I could get used to this

I could get used to this

Sarah Halter The English-speaking students at SDUT are a delight! They love to introduce themselves, and they always ask if it is our first time in China and if we are enjoying our experience so far.

Even though it was only the second day, I always answered, “Yes!” to such questions.

Many of the students who provided us a tour of the campus are English majors, like I am. When I tell them I am an English major, they are almost confused. They probably think, “Why is a native speaker of the English language studying English?”

I think their English classes focus more on speaking and learning the language, which is entirely different than the mould of my English curriculum at Bloomsburg University that includes creative writing, literature studies, and linguistics. For now on, I think I may answer “writing” when they ask me what fields I study.

The cafeteria, or “canteen,” as they call it here, has a wide variety of Chinese lunch foods. I’m excited to try some of the savory options. For lunch today, I only had rice and watermelon because my appetite was suppressed due to the intense heat. There was also a little store where people can purchase snacks and bottled tea and water, which was quite convenient.

We pay for our meals with a little card that has a certain amount of yuan charged to it. It’s similar to the flex account at BU.

Today (June 5) was also our first English Corner at Remin Park. The park was located in Zibo City, which is right down the road from SDUT. A taxi drove us, and I thought we were going to wreck, but we arrived without any scrapes or bruises.

It turns out driving in China is much more aggressive than it is in the United States. Drivers blow their horns and switch lanes often.

Out of everything so far, I can say I enjoyed the English Corner experience the most. At the park, English-speaking residents of Zibo City and SDUT attend a session where we, the American guests, chat with them so they can practice their English.

We began the event with guitars!

Some of the SDUT students brought along guitars, and I was able to play a song along with Dan (Copes), another guitar player in my group. I played “Somebody,” an old folk song by Connie Dover.

The guitars were quite out of tune, but we made our songs work! It was wonderful to have been able to play for such an appreciative audience at Remin Park.

All of the students, some who were middle-school aged, were so happy to speak with us, and this brought such joy to my heart. They were people who knew absolutely nothing about me except that I was a foreigner and a native speaker of English, and yet our connections seemed so jovial and free.

I loved talking to them.

Popular conversation included introductions and asking questions including “How long have you been speaking English?” and “Where are you from?” as well as “What is your name?”

I spoke to a lot of people, and I gave my email address to two girls who were excited to have made a new friend. Another middle school girl, Li, gave me a big hug when we were about to leave, and said that she would see me at the next English corner!

I can’t wait until the next English Corner to see the group I met and meet new

After English Corner, we ate dinner at a little restaurant in Zibo City! We ate a chicken barbecue style Chinese dinner. The Chinese chicken served in the pots was different from any U.S. barbecue.

There were even chicken feet, but I wasn’t quite ready to try them quite yet. Noodles were also present. The noodles were similar to the instant Ramen noodles, but they were even more delicious alongside a Chinese chicken broth and other vegetables.

I think this will be one of the more memorable days of this entire experience, for I had much to say. I’m still taking everything in, but I couldn’t be happier to be here right now.

    — Sarah Halter, a senior English major