The cherry season is here, and it shows. People are gathering at the Liberal Arts campus to see the sakura trees, a gift from the Japanese to the university, leaving the other campuses feeling like sanctuaries. I attended a lecture — held in Mandarin — aimed at science teachers, themed “how to teach in a better way, using technology as a pedagogical aid”. This is my field to a T! I made some new friends, and I have learned things again. Here you are:

  1. There are several herds of dogs, about 3-5 dogs in one herd, living in different parts of the campus. They seem to be everyone’s pet (strays) and are not afraid of asking for food or shelter from humans, which they always get. They also appear to be purebred, judging by their calm, non-aggressive mannerisms and general appearance. Their coat is usually clear-coloured, sometimes fawn or brindle. I’ve seen one merle as well. It seems that the administratives let them roam freely on purpose. People call them according to their home campus “liberals”, “life scientists”, “engineers”. Here at the school of international education we have two malamutes(?), one Gordon Setter and one basenji(?). Literally our own campus dogs! I’m in doggie heaven here.
  2. When you greet a Chinese person, they sometimes don’t respond verbally. Instead, they wave at you frantically, even if you’re just half a metre away.
  3. At seminars or lectures, warm food is served to all participants. This is because most of them are teachers, and don’t have the time to go to lunch, because they have to resume work immediately after the lecture.
  4. Gender equality is adeptly achieved here, at least among science teachers. There are as many women as professors or in other prominent positions as there are men.
  5. Natural science students tend to refer to places by their cardinal points instead of the traditional left and right. “Turn west, then walk x metres, then head southeast!” I wonder how this works when the asker finds themselves inside a building.
  6. When speaking to a Chinese person, you need to use a honourific title. Luckily, you will be forgiven for disuse if you’re a foreigner. Otherwise, everyone is addressed differently, depending on their age, occupation, and general appearance, even the company they keep. If the person looks like they’re highly educated, you refer to them as “laoshi” 老师, “teacher”, “honoured teacher” or “master”. “Comrade” is more often used if the person looks like he/she is doing physical work or is an official, for example a police officer or a military officer. Older people do this to younger people as well. Students are referred to as “honoured comrades”, “kindred mates”. (My Finnish friends and I seem to have an unwittingly Chinese habit, since we refer to each other as “comrades” at home as well!)
  7. There are many teachers teaching one subject. They use technological aids to help one another out during lessons, since each is an expert in a specific field related to the subject in question. For example in biology, one can be an expert on cell mechanisms, another on freshwater fish and so on. This is a good teaching strategy.


Some pictures from the lecture and the engineering campus. I also did some campus touring on my way back to get nice pictures for you of the cherry blossom. The rainy season is almost here, and the weather is getting unpredictable. They day started out sunny, then came the first rain and now it’s cloudy. Summer is on its way! I’ve also been checking out some student activities organised here. There are several language clubs, sports groups, cultural clubs and general hang-out groups, so if you’re bored, you’ve got plenty of choices when contemplating how to spend your time. I’ll try to write about that next time!