wanted my scroll to look good! I decided to write my Chinese name (刘天慈) on the scroll. My Liu looked decent, but I kind of messed up the Tian (aka Tien). Since Ci (aka Tze) is very hard to write, I had an instructor come over and write it slowly for me on my practice paper. I copied his exact strokes on my scroll, and to my surprise the result was beautiful! After calligraphy, we were taught some traditional painting styles. While I love the look of traditional Asian paintings, I cannot recreate any of them! I am not super artistic and traditional painting requires a lot of skill, patience, and practice – all of which I am lacking in!
After school, I went straight home to eat dinner. Our culture class ran really long (until 5:15 instead of the scheduled 4:30), so my busses hit major rush hour traffic. My normal bus commute of 40 minutes turned out to be about 80 minutes! After a delicious dinner of spicy chicken, my mouth was on fire! While I love spicy food and told my host family I like to eat it, this chicken had an incredibly hot aftertaste. Once my mouth finally cooled down, I walked to the gym I joined to meet up with Katie to workout.
The gym we joined is incredibly nice and clean. I ran on the treadmill for a little while, and then heard an announcement that a spin class was about to start. These classes are included in the cheap membership, so we decided to try out Chinese spinning. The instructor was very engaged and really got into the workout; he helped count out the beat and showed us the different movements. I actually really enjoyed the short 30 minute class – but I don’t think I’ve ever sweat that much in that short time before… The best part of the gym was taking a nice, cool shower in their clean bathroom!
I love that I am becoming so accustomed to China. I have also noticed that many of the stereotypes that I had when I first arrived have almost completely disappeared! For example, I’ve always thought of China as not being the safest place for a young woman to walk around alone. However, after living in Zhuhai for less than one week, I’ve noticed that this is not the case, and is far from it. Zhuhai is much safer than most of the cities I’ve visited in America; it is about 1000 times safer than Wilmington! Last night I walked home from the gym (15 min walk) alone in the dark, yet felt completely safe because of all the streetlights, police, and generally a nice public. If I did the same thing in Wilmington, I would have been terrified. I think breaking these stereotypes is one of the most valuable parts of my experience in China.