Campus Life, China, Food, University Teaching

Knock, Knock, Knock

I met a student at English Corner last week. A very enthusiastic student, she followed me out when I left and walked with me for half of my evening walk around campus. With reservations I gave her my phone number. Never a good idea, really. And I usually don’t. But she was just so . . . something.

Today is Sunday. In the western world that’s the weekend and it is sacrosanct. Around 5:30 PM this student gave me a call. Seeing who it was, I groaned. Yes, Amy, that’s why you shouldn’t give students your phone number. I was “busy” watching Fringe and didn’t feel like talking to her. So I ignored her call. Twice. I know, I know. You’re thinking it and I’m thinking it. What a _____ , Amy.

A short while later someone starts knocking on my door. I thought it was my friend Stephen who likes to mock Sheldon from “Big Bang Theory” who does this three quick knocks on the door in a row followed by your name thing, repeated on a loop until you open the door. Knock, knock, knock. Knock, knock, knock. Yeah, yeah. Coming.

Imagine my surprise when I open the door and find this student there. How does she know where I live?!? Admittedly most in the foreign teachers live in the same building on the same floor, but there’s still at least 30 apartments. I didn’t actually recognize her at first. Then she said that she’d been calling me, but I hadn’t answered. Uhhhh. Yeah, about that.

And why is she here on my doorstep? She brought me food. KFC, in fact. I don’t know the exact distance of the nearest KFC, but it’s a least 25 minutes away by bus. My mind was not functioning well and I wasn’t sure how to interpret this. Students do seem to have this distressing way of thinking that foreigners are like babes in the wood who do not have the intelligence or know-how to feed themselves. I’m like 60% sure that this wasn’t the motivation behind this surprise visit, but then I can’t entirely discount it . . .

I took the proffered bag and stood there a little dumbly for a few seconds. Was I supposed to invite her in? There was also another older woman with her. Her mother maybe? Whoa. So not prepared for this. I managed a ‘thank you,’ but was still trying to process this. Wah-how-what?! As no invitation seemed forthcoming from me, the student said good-bye and turned to leave. I shut my door and put the bag on my desk to stare at it confusedly. An unexpected turn of events.

Yes, I did explore my food. A chicken sandwich and two crispy chicken wings. And some smelly fish balls that I didn’t touch. I felt a little guilty as I ate, but no sense in letting it go to waste, right? I owe this student a very kind text message and/or phone call. And should probably take her out to lunch this week. I’m sure my reaction was not at all what she had in mind. But—seriously—how did she find out my room number?

It’s a little disconcerting, no?

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2 thoughts on “Knock, Knock, Knock

  1. You recieved a small favour from her, and she’ll expect something in return later – so taking her to dinner would be a good idea to square the slate now, or you’ll be paying it back in free tuition forever…

  2. sarahinguangzhou says:

    I know what you mean and it seems rude not to be avaialble all the time but unless you set boundaries they will just come round whenever they feel like it. I hate giving out my number to students. I usually say I haven’t got one or can’t remember the number and if they really persist I just say no.
    I know this sounds mean but if you don’t they will just turn up like that. They often think you have nothing better to do with your free time than give them free English lessons, failing to grasp that if you wanted to teach English in your spare time you could charge money for it.
    Yes I know I’m mean. But I just feel I work hard enough for the hours I’m required to be there, without doing any more.

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