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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Jingling and Jangling

It is cold here in Zhanjiang, cold with a permeating wetness that has left things moist and sticky. My kitchen is sweating, small beads of condensation pimpling everywhere, the floor remains elusively wet even after a few moppings, and the mirrors are all steamed and runny, like you just got out of the shower. I can see my steamy breath even when inside, and my typing is unusually clumsy because my fingers are just slightly numb and slower.

But otherwise, I can't complain.

A few of the students who spent their holiday "studying" in Minnesota returned this term with a lot of good experiences. It's always nice to know that your home left a good impression. One thing they were all amazed with was how warm Minnesota was. Yes, the region got a ton of snow while they were visiting (for most, their first time seeing snow), but they were amazed with how warm the insides of buildings were;
"in Zhanjiang, when it is cold outside, it is cold inside," my student Sunny explained, "but in America, no." Yes, it's called insulation, and it is a wonderful thing. The buildings here in Zhanjiang are built for the summer heat (that is, they are not designed to retain heat), which leads to a few months of misery as the inevitable cold of winter arrives. Hence sweaty walls and condensation. When I first arrived here, I'm sure I would have ranted and raved about this, but now, I can only shrug my shoulders and hope it gets warmer (but not too warm) soon.

The term is ... well, the new term is going to ... well, the new term has certainly started. All my seniors from last term are away doing their teaching practice, which means most of my friends are no longer on campus. So it goes.

I noticed yesterday that Chinese people eat more than any other group of people I know of. They constantly eat, and in large quantities, and yet they're all so damn thin. I went to dinner with a group of friends during the Spring Festival holiday, and they warned each other not to eat too much (this after a five-course dinner) so that they could eat more snacks (xiao chi) later. The other day I was invited to lunch at Shang laoshi's house, and his wife prepared roast duck, spicy vegetables, cucumber salad, and 216 home-made dumplings. Yes, you read that right: 216 jiao zi for eight people. It was a delicious meal, and I hadn't eaten breakfast, so I ate a ton, and yet Shang and Snowhite kept finding room for more jiao zi long after I had to put the chopsticks down. I spent the afternoon in a lazy drunken dumpling daze, and it was fantastic. I don't know how they eat so much and still stay thin, but they do, and I must learn their secrets.

It's Saturday evening, and I still have much to do, so that's all for now.

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