The Spring Fulbright Orientation is proving a very interesting experience – exposing how much we have all changed since we attended the August orientation. Here are just a few of the things I have noticed.
1. The Beijing accent is strikingly different from the Guangzhou accent. The jury is still out on what language we are all speaking even though we think we are speaking putonghua (which, incidentally, is not a word that folks living in the North even seem to know).
2. I speak enough Chinese that I can communicate on my own with the waitstaff and sales clerks, that you very much!
3. Our daughters have grown-up a great deal. There are 5 Fulbright kids here – all girls under the age of 10 and all pretty good at Chinese.
4. Our Chinese experience is unlike any other Fulbrighters in many ways – the age of our children, our choice to stay on campus and use Chinese school, and our location in Guangzhou and in close proximity to Hong Kong combine with a host of other particularities to make our time here what it is. The more I speak with others, the more I feel like we have done this year in the right way for us.
5. The food in the local, inexpensive restaurants seems to taste better than the food in the expensive, fancy restaurants.
6. My spouse is, in some ways, a different person. Long hair, untucked shirt and washed jeans, a jade pendant on a red string around his neck – and these are just the superficial changes. Wait ’til you see him and get a chance to talk.