Saturday, 7 March 2009

Weekly Miscellany

‘Your arse is beautiful,’ said my thirteen year old male student, gazing up at me intently.

‘Excuse me?’ I said, hoping that the shock I was feeling wasn’t showing in my face, ‘Can you say that again?’

‘Your arse is beautiful,’ he replied, not a trace of a smirk on his face.

Oh great, I was thinking, now I’m going to have to drag him to his Chinese English teacher after class and have a stressful ten minutes trying to explaining what he said. (A lot of the English teachers for the junior school have quite poor English).

‘I’m very sorry, I still didn’t get it.’ One more chance before I have to become Evil Teacher.

His classmate took pity on both of us.

‘He says your eyes are beautiful.’

Ah. Crisis averted. And although in most places, a thirteen year old boy telling his teacher her eyes are beautiful would be considered weird, this has become quite normal for me in China because I have blue eyes, which are incredibly exotic here. When I first started teaching, it took me a while to get used to students staring at my face before exclaiming: ‘Your eyes are…BLUE!’

I had a similar incident in one of my senior classes this week too. I had asked them to tell me what they thought the world would be like in the Year 3000, and was extremely surprised when one of my normally shy girl students, who blush bright red if I ask them if they have a boyfriend, said ‘There will be lots of interesting sex.’ What she was actually saying was, ‘There will be lots of interesting sights.’

I think I have probably spent too long standing near speakers in nightclubs.

There was another extremely surreal moment yesterday, when I went to lunch with the woman whose small private English school I have just started teaching at. She was rummaging in her shoulder bag and I could her cheeping sounds, which I assumed to be her mobile phone. Until she asked me to look.

She was carrying around, in her handbag, two yellow, fluffy chicks. She had bought them for her two and a half year old son, and periodically throughout the meal the chicks would come out from the bag onto the restaurant floor for his entertainment.


  1. Very funny language crisis. I can imagine those sorts of misunderstandings happen often.
    Funny about the chicks in the purse, too. Not a bad way to entertain a toddler, but some restaurants might object!

  2. The chinese have pronouciation problem although they can write much better. I have the same problem.. I don't understand what they were strugling to tell me when i ask for direction, but when they write it on the paper.. it does help alot.
    Another habit which i don't like is that they spit and throw things any where they like.

  3. One great thing about China is how child friendly it is - and as a result I've only ever seen a kid having a tantrum here three times in six months.
    Yeah, the spitting thing is gross, not to mention a public health hazard. My least favourite thing about China by far. Luckily all the other great things more than balance it out.

  4. It is so interesting reading your experiences. :)And I am glad the crisis over your eyes got averted.

  5. Utterly fascinating blog!
    One of my favorite things is when people and cultures DON'T match. Globalization is nice and all, but there are just too many possibilities to reduce all down to one perspective. Yea!