The small things I really, really love about China:
1. The Hair Affair: All the really "hip" Chinese boys style their hair in the most ridiculous way. It's usually grown out and wild, sometimes curled, sometimes straightened. Many chose to die their hair different colors, but some go beyond and actually bleach their hair, which turns their hair color into an interesting orange. I wish I had a collection of photos demonstrating the various styles. These styles can most commonly be found in hair salons; it is an absolute must for hair stylists to rock these styles. The best part of it all is that all these boys think they are being "Western," but that is not the case at all. The only Westerner that could pull of the Hair Affair is a rock star, and even then it's a little bit ridiculous.
2. Nighttime Walking: At Xingtan College, all the student couples walk around the track at night and hold hands. It makes me feel as if I'm at camp and all the campers sneak away from their cabins to meet their secret lover. The truth is that the nighttime walk makes sense because all the students have seven other roommates, so there is obviously no privacy. I love taking walks at night and seeing all the silhouettes of the couples walking around the track. When the weather is really nice (like it was last night), it seems like all of campus is coupled up and having their moment at the track.
3. Musical China: Everywhere I go, there is some sort of music blaring. When all the classes on campus are finished for the day, the speakers play an assortment of loud music for half an hour. The selection is quite interesting, ranging from Chinese pop to Christmas carols to Faith Hill. The bell that signifies class being over is an Irish jig; it makes me laugh every time, but my students just don't see the humor in it. Every store in China seems to think that it will attract customers by playing obnoxiously loud music with the door open. So, when you walk down the street, you are completely overwhelmed with a variety of music as you pass each store. There is also a KTV (karaoke) bar every direction I turn. So far, we have discovered 4 in our small town. One of them is the size of a very large building. It might have something to do with the Chinese loving to sing, and not being shy about it. All my students burst into song whenever they feel like it, and of course ask me to sing as well. I tried to explain to them that Americans are very shy about singing in public, especially when it's a known fact that you don't have a very good singing voice.
4. My Freshmen Students: Out of all four grades, the freshmen are the most excited about learning. They are also very excited to be speaking to a foreigner for the first time in their lives. On the first day of class, everyone in one of my freshmen classes told me I had beautiful golden hair and amazing big, blue eyes. All the boys told me I was very attractive. It may have boosted my confidence a little, but it was very awkward standing in front of the class and having students throw these compliments at me. A couple of my male students have stopped by my apartment to talk to me, and it was really nice getting to know them outside of the classroom. We talked about a variety of things, including their lives and what they hope to accomplish by learning English, but also spent time looking at their Chinese Facebook accounts. They were really determined to download QQ for me, which is a Chinese instant messenger, so I could talk to them online. It's been difficult for me to figure out how to approach being friends with a student; I have to make sure they respect me as a teacher, but as the same time, I am only three years older than them (the senior students are all 23, which is actually older than me!) and enjoy their company as friends. It seems to be working out so far, but we'll see how it all develops.