I firmly believe that the quickest way to get to know a new place is to show someone around it. Throwing yourself into navigating a new place on your own leaves a lot of room for getting lost and meaningless wandering. But with house guests, who are usually on a stricter timeline and probably have less patience for meandering, there is often a destination in mind, and it is helpful if you know how to say said destination in Chinese so you can actually get there. Which means after the past two weeks, I should know Chengdu pretty well. It also means that we have a livable guest room, so come visit!
We had house guests! Our first since our move to the new apartment. Phil’s friends from college, Brian and Erin, came out to Chengdu and spent five days here in Sichuan. During our time together we ate a lot of chuancai (Sichuan food), went for some hot pot and hit up a performance of Sichuan opera. It was pretty validating to take these two around and to know where I was going, as it makes Chengdu feel like home more and more. Phil also took his favorite new toy out on a couple of the outings and got some great shots.
We also had a house party! To welcome the coming of the 2010-2011 academic year we invited friends new and old to flex cranial muscles in a rousing game of trivia. It was hard to stump our many friends in the foreign service, but we like to think that they’re not the only smart ones in Chengdu. We were pretty proud of our 7 round quiz on topics including provinces in China, music, movies and flags.
I have school tomorrow! Actually, I’ve had school orientation for the past two weeks but tomorrow is the first day with all the kids. I am very much looking forward to it. These past two weeks have been a baptism by fire into the world of the Chengdu workplace. I am very thankful, however, for awesome new “internationally minded” colleagues. There are about 13 new teachers to the school (which tripled the current faculty) and I probably have the second best Chinese out of all of us (the other one teaches Mandarin – that isn’t saying much). So while showing a person around a city is probably the best way to get to know it, shamelessly trying to translate for a dozen foreign teachers trying to set-up classrooms and apartments is probably the best way to learn Chinese!