With apologies to Seinfeld, the past two weeks have been filled with me feeling like royalty. People here in my new home treat me, their token, tall white friend they can practice their English phrases with in passing, as if I am some sort of king, smiling widely and graciously welcoming me into whatever home or restaurant or business they happen to be associated with.
So far I've met a few neighbors in my building. One elderly woman called me a "zhongguotong," or literally "a China hand." It's like what we'd call someone like Steve Nash, who is really Canadian, but we like him so much and hes funny, so we try to claim him as our own, since after all he is now an expert of US culture after living there so many years. I think she went a little overboard, but hey, I guess I'll take all of the praises I can get for having barely passable Mandarin language skills.
Many children have also come running out of their parents laps to say hello to the new "laowai," ("old foreigner" literally...its not really a cut down, but it kinda is). I politely keep my cool and am still pretty good at responding to them kindly. Hopefully I can keep that up for a long time.
But the thing that makes me feel most like a king here is my apartment. And when I say kind, I mean like a really manly princess. Thanks, landlord. Not only is it plenty big enough for me and my 2 roommates, especially compared to student dorms which often fit 4 sets of bunk beds in a single room, but the decor is set for royalty. However, I think our landlord didn't get the memo that American men aren't keen on having an apartment full of glittering things, especially like the light fixtures posted above. Yes, those are hearts and stars and crystal disco ball looking things that refract all sorts of harsh light all over my room when I turn it on. Additionally, there is a faux Victorian Era chandelier that was incorrectly installed in our living room and we fear that at any moment it could come crashing down like in an Indiana Jones film.
Overall though, I love this place. The location isn't really close to school, unfortunately, so its a nice 20 minute moped ride to class and to meet friends there. But right now, its a very sufficient castle, where we can relax and watch (legal...) DVD's, eat meals (sometimes...you know, if there's food here), and sleep soundly.