At the Moment

March 14, 2016
Lately I've been feeling really grumpy because I've been sick for the past two weeks. My Chinese friend told me,"Chinese people believe that if your body has a weakness, it will appear in the spring." Apparently, my body has several weaknesses. I completely lost my voice and could only whisper last Thursday and and today. Maybe that doesn't seem like a big deal, but as a teacher, it seriously affected my ability to deliver a decent lesson. I just felt so powerless and didn't even want to go to school at all, but since we don't get sick days without losing a lot of money, I did end up going. My co-teacher has really been helping me a lot with directing our students since they can't hear me talk. I kept apologizing to her over and over, but she told me not to be silly and that she was happy to help. I just feel so awful that I haven't been able to pull my weight, but my co-teacher did tell me that she once got laryngitis for two weeks and her former co-teacher had to do all the talking for her, so at least she understands what it's like. I'm hoping that I'll be able to recover more over the weekend because this is making me miserable! I did almost break down and cry this morning, but my co-teacher cheered me up by joking around and saying things like,"Oh, I'm the boss of the class now because you can't speak!" She even gave me a Ferrero Rocher chocolate as my "reward for not crying," ha ha. Also, my students have been really cooperative and quiet so that they can hear me whispering their lessons to them. Two of them picked me flowers at recess to make me feel better, and one of them hugged me and said she hoped I would get well soon. Scott even gave me a lemon, and these little kindnesses are going a long way! I am a little upset that I basically have to be a hermit in order to conserve my voice all weekend, so I had to cancel my plans for an outing with Scott to Tianshan Tea City. Tea City is a famous place in Shanghai where you are able to taste and buy all different kinds of tea, but Scott promises he won't go without me and says we can reschedule.

In other news, I reconnected with an old friend who happens to be in China. He lives in a city called Urumqi in Xinjiang province. Honestly, I did have to Google Urumqi because I had no idea where it was. Xinjiang province is China's most westerly province and it borders Mongolia, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan. Xinjiang province became a part of China in 1949, and Han Chinese were encouraged to settle there among the Turkic Uyghurs that were already living there. I am thinking of going out to visit my friend just because it would be cool to see him, and plus I could go to a place in China that is more "off the beaten path." My friend has lived there for roughly half a year now, so he probably knows areas that would be of interest to me. It's going to be VERY different from Shanghai, that's for sure.

On yet another note, Scott and I also decided that we wanted to take Chinese cultural "lessons" for an hour every two weeks. We don't really have a lot of Chinese friends and wanted to get the scoop on our neighborhood from a local, so we asked our former Chinese instructor, Rita, if she could give us a tour of the wet market near where we live. It was really useful because we typically order groceries online and then have them delivered. What we order isn't exactly that cheap, so going to the wet market can save us some money on food. The wet market is right by our bank, and I feel like I'm at the bank all the time, so there's no reason not to stop by and stock up on fresh fruits and veggies.  The wet market by us has both an inside and outside portion and it's two levels. Besides the produce I mentioned, it's also easy to buy meat, but I probably won't just because I rarely eat meat. There was a stand with a man that sold all sorts of tea, and I asked Rita what kind of tea would be good to drink for laryngitis. She told me a bitter tea would help and asked the seller for his suggestion, which was dandelion tea. Scott had it before because one of his students gave some to him, and his co-teacher told him that it will help you sleep, which Scott confirmed.

The wet market has a sewing shop, and Rita told us if we had any clothes with holes in them that we could bring them in to be fixed. I asked her if she could ask the man working there whether or not he was able to patch a pair of jeans for me, and he said he could. That made my day because my favorite pair of jeans here need to be patched! It wouldn't be a big deal if I could easily find replacement jeans, but that is just unlikely to happen for a tall girl like me. Scott was equally excited because he found a stall that had watch batteries for sale. Rita also pointed out where we could get some dried snacks, tofu, and showed us where to buy the dough for dumplings. She pointed out restaurants that we could try and we got to see places that sold snacks like dumplings and chestnuts. After she showed us everything, we told her that we were going to purchase ingredients for a stew, and she had us lead the way and watched us as we bought everything we needed. Admittedly, sometimes I am not very aggressive, so I kind of needed that push. Because of our "lesson," I feel like it's a bit less daunting and already can't wait to show my friend Lauren. 

What's life like for you right now? How do you deal with being sick when it affects your work?
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