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Yesterday, I went for my “body check” as they call it. It’s a routine physical that is required to qualify for a work visa. I entered the country with a tourist visa because it is processed quickly and easy to obtain. Now that I’m here, the school can work on obtaining a longer lasting visa so that I don’t run into any trouble before my contract expires.

Despite being routine, the physical was surprisingly intense. It included a blood test, sonogram, torso x-ray, blood circulation test, eye exam, ummm…and a few other things, but I wasn’t really sure what they were for, let alone what they were called. At one point, a woman put clamps on my ankles and wrists, and suction cups on my left ribs. That might have been the blood circulation test.

I was hoping I would be able to get my stitches (from a biopsy I had right before leaving for China) taken out while I was there, but the building I went to for the exams was designed for the very specific purpose of visa body checks and nothing else. I’ll have to go to the hospital for the stitches, hopefully tomorrow or Thursday. I’m afraid that they will completely disappear under new skin if I don’t get them out by the end of this week. The spot’s on my upper back and I haven’t looked at it in days, so as far as I know, the stitches may already have disappeared.

I actually had to be x-rayed twice because the stitches on my back caused some alarm. The doctor relaxed when I explained what happened and showed him my back. He had me do this really strange pose too: Hands on hips–but with the hands turned under, so back of hands on hips–and elbows forward. Can you imagine what I’m talking about? It was similar to what you do when you do the chicken dance. I think I’ve seen supermodels do this because it makes your chest sink in and your collar-bone stick out. I looked more crippled chicken than supermodel, I’m sure.

Also, that doctor is in a rock band. He was wearing a cap and jeans to work.

For the body check, I was led down a long hallway lined on one side by ten or twelve evenly spaced rooms, each intended for a specific test. I was instructed to simply make my way down the hall from one room to the next to complete my physical, but it turned out that only about half of the rooms actually had a health care professional in it. I ended up hitting all my marks after going up and down the hallway several times, checking the windows to make sure I caught someone while he/she was in his/her office at the moment. I felt like I was playing that whack-a-mole carnival game. By the way, I noticed that there was a room for surgery. Hrmph. Empty, of course. I’m sure the school nurse can just pull the stitches out, but everyone keeps telling me I need to go to the hospital.

After the physical, I got my visa pictures taken on the business street by a man in his 4′ X 4′ shop, then went to the mall to buy groceries, detergent, and a cell phone! The head teacher who took me there advised me to get a red phone because it would match my coat and is a lucky color. I took her advice.

My lucky Nokia

During our lunch break from noon to two, the other teachers and I went out for some street food. We sampled lots of sweet and savory (and greasy!) buns. One of the them tasted like PB&J. Oh yeah, and spring rolls, mmmmmmmm.

Not buns. Boiled eggs?

Last night, I went to a birthday party for an Australian guy named Dan, a friend of the other foreign teachers. He is very gentle and has a long, flowing, black ponytail. The party was ’90s themed and took place in the upstairs dining area of an Italian restaurant called Little Italy owned by a big Sicilian guy. One of Dan’s other Australian friends, another English teacher in Foshan, was the VJ (video DJ) for the night and took us on a journey through time. She had her entire video playlist organized chronologically. At one point, I was headbanging shamelessly alongside my new best Chinese friend Wendy to Nirvana and The Cranberries. The one thing I know about her is that she loves American “beefcakes” as she calls them.

I met some other interesting people, Chinese and Expat, and got a few new numbers! It’s nice to finally have a phone! Most importantly, I got a good lead on a Mandarin tutor. I hope to start taking lessons soon!