Being a foreigner provides a life where nothing--not even buying bread--is dull. Even after living here 4 years, I still run into "culture moments."
This weekend, I went to buy some bread to make some sandwhiches. The little bakery near my house sells wheat bread in a package labled in English "brown toast." I saw the package, grabbed a loaf, went to the counter and paid.
When I got home to make my comfort food--PBJ--I pulled out two slices of bread. But it was not wheat bread like I was expecting. No, it was raisin bread. They had put rasin bread in the "brown toast" package. Now, granted there was probably a sign on the shelf at the bakery saying "rasin bread"--but I didn't stop to try to decipher it. So, as I slathered the extra-crunchy peanut butter on my knife, I sighed and thought "never a dull moment."
Another thing that is NEVER dull for me is using an elevator. At school now, I ride the elevator often (my office is on the 9th floor). 4 out of 5 times I ride the elevator, I have a "not dull" moment. :)
Yesterday, the conversation was in English with, I guess, a teacher from another department.
Stranger: "Are you happy?"
Amanda (looking around, unsure question was for her and unsure how to answer and thinking "what kinda question is that for someone you don't even know"): "Uh . . Sure."
Stranger: "Good. I am not happy."
Stranger: "I am not happy because I have to go to work."
Amanda: "I see." (gets off the elevator)
Stranger: "Nice to meet you. Bye." (doors close)
Last week, the most memorable encounter was with students. The elevator was going down--and it was FULL by an American's opinion. (I must add here: If the elevator is an "American full," it is probably only about half of a "Taiwanese full.") So anyway, the elevator was full--all engineering students (AKA all boys).
When it got to the English department floor (4th floor) the boys moved over, making some room for the foreign English teacher and said in English, "Come on, come on." I got in, and as the doors shut there was a chorus of giggles. Then from the back, one of them whispered in Chinese, "Watch out! Careful what you say, she understands Chinese." I nodded a yes and waited for the first floor to arrive.
I think the thing with the elevators at school is that everyone knows who I am--I kinda stand out, you know. But, I don't know them. So to me they are strangers, but they feel like they "know me." So, I am always having awkward-to-me conversations in the elevators. (However, just for the record, awkward conversations in elevators also occur off school porperty.)
Ahh . .. culture moments. Gotta love em.