‘White Girl, You Talk Chinese?’

I’ve learned three very valuable things since I last posted a blog on this site: China likes to play hardball, Hollywood Avenue is more fun at night, and native Asian people do not expect me to speak Chinese.

It’s been a whirlwind; I only have a week left at summer school, five weeks left in the country. I spent last weekend rejuvenating myself via a girls weekend in Los Angeles. There is nothing like a night dancing in Hollywood to make a weary traveler’s visa woes disappear. A few classmates and I spent the weekend touring the surprisingly free-entry Getty Museum (a must see!), fitting my handprints into movie star’s outside the Chinese Theater and wandering the cultural districts in search of a good deal ($4 sunglasses, OK!).

I came back to Irvine ready to face an email inbox full of updates on my visa situation. I have a new job in China. After much searching, praying and a 3 a.m. phone interview thanks to the 15-hour time difference, I am now a foreign English teacher for Hangzhou Dianzi University in Zhejiang Province. It is one of the top business and economics universities in China and it is completely different than my life would have been in Shanghai working for Scholastic. This is a big change to make in my head about my life this next year, but I’m happy.

Hangzhou is one of the eight most beautiful cities in China according to National Geographic Magazine and it is only a two-hour train ride south of Shanghai, so I’ll still be semi-close to my classmates. There is a Chinese saying that goes, “Heaven above, Hangzhou below” meaning that Hangzhou is Heaven on Earth. Cool. My salary is cut in half working for a Chinese school rather than Scholastic, but the school provides me with my own apartment on campus, so I don’t have to worry about any bills or housing issues.

I’m just waiting for a visa, which could come any time between tomorrow and next month. My teachers are convinced that I should not be worried; that I will definitely get a visa this time, but I’m not so sure. I feel like a China reject and refuse to buy my ticket until I see my visa in person. They’ve denied me before, what’s to say that it won’t happen again?

On a funnier note, Concordia houses groups of people for conferences and events throughout the summer. We’ve seen groups of retired quilters, pastors, incoming college freshmen, sports teams and family reunions share our campus throughout the summer. This week’s group takes the cake in entertainment: Japanese highschoolers who have never been to the United States. I was in the salad bar line waiting for a scoop of tofu yesterday when I accidentally slipped a, “xie xie” (thank you) to one of the students when she passed me a spoon.

She looked at me shocked and in her broken English spurted out, “White girl, you talk Chinese!”

I have made it. China, please let me in.

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