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That was my favorite piece of trash-talking from last night’s USA-England World Cup match.

A drunk Englishman laid that one on me just before the opening kickoff, as we watched the match on a gigantic projector screen in what used to be the beer garden of a popular Irish pub but is now something approaching a minor league ballpark, complete with temporary stadium seating, concession stands serving international snacks, and a face-painting booth that will paint your country’s flag on your face if you forgot to do so at home before leaving for the bar. It’s called O’Malley’s, and if you happen to be in Shanghai during the World Cup you should really check it out.

As it turned out, BP did quite a bit more damage to the Gulf of Mexico than Rooney and company did to Team USA. But by the end of the night, one thing was proven beyond any doubt. There is simply no match for the Brits when it comes to soccer chants.

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The Sports Meeting

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The engineers were the big winners last weekend at Yangzhou Tech’s first annual inter-college Olympics.

The event, which my students described as “The Sports Meeting,” featured an extremely long list of sporting events spread out over two days. These ranged from traditional track and field events to the sort of contests you would expect to find at a family barbecue.

The competitors were all students at our school, with each department fielding a team. The engineering department finished first, and sported some very cool orange construction helmets for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies (apparently the helmets are a symbol for engineering, a student tells me).

Our department, which includes students majoring in English, French, accounting, and business management, finished sixth. But we still got two snazzy banners (below), which look exactly the same as the winner’s banner to someone who can’t read the words “sixth-place finisher” in Mandarin.

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The bulk of the action was on the track, where there were a few competitive races sandwiched between things like the girls’ shot put, which involved about a dozen 90-pound girls in Yangzhou Tech track suits trying to toss a shot put as their friends cheered them on.

There were also a series of bizarre events, like a contest over who could ride a bicycle the slowest. The entire roster of events, which I foolishly attempted to leaf through to find the two I was meant to participate in, was roughly the size of a short screenplay. It was also written entirely in Chinese characters, which is why I ended up participating in just one event, which ended up being a race across the basketball court while balancing a ping-pong ball on a ping-pong paddle.

But the whole thing was taken quite seriously by most of the students, and it was quite a thing to watch.

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I spent much of the weekend playing pick-up basketball games with students and some of the younger faculty. At one point, the school’s president came by, and we watched proudly as he attempted to make a short jump shot. He missed a half-dozen or so times before giving it up and moving on to something else, but the faculty was buzzing long after he left about how wonderful it was that the president was out playing basketball, just like everyone else.

It was like our very own presidential-candidate-serves-food-at-the-diner moment.

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Here’s Shadow, one of my students, in her Yangzhou Tech track suit. Shadow was one of the competitors in the girls’ shot-put, and she also tried her hand in the long jump.

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The faculty foot races were particularly comical. The guy on the left is actually one of my former students from my faculty English class last semester. Sadly, he lost to the very athletic bespectacled gentleman in lane three.

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And since no event is complete without someone wearing a completely inappropriate T-shirt with something ridiculous written across the chest in English, we have a student in the long jump competition sporting a striped shirt that says “Dsquared Fucking” on it.

Hard to believe I was the only person there who thought it might not be the best idea to have the word “Fucking” prominently displayed on one’s shirt during an inter-college long jump competition, but no one seemed to think anything of it. I may have to do a unit on profanity at some point.

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And here is the engineering department, rocking their helmets at the Closing Ceremony. The flag-bearer, by the way, has to be the tallest 19-year-old in Jiangsu Province.

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HANGZHOU – It’s official. Seinfeld has made its way to China.

On my first evening in Hangzhou, I decided to visit the absurdly enormous supermarket/shopping mall that is about four or five blocks from my new apartment. It’s one of those classic Asian mega-stores that make Wal-Mart look like a 7-11. It’s at least seven times larger than any store a non-Chinese person would ever want to shop in, and there are at least three bigger supermarkets in downtown Hangzhou alone.

As I made my way past the mid-sized aquarium that is the live seafood section, I spotted a middle-aged Chinese woman with George Costanza’s favorite break-up line printed in stylish black lettering across the chest of her tank-top: “It’s not you, it’s me.”

I can’t imagine she has any idea what that means, but I was, of course, thrilled.

PS: I live in Hangzhou now.

I’ll be here for the next three weeks doing an Olympics-themed summer camp for primary school students. After that, it’s on to Beijing for what could be the most interesting Olympics of my admittedly short lifetime (I wasn’t around for the 1980 Games in Moscow), and what will almost certainly be the most crowded ten days of my life (which includes the four days I spent sleeping on the floor of a restaurant at a fully-booked hostel on Koh Phangnan when every hotel on the island was booked for New Year’s).

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New features

Just want to call your attention to some exciting new features on the blog.

I just figured out how to put all my photos online, and how to put a link to them on the blog. So you can now check out all the pictures that I haven’t been able to put on the blog directly. Just click on the “My Photos” link on the sidebar and that will take you to my Picasa page. I’ll try to get photos up there as often as I can.

Also, if you want to read about other TEFLers and their adventures, there are now links to some of their blogs on the sidebar right under my new, exciting photo album link.

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I have a phone!

I finally picked up a phone here in Bangkok. It’s one of those great old-school Nokias with a black-and-white screen and late-’90s-style icons for everything.

Being in Thailand is a bit like reliving my junior year of high school (Linkin Park is huge over here, and everywhere you go they are playing hip-hop songs from about 5 years ago), but it’s great.

Anyway, if you can afford the international rate, give me a call. The number is 0870708146.

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