Monday, March 01, 2010

Exchange Student Notes #4

(We are hosting an exchange student from China for this school year. Sally is her phony baloney American name. Previous episodes are here, here, and here)

  • There had been a few awkward moments after Sally arrived and we would be watching something on TV with Chinese being spoken and she would get a puzzled look on her face and say that she couldn't understand them. At one point we said that perhaps they were speaking Cantonese, at which point she would get an even more puzzled look. "You know", we'd say "the other dialect spoken in China? We call it Cantonese over here, or perhaps it's Mandarine?" (us not knowing which she spoke). Upon hearing this she would shake her head 'no' and say that China only speaks Chinese. Even I felt uncomfortable asserting that I know something so obvious about a country that someone who is actually from there does not, so I left it at that and figured that I had gotten something wrong. When her more worldy sister came to visit though, she set her right and noted the two dialects. Is this something that's ignored in Chinese schools? Seems like a pretty deal to gloss over.

  • Having a firmer grasp on the diallect Sally speaks and how it sounds , I thought about asking her if she understood this bit, but upon watching the whole thing, I decided that it would probably be best if I didn't...

  • Favorite question from Sally thus far: "why is everything here made in China?". Good question.
  • A recent incident reminded me of an earlier story that I had failed to relate. We were driving home from the airport after having first picked Sally up and on the way home, with these weirdos she had just met, she sneezed. We all said "gazuntite" at the same time without thinking much about it and she looked at use liked we tried steal her soul or something. We then had to explain, etc. However just the other day I sneezed (not an infrequent event) and she said 'bless you', again, without apparently thinking about it. It will be interesting when (if?) she goes back to China and she catches herself saying that to sneezing acquintences.

  • A certain friend of mine said that he ever went to Asia he would hang out at the KFCs since he would find the rest of the food options unedible. Well I've been surprised that given a fast food choice Sally defaults to fried chicken of some sort since it is the most like some food dishes back home. Fired chicken: the lingua franca food of the planet!

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