I seriously cannot believe it's the middle of May. Where is the time going? Scary. Anyway, for the most part, life has been pretty normal here in Shaoguan. The rainy season is upon us, and mother nature certainly hasn't given any of us a reprieve. Sometimes it rains constantly, without stopping, for days and days. I've never seen so much rain, even in some of the other subtropical places I've visited. On the plus side is that everything is so green and fresh. The downside, well, we're pretty much being bombarded by mosquitoes. They're everywhere, and try as we might to keep them out of the apartment, a few seem to make their way in. Luckily, we have this amazing invention that I will call an electric mosquito racket, and it is one of the coolest things I have ever owned. It looks like a tennis racket with metal webbing, and all you have to do is plug it into the wall to charge it, turn it on, and zap those bugs!! It's pretty fun, usually when you hit a bug with it it just sparks and snaps, and the bug is literally disintegrated within one second. It kills larger bugs, too, but not without a little carnage. Last night, Collin zapped a large mosquito in the living room, and as the racket sparked and snapped, the dying mosquito started to SMOKE, creating a stench so horrible that Collin began gagging and coughing! It stunk up the whole room, so we had to light some incense to cover up the smell.
Hahaha, ok enough about insecticide (I could write a book about that, but I'll spare you). Teaching is going well, and this month I've been trying to get my students to work on a few more challenging projects. Last week, in all of my classes, I held a poetry competition. The week before, I introduced some different kinds of poetry and explained some of the vocabulary. Then I assigned each of them to write their own poems in English. During the next class, each student read their poems aloud, and their classmates voted on who wrote the best poem. Some of the poems were really great, and some just made me crack up. One of my female students wrote her poem about having a date with Justin Bieber, and another female student wrote about her favorite TV show, The Vampire Diaries. Needless to say, it was pretty entertaining to listen to, and overall I was very pleased with their efforts. The winners from each class received a classic English book (The Jungle Book, Treasure Island, Alice In Wonderland, and Frankenstein), and also some Reese's peanut butter cups, which I picked up while in Shanghai. For the most part, the winners seemed really excited about the prizes, until Friday morning. The winner of the competition came to the front to claim her prize, and after I explained what the candy was she said, "But Miss Hutte, I'm afraid I will not eat it!" A little shocked by this, I stammered, "Uh, ok, well, you can, um...share it with someone, maybe?" She was not impressed with the candy, even though she'd never tasted it before. Little did she know how hard it was for me to keep four packs of peanut butter cups in our fridge for over a week without EATING THEM ALL! But, what can you do? ***SIGH***
This past weekend we went out with Alex and the Panamanian students for karaoke. It was a pretty good time, although it got a little crowded and we didn't get to sing very many songs, but we still had fun. Since there aren't any bars in Shaoguan, karaoke is the next best thing. There are literally half a dozen karaoke joints next to the university, and they're used at all the times of the day. You'll go to lunch in the afternoon, and it's not unusual to hear someone wailing to "My Heart Will Go On" or some other sappy Chinese love song. As a rule, in China, anytime is a good time for karaoke. Period.
A couple of weeks ago we went to Shanghai. We only spent a week there, but it was truly amazing. Shanghai is one of the coolest cities I've ever been, there's so much to see and do, and so much good food to eat! We stayed at a really great place called the Rock and Wood Hostel. They had a great restaurant and bar, and the best part was the beds were super comfy!! So nice after sleeping on a hard bed for 9 months! We went to a few museums, ate all kinds of great food like Vietnamese, Italian, Mediterranean, American (burgers) and some local Chinese specialties like xiao long bao, a delicious kind of dumpling. While walking around the Pudong area, where all the tall and modern buildings are, we ran into a group of Americans. I happened to be wearing my Stanford University t-shirt that day, and when they saw it they came right over and started talking to us. Turns out they were exchange students from Stanford, who were doing a semester abroad in Beijing at Peking University, the best university in China. We talked to them for a few minutes about the city and what to do there, and then parted ways. People around the world can say what they want about America and Americans, but it's been my experience that Americans are some of the friendliest travelers, and it was really nice talking to them. We also walked around the Bund, the old part of Shanghai, which was awesome because there are so many old Western-looking buildings, so it doesn't feel like China at all. I kept saying to Collin that it felt a little like the Twilight Zone, we knew we were in China, but it didn't feel like China! It was like some alternate universe! But that's what makes Shanghai so great, you really get the best of both worlds. Western food and culture, mixed with Chinese food and culture, all put together in one spectacular city. I definitely want to go back someday.