very late updates

My internet has been the worst these past couple of months. It has been so hard to update y’all. I have been in China for just over two months now. It seems like I’ve been here a lifetime. I’m still definitely learning new things every day, but culture shock has calmed down a little bit.

I kind of got to a point last month were I was in a valley. People ask me how my time has been in China, but it’s such a loaded question. I’ve had the best times in China, but also the worst times in China. It’s been the best experience of my life, but also the hardest experience. That’s okay. It’s life. Nothing terrible has happened, but sometimes the small daily struggles add up.

The foreign teachers were planning a Halloween party. We told all of our students about it. Everyone was so excited. The day before the party the school told us we had to cancel it, because they are trying to phase out western holidays. All of our students were disappointed, and we definitely were too. I invited a class to my apartment. In total we probably fit 45 students in there. We played games, and I taught them how to make no bake cookies. It was so much fun. Students don’t have much time for fun, and when I was reading in my guest book I knew it was the right choice to invite them over.

My students want to hang out with me often (which is the coolest thing ever.) They take me places and teach me the Chinese way of life. They are very close in age to me, and so I really am like one of them. Some of my Chinese friends I’ve made who are still in school are older than me.

Some students took me to Jianghan Road and made me eat a lot of mystery meat and stinky tofu. If you’ve never smelled stinky tofu before consider yourself lucky. Stinky tofu is the worst smell on this planet. I vowed to myself I would never eat it, but my students bought it for me then bullied me into eating it. I told them I would eat it because I loved them that much.

Pro tip: don’t breathe in when eating stinky tofu. That’s the worst mistake. An even better pro tip: don’t ever eat stinky tofu in general.

My classes are going well. In the middle of the semester the teachers are evaluated by other teachers and students. I was incredibly nervous, because my style of teaching is nothing like common chinese teachers. My boss sent me an email excited about my students’ responses to my class. She said they thoroughly enjoy my class. They think it’s very humorous and engaging. I never went to school to learn how to be a teacher, so it’s a trial and error process. My students have been so patient and kind to me though. I’ve been prioritizing hanging out with them and making connections with them so much more than actual lesson plans which could be good or bad, but I think they appreciate it.

Abigail Cooper