Monday, December 12, 2011


Every week or so, I invariably get cornered by a group of students as I'm leaving my classroom or walking across campus and the conversation typically goes something like this:

"Hi, Simiiiii!!!"

"Hiiiiii . . . [Oh, no. I don't remember any of their names. A little help from above, please]."

"Where are you going?"

"I'm going to my house!" *Big Smile!*

"Do you want to go to KTV?"

"Er . . . sure. I'd love to go sometime"

"Okay, let's go!"



And I'm whisked away, arms linked with girls whose names I don't remember (have I even met them?). And it's always a blast :)

KTV is a phenomenon you have to experience before you die. KTV is karaoke on steroids (to borrow a term used often by my SV friends). Imagine a building about the size of a motel, gilded on the outside with Vegas-style lights (or just Christmas lights for the more modest ones). You walk through ornate doorways into a palatial lobby and as you approach the front desk with your crew, strains of "P-p-p-p-oker Face" and "Baby" filter into your ears. You choose from among a selection of "packages." Two hours with snacks and drinks. Two hours, no snacks. Four hours with two rounds of snacks and drinks. Twelve hours.

As you're guided through corridors to your private music room, you hear eager, "home-made" renditions of songs you know and love (or used to love :P), as well as songs you've never heard, all belted-out with gusto. Finally, you arrive at your room and it's fitted with a cushioned wrap-around sofa, a large TV screen, a high-tech karaoke machine, microphones . . . and tambourines. Let the singing begin!

I'm Alive! An Overview of the Past Few Months

I did not intend to be gone this long.

There's a lot to fill you in on, but I'll only touch on the highlights and I'll give it to you in phases so you're not overwhelmed.

I must begin with an apology for my failure to keep my blog updated. Sometime in mid-September, the hard drive in my laptop crashed and I basically lost contact with the world outside China for the next month or so. Perhaps, it was what I needed to make sure I dived into the culture here right away, rather than seeking daily support from friends and family hundreds of miles away.

And it worked! I formed friendships right away, learned my way around (mostly just to the supermarket and the mall), and discovered how people keep themselves entertained around here.

October and November
flew like the wind, and not without their share of festivities and surprises. I built relationships with students as I attended student-organized events on campus or took up invitations to visit places of interest around the city. These were also busy months as I figured out what worked or didn't work teaching Oral English and adjusted accordingly. I'm still learning!

In November, we had the joy of celebrating Thanksgiving with some of our Chinese friends. The president of our university as well as a young couple who work in administration joined us for Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of traditional turkey, we had pork and gravy :) Our guests also added to our fare various Chinese delights (and I'm not referring to the expensive heavy liquor our president brought. Long story. Don't worry, nobody had too much to drink).

And here we are! Advent is upon us and I am reveling in the sense of expectation of the Gift to come (the Gift that already came). I'll keep you posted on how we do Christmas this year :)