“That’s How I Roll!” – China

Scenario #1:

Time: Saturday, Sept 22 8:52am

Grey’s Anatomy is playing on Hulu while I sip on a cup of coffee…..ok ok ok, I’m cross-stitching too. (I’m going to make an amazing REAL grandma someday, even if I never have children.)

*Phone rings*

Me: “Hello?”

Lady: “Hi, Emily. It’s Vivi. You were supposed to be in class this morning. Did they tell you about the make-up classes for today?”

Me: “Yes, they told us today would be make-up classes for Friday afternoon. I have class at 1:30pm today.”

Lady: “No, you were supposed to make-up Friday afternoon classes this morning.”


Da Scoops: The Chinese National Holiday is coming up in the first week of October, so we were scheduled to make-up classes on Saturday, Sept 29. “Fine, ok. It’s in my planner.” (I’m pretty sure “plan” and “schedule”…just like “weekend” do not exist in the Chinese language.)

Yesterday(!) the government (the GOVERNMENT!!) decides to change that make-up day to THIS Saturday, Sept 22…not even 24 hr notice. They F’ed up the message so bad, no teachers showed up for class today b/c apparently there was a time change that got lost along the way.

And people wonder why I lose my mind here…..”76 more days, Em. 76 more days.”

Dear World,

Don’t be afraid of China.

Emily B.


#9 (10/14/11)

Hey all,
So, I’m kinda freaking out here because I have 12 weeks left. I feel like I’m gonna get back to HI and say, “What just happened?” looking around all confused as though I had traveled back in time or to another life, wondering where all my stuff is. Oh that’s right, I gave it all to Goodwill to move to China for 2 days (or so it seems b/c it’s FLYING by). The bummer part is I’m just now heading out of what I actually saw quoted as the “rejection phase” of culture shock. Yeah, it’s the part where all the fun stuff and willingness to learn new things has passed and you just get really irritated with everything that’s not normal to you. Or at least that’s how I define it based on my experience. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely loving this experience. I’m so thankful for it, blah blah blah, BUT as some of you may not know, I’m actually human. (I know my super powers can be a bit confusing) but it’s true, I’m human. (My parents are rolling their eyes right now. hahah actually anyone who REALLY knows me is rolling their eyes) What can I say, I love my comforts, I love my friends, and I love Hawaii. As I’ve come to learn through others that can relate to living abroad, it’s not about China. It actually has nothing to do with China. It’s simply that I’m not at home. And really, I’ve done pretty good on not complaining. There’s not much to complain about. I do dearly miss my close girlfriends though. I miss having people that know me to the core, understand me without having to actually use words to communicate. All this to say, it just reminds me how important relationships are in our lives. It’s what we were built for. We need them like air to breath. It’s crazy.

Here in the great country of China, if you have a holiday, there’s work to be made up. So, this week was a 7 day week of school. That’s right! Last Friday ended the holiday and everyone went back to work and school on Sat. What fun! (Sarcasm? Me? Nooooo.) “Dear China, THAT’S STUPID!” aaaaaaaand I’m done complaining. Glad this week is over.

This week actually had some awesome surprises come along.
1) a package in the mail with a stop watch!! Do my friends know me or what??!!! haha What a great pick-me-up!!!
2) I was asked to be a judge at a big English contest for college students and the winners will go on to the national competition. I’m to keep it a secret from the other foreign teachers b/c not everyone was asked.
3) I was asked to visit Gordon and Sonia’s class b/c their students were giving short presentations on different exercises. The goal was to get the other students to do 5 reps of their exercise using only their words, no demonstrating. It was really funny. (I don’t know if I’ve ever instructed an exercise with only my words. That’s difficult even for English speakers!) Oh yeah, and he had made a list for the students to choose from (like, it wasn’t an option. you choose an exercise from the list and you research it), but some of the girls decided against the list anyways and we saw one presentation on The Cradle from WWE wrestling. hahaha
4) We bought tickets to this concert on Sat (tonight). It’s going to be 2 Chinese instruments, of which I don’t know the names yet, and the piano. I’m super stoked about it. It’ll be great to listen to.
5) I finally decided on some office hours, of which the girls have to sign up for. We’ll work on their final exam presentations. (I’m having them choose something from Chinese culture and present to the class. It can be anything. They’ll be teaching me!) This was good b/c I had to clean my place. haha Sounds stupid, but there’s something that feels really good about a clean home. (You clean freaks know what I’m talking about).
6) I finally got to see the Olympic Weightlifting Training Center I’ve been making such a fuss about since before I even came here. I was like a kid in a candy shop. The athletes that train at this place are the world champions. Pictures of the Beijing Olympics were everywhere. It was awesome. We just had a tour in the morning, no athletes were there yet, but they did invite me to come back and stay in the dorms and train with the other athletes just to see what it’s like. (I’m excited for this, but it will definitely be a humbling experience to be around athletes of such caliber) They eat, sleep, breath Olympic Weightlifting. The lady who set up the tour and contacts was the director of Physical Education at one of the nearby universities. After the tour they had tea for us where we could sit and chat. I had some good conversations with the lady and the director of the facility. I got to share with them my background, why I was so interested in the sport, etc. This was the icing on the cake. If I did nothing else in China, I’d be completely satisfied.

