Hello everyone! I know I said ‘I’m going to update on Thursdays and Sundays’ but it seems like that is going to change. Now that I’ve settled in to my life in Tianjin, it turns out I am far too busy on both of those days. So, most likely I will be updating once a week on Fridays, Tianjin time. If you’re in Wisconsin, that means it will probably be up on Thursday or Friday! Most likely Friday!
Moving on to what I have been up to! We had our first 采风(caifeng) which is usually for interacting with the city and the people within the city. For me and two of my classmates, this meant we went to one of the big malls and asked people what their opinions on marriage were. It started off as extremely nerve-wracking. Imagine being in America and walking up to someone and asking “Hey, what age do you think getting married is best?” but this time you’re in a foreign country, speaking a non-maternal language, and it’s a complete stranger. Yeah, awkward.
The thing is, we started literally everything with ‘We are foreigners’ which really helped them to soften to us. Not that my blonde hair doesn’t immediately scream ‘foreigner’ in China, but they seemed to just take to us more when we said this, followed by ‘our teacher gave us this homework assignment’ yadda yadda.
(In case you were wondering, a lot of people think getting married between the ages of 25 and 30 is best, and they look mostly at personality, work, and character).
So while it started out as literally awful, I had an overall good time!
Then, we went to eat lunch at 1030 because we were already there so it was convenient. The restaurant was called 小明(xiao ming) which is basically the Chinese equivalent of ‘Little Johnny’s’ or a name equally as common. I typically don’t eat meat (but because I’m in China, I’m kinda throwing any vegetarian stuff out the window, who knows if I’ll get to come back) so I was kinda trying to follow my vegetarian diet. Being a vegetarian in China? Hard. Really hard. I tried getting tofu soup and the broth was still beef based, and there was still actual meat in it. I didn’t eat it and consumed as little of the brother as I could, but: just because it says ‘tofu’ doesn’t mean there’s no meat. Always ask your waiter.
Wednesday, we went to a museum!! Which was awesome because I adore museums! I wish I had stayed longer, but I was wiped from having Caifeng yesterday. I spent a lot of time looking at the cool historical stuff but, there’s not much to say here. It covers a lot of history—because China has a lot of history—but you really have to be there to get a good sense of what it’s like. One interesting thing: apparently Ulysses S. Grant is pretty well known here, there was a statue of him talking with a Chinese leader.
here’s just a few of the cool museum stuff! The first one is an oracle bone which has some of the oldest characters ever written. The second is a tripod pot that I can’t really remember what it’s for but it’s important! And the last one is the Ulysses S Grant statue I was talking about! Super weird!
Thursday was supposed to be the day I relaxed, but I ended up going out for most of it. First, I had class, and then I went with a classmate and roommate to go with our classmate’s language partner. Language partner’s are voluntary! But she just didn’t want to go alone! We went out and got these cute drinkable yogurts! Delicious!
After this, I met with my tutor (you meet with your tutor Monday through Thursday for an hour each day), and then immediately went out to eat with my own language partner! I am really super tall next to her, as she’s maybe 5’1” or 5’2” while I am 5’8”. Yeah. She brought me to a lovely restaurant, and I broke my vegetarian rule to try Tianjin roasted duck. This roasted duck is different from the one in Beijing, which I still haven’t tried yet. It was really yummy though a bit sweeter than I anticipated. We ate it rolled up in a soft pancake-like wrapper (but it was a thinner pancake). I felt a bit of guilt after eating it, but I’m still glad I did it! Experience!
Today—Friday—we went back to the water park! Not all of us, just me and a few of my classmates, it was super fun. We actually rode one of the rollercoasters and it went upsidedown at least three times. Which was amazing. I sent a couple of pictures at the bottom here, but we walked around a bunch and it was just really fun. Relaxing to be in a smaller group!
A little bit more about being blonde: they will take videos of you. It literally feels like paparazzi. It sometimes is bad enough, that other people get angry on your behalf. I’ve considered charging them money now. I’ll let you guys know how it goes.
It’s really awkward because, like, if you had someone of a minority come to America, even in the smallest towns, people wouldn’t stop you for pictures! They might give you a look, but I have never seen anyone take pictures. I guess I can’t 1000% say for sure, but according to everyone that I’ve asked in the group, no one does that in America. So: confirmed. If you’re blonde, maybe dye your hair, or prepare for every single photo-op ever imagined.
That sums up most everything that happened through Friday! Next week, I’ll update again and cover everything I did today Friday and everything onwards! Love y’all!