Wednesday, August 20, 2008

wednesday is a good day.

ah, another good day in china. everyday is a new adventure and today was an especially good one. jenna and i had our new resident physical this afternoon, which meant no food after 9am (they want an empty system for the blood test). that being the case, we decided on a heavy breakfast of street food. kaitlin took us to her favorite one by the school - some sort of dough/egg wrap with garlic, onions, bean paste and some sort of fried onion wafer. ok, it sounds bad but it was actually really good. and like 50 cents. rock on.

after a few hours of "work" preparing our classrooms, one of our fabulous chinese teachers took jenna and me to the international clinic for our physical. i have a feeling it will be one of my most memorable experiences in china. first of all, there are several buildings and it took us 3 tries to find the entrance we needed. when we finally found it, they had us fill out a form and then sent us back to the first building to have our picture taken. when we got that all straightened out, our physical experience could begin. it goes something like this:

they send you back to a room that looks something like a big dressing room with some lockers. a nice chinese nurse hands you a folded up robe and tells you with her hands that everything has to go. only after you go into the changing room do you realize that it's just a shirt and, luckily, your pants get to stay. after putting your things in a locker, she then directs you down the hall to an open room where you walk in, hand the chinese doctor your form and wonder what will happen next. and so it goes for the next room, and the next, all the way down the hall. well, mostly down the hall. the x-ray portion happens in a blue bus parked next to the building. yeah, a bus. where you stand on a box and they x-ray your whole body...or maybe just your torso, i'm not really sure. there's also a vision check, a general exam, a blood sample, an ultrasound (of your abdomen, i still don't know why) and, my personal favorite, an EKG. that one was actually a little bit scary. you walk in and go behind this screen to find a doctor's office bed with a sheet, a pillow, some random metal clamps and a couple wet spots. the nurse motions for to lay down and open your robe. she then proceeds to clamp metal clamps to your ankles and wrists and stick other strange metal things to your chest. in the end, you realize that she's just looking at your heartbeat, but somehow, with the language barrier and the underdeveloped country, it's a little bit terrifying.

all in all, it was perfectly harmless and just amusing, but it was amazing to me just how much scarier it was with the language barrier. you never knew what was going to happen and the staff couldn't really tell you ahead of time. none of them spoke more than a few words of english - just the ones they really needed for the task at hand. you really had to just follow the hand gestures and trust that it would be ok. i was also amazed at just how much could be accomplished without much verbal communication at all. there are some things that you almost can't do without talking, but so many things for which it is superfluous. while language may ease the transaction, it is unnecessary.

after the physical, jenna and i were pretty ready for some food, so, after a brief stop for olympic memorabilia, Carol took us to Metro City for dinner. after a lap and a half around the food court of chinese food, we ended up at pizza hut. which was actually kind of nice because it was familiar, but not. at home, pizza hut is fast food. here it is fine dining. after being seated in the classy restaurant by one of the many waitresses wearing blouses covered in the words pizza hut, we ordered cappaccino's and marveled at the forks. i don't think i've really been here long enough to appreciate the significance of a fork at a restaurant, but it was the first one we'd seen outside of our apartment since we got here. and i have yet to actually eat at my apartment. we also were amused by the fact that pizza hut offers tea time. i'm still on clear on what that means, but they definitely don't do that at home. nor do they have smoothies, cappaccino, appetizers or chocolate cake.

anyway, we ordered boring pizza, but you can get it with all kinds of random things here like salmon, carrots, probably tofu. we also orderd the salad bar, the contents of which are much like at home but the rules are very different. i'm not sure if we ordered one or three, but they brought us one little bowl and told us we had one trip. so we made it count. as carol said, we exercised our skills. when the pizza finally came, it was tiny! i don't even think it was as big as a small at home, but i don't really know. i don't think i've ever ordered a small pizza. thing is, i don't think the large would have been very big either. that's just not what they do here. anyway, it tasted pretty much like home and while i wasn't really craving american food yet, it was nice get a taste of what home looks like, china-style.

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