I regret to inform you all that I’ve only worked out 3 days this week. I have no excuse other than sheer laziness. The funk is hard to pull out of, but when you have a ticking clock, no time to think, just do it! So amidst my self loathing b/c I’m eating too much and not exercising, I’ve somehow managed to learn a few things still yet. How ’bout that?!
– I’ve decided that feeling fat is just about the absolute worst feeling in the world. It distorts every other thought you have too. Feeling fat somehow makes you believe that you’re not only ugly, but incapable of succeeding at anything. It’s ridiculous, and the madness of it all is that you can feel on top of the world one minute, and not but a tight pair of pants later you’re at the bottom of the barrel, never gonna get married, nobody loves you, learning Chinese is impossible, you suck at teaching and your students hate you. hahaha All this b/c of a few Oreos (when I say few, I mean a lot more than a few….a lot more hahaha) and lingering mornings due to extra time because I’m not outside exercising (I never thought I’d be so thankful for dreary weather and pouring rain until I need an excuse not to exercise). That’s some powerful psychological fluctuation. (I realize this is more common in women than in men, but I’ve seen it tear down a few men as well.) Even these little Asian girls whose collar bones I could break with too tight of a side hug feel fat. What is that?! I thought it was birthing pains we women were cursed with, but clearly they threw in an extra freebie for us to be tormented with. So what’s the lesson you ask? Shut up, get off your ass, and get moving! You don’t want to feel fat, do something about it! It’s really that simple.
– I gotta wonder sometimes if comfort should be a part of my life. I mean, I seem to grow more in my relationship with Him when I’m not in my comfort zone. I have to depend on Him more. I can see his blessings and provision better. But isn’t a comfortable life what we all strive for? To make enough money so we don’t have to worry about bills, food, etc? So then what’s comfort? Sounds more to me like trust. Aren’t we most comfortable around those we trust the most? Aren’t we most comfortable in the places we feel most safe? When you lose someone’s trust, don’t you immediately feel awkward being around that person. How comfortable would you be knowing someone had your identification. Would you lose any sleep over it? Just the other morning I thought to myself “Man, all I want is a comfortable life, to be well taken care of, not a lot of inconveniences.” haha “Sorry, sister, that’s life”, I immediately thought. Plus, (and we all know this) nothing is guaranteed. Our money can be gone in a flash. Our health can change at the drop of a hat. Friends can turn on us and we can lose family members without warning. I’m not gonna tell you to seize the day, go party and live life to the fullest, or hug a family member. But if you DID lose everything, what you gonna do? Who you gonna turn to? I only know of one sure-fire thing that won’t ever fail you, and I think it’s the only reason I’ve been able to step out on a limb like I’ve done with China. I still have my fears, some stupid and some legitimate, but I’ve also got to be a little more vulnerable in order to receive some of the things that could possibly fail me or hurt me, and that will require me to continue to step out of my comfort zone. *sigh* I hate this lesson. haha

One of my times in the morning while reading my favorite book had this story of a blind man. Remember that carpenter guy I mentioned before? Well, he has, like, 12 guys that follow him around and are kind of like his understudies. I’m pretty sure I mentioned them too. They asked him, “Why is this guy blind? What did he do or was it his parents? Did they do something bad and this is their punishment, that their son is blind?” And do you know what he said? “Neither, no one did anything wrong. This happened so that the evidence of Something Great might be displayed.” I wonder if anyone said in their head, “Good grief, here we go again.” In the story, the carpenter guy miraculously heals the blind guy and restores his sight. Now, I have to say, I consider myself somewhat of an understudy of this carpenter guy. (I know, crazy considering all my disgusting imperfections) But I’ve seen a lot of people in the same situation, or have horrible things happen to them and there’s always that looming question of “Why?” “Why me?” And most of them don’t have a miraculous healing, but I’m pretty sure if I gave the same answer I’d get punched in the face. It just doesn’t make sense. Why do bad things happen to good people? First off, no one is “good”, but that’s another story. And this Something Great I’ve never seen, but have you ever thought that maybe the crap you’re going through is to bring you out into something greater than you could have ever imagined? Pain is a powerful thing, and I know it’s hard to see past that. I know it’s borderline impossible to see any light when you’re angry or broken. And I’m not simply going to tell you to “look at the bright side” b/c frankly, that’s a load of crap when you’re sitting in what seems the Valley of Death. That’s what “evidence of a Greater Something” is all about. “Looking at the bright side” has never pulled anyone out of depression, addiction, loss of a loved one. It’s been faith. Faith in something that you can’t see or hear, but you see the effects of, you see the evidence of, which is precisely why it’s called faith. My situation here is pretty peachy. We have someone to cook for us, do our laundry, and our own private living quarters. But the thing I struggled with this week was “Am I making a difference?” So what if I have it easy? So what if I got to see Shanghai. Those are all very fleeting things. If I haven’t given these girls here something really worth their while (and English is great, but it won’t change their life) what the crap am I here for? I shared with someone in an email that it’s easy for me to believe in a god I can’t see, but it’s hard for me to be believe in whether or not I’m making a difference when I can’t see the results.

Thanks for letting me be real. I realize my thoughts weren’t that fluid, but again, didn’t exercise that much so it’s to be expected. haha