A little more than 2 years ago, I started this blog. And just about 2 years ago I wrote about my birthday. What did I do to celebrate the big 3-3 back in 2009? Well, let’s take a ride in the way back machine and see.
But yes, today is my Birthday. I turned 33. My big plans for the day are
- Doing laundry
- Going to the doctor for a physical
- Running errands
Sometimes being an adult is no fun.
Not very exciting. In fact, aside from a few notable exceptions (like a 30th surprise party and a couple wild Becky’s Birthday Picnic’s) my birthday have been, by and large, quite boring. The problem lies in the fact that my birthday falls right as school ends. When I was younger I spent a couple of birthday’s totally alone because my friends had already packed up and went to visit their grandparents, or gone to Disney or some other summer plans. And I was so jealous when my friends got to bring in cupcakes into school for their birthday, cause I never got the chance.
But now the timing of my birthday seems just right. The students finish their exams usually on my birthday and are ready to kick back and relax. Last year I found a great barbeque spot at the foot of a mountain and this year I invited 4 classes to join me.
Sometimes being an adult sucks because you have a lot of added responsibilities and pressures. But other times, it’s awesome because it means you can throw yourself a party just the way you want it!
So we rented out a big field at the foot of a nearby mountain. We had 10 grills and as soon as we arrived (packed like sardines in tiny local buses) we set up and began cooking.
The students brought their own food to cook, including a ton of corn. They had huge plastic bags filled with corn, with ears spilling out onto the ground, and when I remarked on how much corn they had, one student told me they were going to become corn farmers. I ate one ear of corn and spent the rest of the night turning down offers or more.
In addition to the normal food, Ryan cooked up some good old American grub, namely burgers! Ground beef is a rarity here and involves an early morning trip to the grubby and disgusting meat market. It’s not easy and therefore we only do it about once a year. But we wanted to the students to have a chance to eat a “real” American burger, and though we only had about 30 patties, everyone was able to share. One student, Super, was Ryan’s official burger helper and she assembled the burgers with ketchup, lettuce and tomatoes and passed them out.
Another food Ryan made was potato salad. We didn’t have a ton, but I walked around with the bowl so everyone could have a little taste. ‘Traditional American barbeque food,’ I kept telling them. Mayonnaise is not such a big condiment here, many of them had never heard of it before, but the potato salad was a hit (especially with the other foreign teachers as it has been a long time since any of us has had it).
The gate to the mountain was open, and many students walked around and enjoyed the scenery. Some brought games, and I got to play a few hands of Uno despite being invaded by mosquitoes. (I even won a hand.)
When it got dark, we started to clean up to leave, but before we squeezed back into the awaiting buses we decided to take pictures. And pictures. And pictures. I had to take pictures with every class, then every group of roommates, then just about every person. Taking pictures with each other is much more than just a pastime here, it is basically an art form (I cringe to wonder on what websites and blogs pictures of me will end up.)
After we got home, exhausted but happy, I got to open my presents. The best present was from my friend Color. He’s an engineering major and actually made me a robot car! The car has sensors and can automatically follow any black line on the ground.
It took him 5 days to make, and considering he is a senior and they were his last 5 days at school, I really appreciate the effort it took him. After the party Color and his girlfriend came over to show us how the robot car worked. Here’s a short video of the car in action.
A lot of the other presents showed how well my students know me. I got a lot of homemade thing (my favorite) like flowers, a cross-stitch wall hanging, a homemade notebook, an adorable giraffe stuffed animal, and 2 students gave me a framed picture of the class. I also got a lot of cute things like banks and notebooks and a box full of candy (which is always a win for me.)
Two years ago I was sitting at home, going to the doctors and doing laundry. Of course I was dreaming of China then, but even in my wildest most optimistic dreams I could never have imagined what my 35th birthday would be like. I’m extremely grateful for not only my time in China, but for the students I have and the friends I’ve made.