So I decided that now I am settled in Huzhou, and since my day doesn’t start til 1p.m., that I should probably do something productive with my mornings. Today I had my first gym session in a nice place about 10mins walk from my apartment. As I arrived I was greeted by a very enthusiastic gym instructor, who proceeded to check my height, weight, blood-pressure and body fat index. Towards the end of my ‘consultation’ he suggested that my 20% body fat is too high (it does place me firmly in the average category according to wikipedia), my upper body is too flabby (fair comment) and that I eat far too much (erm, no). I did not care at all for his tone, or the cruel smile that seemed to be on his face when he delivered the news; however later he helped me with some core exercises to supplement this verbal abuse, so I can’t hold a complete grudge. Afterwards I went to have some bread dumplings with pork in the middle and – with the instructors’ words still ringing in my ears – proceeded to eat until I felt sick.
I previously mentioned that I would be judging an English-speaking contest at school this week. My personal highlights so far have been:
1) a story about an american, frenchman and a jew (which last time I checked wasn’t a country) . Whilst I won’t repeat the whole story, the basic idea was that the american ended up smoking cigars, the frenchman bedding women and, you guessed it, the Jew making a lot of money through his successful business. I’m not sure which is more shameful: the telling of the story, or me awarding extra marks for racism purely because it broke the monotony of the day. You decide.
2) the use of a pringle tin and tissue paper to depict a man from the middle east (seriously). The point was to show that teachers should be resourceful and fun in their approach to their lessons. There are literally no words.
As well as helping out with these kind of events, my daytime schedule at school consists of lesson planning and chinese classes, which I have been doing for a couple of weeks now. Learning a language is hard, and made more difficult by using a system of tones (4 of them) that make the same word mean completely different things. For example, mother, said in slightly the wrong way can actually mean horse. This at best could be a little awkward, and in a worst case scenario may involve a wooden box. My hope is to avoid such scenarios and have passable language skills (as well as a lower body fat percentage) by the time I leave. Boy have I got a lot of work to do.