Hey guys… psssst… I don’t know if you know this, but China is a foreign country. Things are different here! Here are some things I’ve observed so far.
Evidently, college isn’t about perfecting your beer pong technique. At least, that’s what I’ve gathered from students here. While graduating high school and testing well enough on the 高考 (gao kao, their SAT equivalent) to go to college is a big deal worthy of celebration, they choose to celebrate in… subdued ways. Maybe it’s just because all the students here have no money. Or maybe it’s because the immediate area around our campus isn’t all that exciting. Or maybe my expectations are too high? But every time I ask my students about their “c-c-c-razy weekends,” I get blank stares followed by one or two students saying they slept a lot. (Maybe I can get better weekend stories if my follow-up question is “And whom did you sleep with a lot?” But I don’t think they would get it.)
You see, college students here don’t go to frat parties or do body shots or get shut down by the police for breaking neighborhood sound ordinances. As far as I can tell, they hang out on campus, go to the internet cafe, and maybe, if they’re feeling really adventurous, go to KTV to sing their favorite Chinese love songs. I think they’re too broke to do anything else, but one of these days, I want to ask my students about their weekends and have someone tell me they woke up on a sidewalk downtown with no pants.
Universities in China have a different way to welcome their fresh meat: military training. Three weeks of wearing a blue camouflage uniform, complete with cute patrol cap, sporty leather belt, and some clashing green tennis shoes. All day, every day, they get together and march around and sing and yell a lot right outside my window.
I suppose the idea is for the new students to feel like “part of a unit” before they begin their studies. As if being students at a university couldn’t possibly give them that feeling. But I don’t get the sense that there’s a lot of school spirit, so the next logical way to achieve this is to slap a uniform on them and make them do that silly goose march they like so much in communist countries.
Belly Dancing Class
OK, so I haven’t actually gone to the class (yet!). But I looked into the dance room at my gym and observed the glory of it all. Loud Middle Eastern music, ladies moving their hips saucily…. and a man, up on stage, leading the class with a string of bells around his waist. BELLS. Obviously, I will be attending this class at the next available opportunity.