As I think about the summer in America, I keep noticing things from living in China that I've assimilated and wondering how they're going to work out for me in the US....
- Being a little grossed out by PDA. Sure, my students who are dating are all over each other, but that's because they're kids. And girls hold hands all the time with their female friends -- I hold hands with female students -- but I'm not sure that I've ever seen an actual adult couple in China making much physical contact at all in public. Certainly not kissing. And I was super weirded out the other day to see two of the foreign teachers kissing. (And then I was weirded out that I had been weirded out.)
- Using the word "play" to mean "hang out with friends." As in, "I don't have any plans, I just want to play with you." Sure, it's grammatically correct. But the connotations aren't exactly the same... I've tried warning students that they shouldn't say it, but I still do. Because c'mon, it's a little shorter.
- Mixing Chinese and English. Especially in texting. Especially en... (somewhere between um and yes.)
- The idea that the floor is disgusting. (Although this seems to be less of an issue in Sichuan than it was in the north east -- my only hypothesis here is that way more people grew up on farms and so dirt is more a normal thing?) The reality that soles of shoes are disgusting and should never, ever be touched. The fact that drinking tap water is not a good idea and who would do that? And the habit that toilet paper goes into the trashcan, not the toilet.
- Having entire conversations that basically consist of grunts. With different tones, of course.
- Repeating short words so many times. This is a normal part of spoken Chinese -- for example: "e, hao hao hao" or "e, dui dui dui" which google translate (accurately!) translates as "oh, okay" and "oh, right."
- Not understanding the vast majority of what's said around me, a significant portion of what's said to me, and being nearly illiterate. While there are a lot of frustrations that come along with the severe limitations of my communication abilities, there are decided advantages to not being able to understand everything going on around you. It makes focusing a much more straight forward task. And there's a lot of not-relevant information that I don't get overloaded with, because I'm not tuned into that station, so to speak.
- Daily naps being a normal thing. There's a reason the break for lunch at our school is nearly three hours long.
- Picking up grammatical idiosyncrasies from my students, such as overusing "too" in place of very and "maybe"and "I think" as ways of delivering things a bit more gently.
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