Before I jump into the jellyfish and snails, I’m going to back up a little bit and tell you a little bit more about my first week teaching. Tuesday and Wednesday classes were every bit as perfect and fun as my Monday classes!
Once again, the students picked their English names. Some of my favorites were Jack and Rose (because of Titanic), Katerina (Vampire Diaries), Jerry (from Tom and Jerry), Tris (Divergent), Arthur (King Arthur of Camelot) and Rachel (because of me!!).
There are only two boys in every class and the rest are girls – most boys don’t want to be English majors and instead study science or math. This makes for an interesting class because 1.) Almost one boy in every class randomly picked the name Frank and 2.) the girls LOVE the boys and think everything they do or say is hilarious.
Walking around campus has been super fun because students want to talk to me and take my picture, even if I don’t know them. Many of the students at Nan Hua University have never talked to a foreigner, let alone had a foreign teacher before. It’s so exciting for me to be the first foreigner they’ve met!
On Wednesday I only teach two classes, and I had a break at 10am. I wanted to explore the new campus but one of the other English teachers saw me and started talking to me. He was a super friendly Chinese man named Bernard Lee who taught the non-English majors and asked me to come to his class at 10am. His class clapped so loudly for me when I walked in and I’ve never felt like a famous person more than in that moment hahaha
His students had lots of questions for me – Where are you from? How long have you been in China? Do you know any Chinese? (They laugh really hard when I say a few words) And then a boy raised his hand and asked “Do you have a boyfriend? I am available!” Then they asked me to list my standards for a boyfriend.
Chinese students also love to hear Americans sing. I sang Baby by Justin Bieber and lots of Taylor Swift songs so much this week. They requested Titanic’s My Heart Will Go On as well.
Our teachers from Class 1 (the teachers we did KTV with last week) invited us to dinner on Friday night. We drove to a beautiful place called Nanhu Park a little outside of the city – there was a big lake and gorgeous flowers everywhere! We went inside a restaurant and the teachers and their families treated us royally, thanking us for teaching them. They explained we would be having seafood for dinner and then suddenly there were snails on the table.
It was such an interesting experience trying those snails and the other seafood! The snails were squishy and vinegary tasting, and weren’t as bad as I thought they’d be. I grabbed something I thought was meat but turned out to be jellyfish – and I don’t recommend it haha. I asked my students about it and most of them said they don’t even eat “shuimu” (jellyfish). I’m glad I tried it once though!
My students from my Tuesday class at 3pm invited me to a BBQ the next day at Nanhu Park. Lauren came with me and we successfully hailed a taxi for the first time and showed him where we wanted to go. I’ve never felt so accomplished.
My students had a huge array of food spread out under a canopy – chicken wings and bacon and tofu and eggplant and potatoes and mushrooms and lotus vegetables. They were putting all the food on skewers then passing it on to the people firing up the grills. It was so much fun hanging out with them and getting to know them better! They were so sweet and wouldn’t stop handing food to Lauren and me – it was all so good! True to typical Hengyang culture, all of it was flavorful and spicy.
After lunch we walked around the park and then my students taught us a game called “Who Is The Spy?” There is a host who tells everyone a word – everyone except one person has the same word, but you don’t know if you have the same word or if you’re that odd person out (the spy). Everyone goes around and has to describe the word they have – the words will be similar, like ice and water, bread and cookie, or boyfriend and husband. At the end of the round you vote on who you think the spy is, or which description didn’t match the others. If you vote the spy out you win, if not you keep playing until you find the spy. It was great English practice for them and a fun game I want to play again!