The title of this post might seem to be completely over exaggerated, and I am certainly not one to say that I don’t overstate some things, but oh my goodness it has been a busy week. To reiterate some details about the Chinese education system, in China we go to class for about the same amount of time as in high school, about seven to eight hours. But in China we also have the same amount of homework as a college student in the U.S., making it a tough time to get everything done each night. It is most certainly a rewarding experience, but also a tough one. However, I had an extra busy week due to being selected for the Peking University Speech Contest and also having to plan and make Thanksgiving dinner!
We were told at the beginning of the semester that there was going to be a speech competition in November and that the students were going to vote on who was going to represent their class. Of course, no one actually thinks that it will be them. It was certainly a tough week to balance; the teachers were extremely dedicated to this competition and had a tough time understanding that I had other responsibilities outside of this speech. I met with my teacher multiple times outside of class to work on editing and pronunciation, and then preformed the speech everyday in front of my class leading up to the competition.
In addition to the usual homework and then the speech, it was also Thansgiving! This is my absolute favorite holiday and there was no way we were just going to ignore it because we were in China. CIEE was kind enough to rent out an airbnb Friday night for us so that we could cook and have a good time. We had a minor disaster though on Wednesday. We had told our organizers that we would be happy cooking thanksgiving dinner but the one stipulation was that the kitchen must have an oven, we were assured that there would be. But that’s one of the things with cultural differences, we have a very different idea of what quantifies an oven. We planned out our whole feast and on Wednesday went to check with the organizers just what supplies we had, only to learn that our “oven” was actually a toaster oven. Good god, there was an hour or two where we had no idea what we were going to do, our whole dinner saving for the mashed potatoes and green beans relied on that oven. And my friend and I who organized the whole thing had our whole days booked with school work and the speech so there was no way we could re-plan and shop for a whole dinner! Thankfully one of our very kitchen savvy friends came in and saved us. We still had the mashed potatoes, but instead of thanksgiving food we had macaroni salad, eggplant, fried chicken, deviled eggs, caramelized carrots, salad, sweet potato fries, and of course pie! Thank goodness for pumpkin pie.
The place we got was quite nice. In addition to the kitchen they had a pool table, old arcade cabinet, mahjiang board, an Xbox, drum set, guitars, and even a KTV! Everyone had a great time, even the adults and our professor who all came had a great time with the amenities. We taught the other students how to play mahjiang and failed pretty badly at pool.
The speech contest occurred this past Monday and I am quite relieved it is over. I really enjoy giving speeches, but giving a speech in Chinese is a completely different can of worms. We all were required to prepare a four-minute speech answering the question, how do young people view the world? I think it went quite well. There were fourteen people competing in the first group and I got second out of those fourteen! It is nice to be back doing the normal amount of homework again though, I don’t particularly like being that stressed. I do have to say though that it was a good opportunity to improve my speaking ability and gain some confidence. I think it’s always a good idea to take part in these kinds of events if you have the time! Until next time, only two weeks until I go home 🙁