weChat comes with sets of stickers to use to send to your friends. One of my favorites is this dog “Shiba Inu” and his many moods- shocked, sad, eating, embarrassed, wistful, nervous, etc. See below for the first 16 emotions of Shiba Inu:
The one I never understood was the nosebleed emoji- why the heck would someone send me a nosebleeding dog? (other sticker sets also contain central characters gushing blood out of their nostrils).
It never occurred to me to ask someone what the nosebleed means, until I recently had a female friend telling me about a guy who was so hot she was “about to have a nosebleed!” 都快流鼻血了！BINGO! I was onto something.
So last week during a class break I asked my students what it means to have a nosebleed. The girls giggle and struggle to come up with a coherent explanation. Finally, they pull out a smartphone and go on BaiDu and look it up. “so… when a person gets excited, their blood starts rushing faster and faster through their body… then to relieve the pressure, the blood must come out somewhere! And the membranes of your nostrils are the thinnest in your body- so, you get a nose bleed”
This is definitely some Eastern medicine kind of theory, like Yin and Yang, Qi, and internal heat. For example, every Chinese person knows not to eat too many lychee in one sitting, because it will set your Qi on fire and cause problems for your body. Similarly, a lot of mutton based dishes in Lanzhou are no longer served in the summer, because lamb induces toxic heat in the blood, and its already hot outside. To counter this, many restaurants will serve mung bean soup instead, which cools your Qi. None of this is scientifically proven, but it is all anecdotally true!
Anyway, I laughed when I heard their explanation about the emojis. I was about to say “actually, when a guy gets excited, his blood rushes faster and faster until he gets a…” but I didn’t want to be crass. So during the final presentations, whenever a group asked me if I thought they did a good job, I replied “SO GOOD! I’M ABOUT TO GET A NOSEBLEED!!”
Love and Internships
The evenings are getting much warmer now, and in recent weeks I’ve seen a lot of my Sophomores practicing roller skating at the student plaza a few minutes walk from my apartment. Sometimes Coulson or Vivian will text me to come out, and I will join them for an hour or two at night to catch up on life.
Mary tell me a hilarious story about how they haven’t slept well at night the past week, because some guy has been coming around at midnight to their dormitory (breaking curfew!! Omg!), screaming the name of a girl and telling her he likes her. As in “I LIKE YOU. I LIKE YOU SO MUCH!!” 我喜欢你！我好喜欢你！
So now, the hundreds of girls living in the same dorm all must suffer this nightly nuisance until he either gets rejected, gives up, or is told he is liked in return. This is called “表白” which means to “express your sincerity” but I think its more prostrating/ humiliating yourself in public to show you are willing to give up your dignity for the sake of love.
Mary told me guys generally start courtship by writing a page long letter about the first time he saw the girl and fell in love with her, and couldn’t stop thinking about her ever since. However, most guys skip the first step now, and go straight to screaming like a maniac outside the girl’s dorm at night.
More importantly, the girls tell me about their upcoming semester, which generally requires an internship, since we are at a 3 year vocational school. The department has given them three selections to choose from, in addition to the option of finding their own job:
- Go to Xinjiang to work as a Chinese teacher at an elementary school in Hotan
- Go to Shanghai to work at an international hotel
- Go with China National Petroleum Corp to Pakistan, Iraq, Central Africa to grow vegetables and cook for the Chinese men who work on the oil fields
We all agree the last option is the worst, since these regions with oil are unstable, and nothing good will come from working as farmer surrounded by a group of middle aged men. (lots of nosebleeds!) The students who had the most interest in learning English have signed up to go to Shanghai, and hopefully they will have many opportunities to practice their English with foreign guests. The rest have hesitantly applied to go to Hotan and become teachers for a semester. (Fun fact: the program is willing to pay for flights for these internships, and none of my students have flown before, so they are all really excited about getting to site!)
I feel bittersweet about all this, since we have become good friends over the course of a year, and I’ve become comfortable with running into the Sophmores all over campus and sharing stories, dinner, laughs, and unsolicited advice about relationships or buying an iPhone. It will feel strange not seeing them in the fall, with last minute requests to meet filling up my calendar
But nothing is forever, and we all keep moving forward with our lives and make the best decisions we can. As Alyssa told me – with her roller skate wheels glowing in the dusty night – “I used to think we have so much time as students! I never thought we would need to make such an important decision by the end of the week.”