On Wednesday, I had a language practicum which involved going to a restaurant with my teacher and asking for a menu, ordering a meal without, meat, gluten, soy or msg, ordering a beverage and getting the check. All good skills! But I nearly cried when she said I had to ask a stranger for directions. Speaking in Mandarin, I asked a man who was repairing a street light where the restaurant was, but he didn’t understand me. My teacher was standing next to me and telling me what to say. It was all very awkward. I didn’t know what the man was saying to me and didn’t know what I was supposed to do next. Then a student walked by (we’re on a college campus) and said in English “It’s that way.” Kind of hilarious. The rest of our excursion was fine. That’s language boot camp, no big deal.
And trying things…
After class I had plans to meet Nick who teaches at Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. I was given his email address by a friend when I was working on my Fulbright application, and he had read over my proposal and given me some tips. I was looking forward to meeting him, but I couldn’t get my phone to load the directions. (The internet on campus can be slow, and I later realized the roaming on my phone was turned off. Nice. Still figuring things out.) I had looked them up the day before so I knew the subway stop, and I knew the restaurant wasn’t far. I figured I’d just get close and then ask directions. I mean, I practically aced my practicum, right? Maybe this was my do-over.
I made it to the subway stop and asked directions, in Mandarin and English, from many people. One woman I asked stayed with me to help until we found a police officer who smartly recommended I ask at a nearby hotel. I received excellent directions from the concierge, found the restaurant and had a great time with Nick and his wife Lindsay. Thank goodness for so many kind people who tried to help but just had no idea where an expat restaurant was.