When I met Alvin and his family for the first time, they were kind enough to invite me to stay for dinner. Dumplings! (饺子-Jiǎozi) I wasn’t particularly hungry, but I ate my fair share because those things are sooooo good. I made a comment saying as much in broken Chinese, and they taught me a new phrase-眼睛 饿 了-yǎnjīng È le. Hungry eyes. A consistent problem I have when food is just too good to not eat! (Hint: it’s a problem because I find almost everything tasty.) In the weeks to follow though, I’ve begun to attribute this phrase to another phenomenon in my life overseas. I want to go everywhere, do and see everything, eat everywhere. I want to go to Qufu, Xi’An, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Chengdu, Suzhou, Dalian, Hainan, even Seoul. I want to fill as much of my short 5 months as I possibly can! BUT. This college girl’s budget will just not support those desires. I’ve got travel hungry eyes. And my bank account is simply not large enough to fit it all in.
This past week is when I first began to realize I’d have to scale back my travel wishes. It’s a 3-day weekend because of the Qingming Holiday (Tomb Sweeping Day). At registration when I first looked at the calendar of holidays my brain immediately went, “okay, 3 days is enough to visit place A, this holiday I can go to place B&C, that week I can go here here and here…” It didn’t work out that way this time. I honestly got a bit disappointed at first. Who knows when I’ll be back to this part of the world?! I’ve GOT to make it all work. Right? Then some serious self-talk took place. “Okay girl. What in your right mind makes you think you won’t be back if you want to be? You are learning Chinese for a reason, for crying out loud. Someone will want to put you back in Asia. And if not, what’s stopping you from coming back yourself? Nothing. Pinch pennies and do whatever you want. It’ll all work out. Rest is not a waste of time, rest is not a waste of time, rest is not a waste of time...”
I’m also living in a pretty fantastic city in-and-of itself. Qingdao has so much to offer, and not traveling as much to other places means I can more fully explore my new home city. When I begin to consider my time here in that way, my disappointment dissipates. How can I possibly feel like I’m missing out when I’m living in a city on the coast backed by mountains studying Chinese amidst more nationalities than I can count?? I’m finding out the people I came with are FANTASTIC individuals, the last chill of winter is on its way out, and video chats keep the ones I love most close. No matter how this life venture shakes out, I’m blessed beyond my own comprehension right where I’m at.
"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation..." - Paul in Philippians 4:12 (an excerpt)
- Qingming Festival (清明节), or Tomb Sweeping Day is on April 7 of this year, and makes for a 3-day weekend. The long weekend makes it a chance to travel and enjoy the warming weather. "It is mostly noted for it connection with Chinese ancestral veneration and the tending of family graves." (from Wikipedia, but this is what I've heard from everyone around me too) One friend was telling me how some people would buy fake money (monopoly anyone?) and go burn it near their families' tombs on Fu Shan as a homage to their deceased ancestors. Apparently it can cause some fire issues on the dry, piney, and windy mountain.
- I have found a food I simply cannot stand: stinky tofu. I could devote an entire blog to its noxious properties, but a friend already has! Check it out here ---> Talk About an Understatement: An Introduction to Stinky Tofu
- Add pigs feet/hoofs to the list of interesting things I've ingested. If I unwrapped my mind from what it was, the way I had it wasn't too bad. Kind of sweet in a way. Mind over matter!
- In the states staring and cutting line are rude. Not so here. Especially the staring. Sometimes on the bus I feel like a zoo animal!
- In case you didn't know, the iPhone 4 with Sprint does not run off of a SIM card. So the blessed convenience of using a Chinese cell service via my iPhone is not an option. I've got two phones while I'm here. The one for calling and texting in-country. My iPhone as my dictionary, camera, and contact back home when I'm connected to Wifi. You better believe my next upgrade will include a SIM card and will be unlocked for international use at the beginning of my contract.