I have been in China for just north of three months now. So far, I am liking it here. The people are friendly, the food is good, and I can find anything I’m looking for in my little town; anything, except butter of course, but I can take a trip to the city to pick it up.
So far I haven’t been running around the country and seeing all there is to see. I am exploring my little town slowly, and even though there are a million people in the town I see someone I know wherever I go. I get stared at like a rock star when I am out though. Even though there are a million people here (tiny by Chinese standards), there are only 4 western foreigners in town I was told when applying for my residency. I am the first white face many of these people have seen in person. My favourite is when they stare at me with mouths agape.
Parents will push their children towards me to practice their English. I should count someday, but I would say “Hello/Hi,” no less than 100 times in a day between people in the street, and classes as well. The look on the faces of a child who approaches me is priceless when they understand how to respond. “Hello,” I will say, and they will shout, “Hello, hello, hello.” Then they will look at their parents who are beaming with pride over their children being able to say something. I will continue (assuming school age), “How are you?” The response is generally the same, “I am fine thank you, and you?” Once in a while they will be good, or great, but usually it is fine. Their day is made because they were able to use what they are learning with the foreigner. My day was made because their smiles were just so darned cute.
If I hear someone trying to talk to me, I will always respond. This is why, I am here solely because I was lucky enough to grow up speaking English. If I am here because people are excited about learning English straight from the horse’s mouth, I had better not be a horse’s hind end to them. If I ever do have a day in the future I am not in the mood to talk to anyone, I’ll keep myself at home, or take the bus to a city nearby where they are more used to foreign faces.
The kids at school are incredibly cute, even when they are being cheeky. Walking to class I am mobbed by a gaggle of kids laughing, and trying to hang off me. I get 30+ hugs a day, and every other day I get my hand held when I am walking from one place to another in the school. It will melt your heart.
In a nutshell, this is my life in China. It is not glamorous, it is not exciting most of the time, but it is mine, and I like it. I have two months off in the summer, and a month off in the winter to travel, so I am not exactly going to be hurting for excursions, excitement, or adventure. Until then, I will enjoy my quiet little life in small town China.