The day started out much like any other. I woke up before I wanted to, my eyes still heavy with sleep. I had the usual breakfast of eggs and fruit and headed to the school. It was especially hot today, my host mother warned me, but I didn’t think much of it as I rushed out the door. I probably should have listened, because it was really hot, I later thought.
Our first activity for the day was going to Yangzhou University to take a cooking class. Today was a bit of an off day so we didn’t have service. We took a public bus to the university, and I quickly took a seat next to an old Chinese gentleman when James told me the trip was quite long. After getting off the bus at the gate, we began to walk. The walk was long and the sun was hot, making my clothes stick everywhere. We finally made it to our building after some suffering and were escorted by some students from the university to the right room. It was a large room with a whole cooking set and a big monitor to make sure everybody could see properly. The chef showed us how to make 3 dishes. One was Yangzhou fried rice, the second was zhu pai, a dish of fried pork, and the third was a dish whose name has slipped my mind. It was made with tomatoes and eggs all stirred together in the wok. It was definitely my favorite dish. After that we got to try our own in the kitchen next door. It is very hard, I learned, to cut pork so thinly, and I mangled my first attempt. But eventually I got the hang of it. It is very difficult, I might add, to try and learn how to cook when all the instructions are Chinese, or rapid hand movements accompanied by broken English. Nevertheless, I persevered, and I think the dishes came out…decent. After many pictures and goodbyes to the university students, we left the university to get back to the high school.
It was even hotter now at midday, and the walk back was torturous. Thankfully, I had Lan’s umbrella with me to help. I might have looked quite silly holding my small, pink striped umbrella above my head to all of the passing university students, but hey, I would gladly sacrifice my masculinity for a little bit of shade. After returning to the high school, we sat in on classes that our host siblings were taking. The first was English class, where we worked on ACT prep. Quite the bore for me, for obvious reasons. The second class I was without my host brother. It was hard to tell what class it was. I thought at first it was a history class, but we talked about gun control and LGBT issues in the US, leading me to believe it was more of an ethics/foreign affairs kind of class.
The last class I had was US History, which I had with my host brother. We talked about a book called Unbroken which was about American POWs in Japan. I’m pretty sure they made a movie about it. After that and then dinner, we had our culture class for the night. When we walked into an aerobics studio and started doing flying kicks and the like, I was upset because there was no way that I would be able to do these things well in the clothing I was wearing. Also I was really sweaty. Nobody told me we were going to do Kung Fu. But after the acrobatics, we walked outside into the cool, night air to work on hand to hand combat. I have to say the things that the instructor taught us were pretty cool. I just wish I remembered it all. I’m seriously considering trying this out further when I get back to the States. I feel like these skills could prove useful. But anyway, it got dark quickly and we called it a day. I rather enjoyed this day a lot and so far it is my favorite day of the trip. I guess I just needed the day off. But tomorrow it’s back to service, and I wonder what new things China will throw at me.