Springtime has hit Shenzhen and it is disgusting. It rains constantly, and, when it’s not raining, everything is still wet with humidity. The tile floors of our school have proven to be hazardous and more than one student has seriously injured herself by moving too quickly on the damp floors (one of my students slipped so badly, she knocked out three of her teeth). With this deluge of wetness comes the realization that we are surrounded by more than just fog. Fog smells like rain, this smells like…trucks. Every morning Spenser and I check the pollution in Yantian to determine if it’s safe to go running or not. More often than not, we have to deem it “unsafe” and hope we can go running the next day instead.
But we’re not going to focus on the grossness today. Nay I say! Instead I want to tell you all about what it’s like to have your birthday in China, as I just had mine a few weeks ago and boy, was it a doozie!
Spenser and I decided it would be great fun to host a birthday party at our favorite teppanyaki place near the Civic Center metro stop. For two hours and 180 RMB, you can enjoy as much sushi, steak, hibachi grilled foods, beer, wine, and sake as your heart desires. Naturally, all the foreigners take over this place for our various celebrations. Our good friends Gabe and Jared also had their birthdays that week so this was a fantastic party for all three of us. We ate. We drank. We sang happy birthday to each other (in English AND Chinese). It was magical.
A few days later, it was my actual birthday day and I had to teach three classes. Spenser kept saying how bad he felt that he didn’t have enough time to get me a birthday present, but lo and behold! He surprised me after my first class with a beautiful and incredibly delicious cake. I love cake, so this was a wonderful surprise.
Sneaky Spenser also went around to my afternoon classes and told them it was my birthday so before each of those classes, I was forced to stand outside while my students “prepared” something that I was not allowed to see. They’re horrible liars and I could tell they knew it was my birthday, so it was actually quite hilarious to hear them attempt to make up reasons why I couldn’t go into the classroom yet:
Student: “OH! Adrianna! You cannot come in. There is…um…a problem with the computer!”
Me: “Ok, well let me look at it.” More students come out to stop me from going in.
Student: “NOOOOOO!!! You cannot do that! It is…dangerous! You cannot go in yet!”
When I was FINALLY allowed into my classroom (class 7. one of my favorite classes), there was a big drawing on the chalkboard of a lady (I assume was supposed to be me?) and a big cake that said, “Forever 18” on it. I found this especially humorous and they wanted to take a picture of me standing in front of it. I took a normal picture but then the students were complaining that the drawing of me had flowers and I didn’t, so they got me a small Christmas tree to hold (because that’s like flowers, right?). They even instructed me on how to pose and this is the result:
We had a great lesson that day. After class, ALL of them wanted to be in a picture with me so they made me stand on a chair and, even though I look like a giant, this is one of my favorite pictures from China so far:
My final class of the day was class 8; they’re wonderful, and also got the birthday memo from Spenser. Again I was withheld from entering the classroom until they were ready and I was greeted with this when I walked in:
After many versions of happy birthday (English, Chinese, and Cantonese), we had a great class and I was totally ready to go have my official birthday dinner. I came back to the office and Spenser was watching a Chinese TV show with some new friends. It was adorable.
After school, we went for a 串儿 (Chinese barbecue) dinner and had a great time eating meat on sticks. All in all, I had a spectacular Chinese birthday, and am so grateful to everyone here and abroad who celebrated with me. Thanks guys, I love you 🙂