Apologies! Apologies! It’s been far too long! In the interests of time (and not boring you to tears) I thought I’d provide a summary of what’s been going on for the last two months, as there have been some interesting events and excursions.
Though Christmas is not a Chinese holiday many Chinese students have embraced it as a fun holiday to celebrate with their friends, in contrast with traditional festivals, which are generally family festivals. Christmas observance is mostly observed through decorations, especially the large number of Christmas trees around. Even the little market on campus had a Christmas tree and all the employees were wearing Santa hats for most of December.
My apartment looked very cheerful with all the items I’d bought last year and other things my mom had sent me: pinecones, mini Christmas tree, Christmas dish towels, etc. I even found some Christmas lights, which I’ve been reluctant to take down since I put them up.
Some of my students surprised me with Christmas gifts and cards. Three of my English majors gave me a cute mug, some candles and several apples. Other student gifts included a Yakult, random pieces of chocolate, Mongolian snacks, and more apples.
What’s the deal with the apples? Apple in Chinese is ‘ping guo’ which shares a Chinese character with the word ‘peace’, so to give an apple has become representative of good wishes/peace for Christmas. Which I thought was super cool, once I understood what it meant.
Macau for ‘The Hobbit’
Also in December, a group of foreign teachers decided to venture to Macau to see ‘The Hobbit’. Though it likely would be arriving in China sometime in the future, many of us couldn’t wait that long. So we ventured across the border to Macau. Zhuhai borders Macau and whenever I go to there I think “Why don’t I go to Macau more often?” Then, when I’m waiting in long slow lines to exit “China” and enter “Macau” I remember why I don’t. Yeah. That.
‘The Hobbit’ would deserve a long post of its own. To be brief, I’d say that as a movie it was acceptably entertaining, but as the film version of a beloved childhood book I left disappointed. The Gollum and Bilbo scene was excellent, but that was the high point for me.
Last year the foreign teachers of my school were extremely lacking in a sense of community. Though a friend and I tried to organize a Christmas potluck, it was essentially a no-go. We managed to scrape together 4 people for a modest evening. Fortunately many of the new teachers that arrived this fall are extremely community-minded. We had a FANTASTIC Christmas party, complete with lots of good food, drinks, conversation, games and really loud off-key caroling. Most excellent.
So December was a pretty good month all around, if not exactly an American December.