You’re probably thinking that Ryan and I are at Madame Tussauds or something, standing next to a wax figure of an ancient kung-fu master. But we’re actually at a tea culture institute and standing in the middle is my new best friend.
I don’t know what his name was, but after watching a short tea ceremony he came out to the courtyard where all the foreign teachers were. (I’ll write more about the institute tomorrow.) I stood back, away from the crowd, and he was standing next to me. I really wanted to talk to him, he looked so nice, and cool, but what am I, a barely functioning speaker, going to say to this great tea master?
Luckily he broke the ice, asking me what kind of tea I liked. I said black tea and flower tea. Then I asked him what he liked. We talked for a little bit, maybe 5 minutes, and to be perfectly honest I didn’t entirely understand what he was talking about. But it was really fun! I was super nervous, especially as there was no translator around, but I think I got the jist of what he was saying. But despite the language barrier we liked each other right from the start. Pheromones or something.
After our brief conversation I didn’t see him again until on our way out. He came out to take a picture with all of us and I got to talk with him again. There were a lot of people around, listening, which made me really nervous, but he had this calming energy around him, and I told him it was really nice to meet him. We took a picture and soon a number of other people surrounded him to take a picture with him.
As we were being shooed back to the bus by the tour leader I wanted to say goodbye. So I touched his arm to get his attention and said “zaijian.” He said “I really like you!” and I said back, “I really like you,” (which made everyone around us laugh.) It was a really awesome experience.
I know my friends from home think I am living an exotic life, but the truth of the matter is, I’m not. I wake up, eat breakfast, go to work, watch some TV shows, read some books, do some writing. During the school year my life is very average, and slightly boring. Lately I’ve been wondering why I spend so much time learning Chinese. I mean, sure it is helpful to learn the language of the country you are living in, but what will I do after? I spend a lot of time and energy learning and sometimes I think it’s a waste. I even skipped 2 chinese classes last week.
But then I have an experience like this, and I realize why. If I hadn’t studied Chinese, then I would have had no confidence to speak to him at all, even in hand gestures or with the help of a translator. And that would have been a shame. I would have missed out on a totally unique experience. So I’ll continue to slog through class and occasionally talk to strangers just to make my life a little more interesting!