In preparation for our trip to Beijing this week (this week!!!), Friday was Jacket Check Day, where I had all my lovely but naive students bring their jackets in for me to check that they were indeed going to be warm enough. I told them that winter jackets and spring/fall/autumn jackets are not necessarily the same thing. I told them that in Beijing they will be the coldest they have ever been in their life.
So on Friday, one student dilligently came to me with a plastic bag. Out of it he pulled what I call a woollen sweater. Very nice, cream colored. I laughed and said "that's a sweater not a jacket". The poor student wouldn't believe me! When I said that if that was all he had, then he'd need at least 5 layers, his jaw dropped to the floor. I said... "what about the wind? what about if it rains?" and they said, but on the internet it says it's 11 degrees (centigrade). I said, yes, at around noon, and that doesn't take into consideration a wind (from Siberia) chill of -5. So off the poor kid wandered, now determined to go out and get something a little more suitable.
Overall though, I got the same thing over and over again. It's a real challenge to take tropical kids into a 4 season enviroment. I can't decide if I want it to be freezing so that I don't look like the fool, or if I want it to be warm so that they aren't all miserable. Can you imagine being on the Great Wall or in the wind tunnel that is the Forbidden City with the winds of Siberia at your back wearing a sweater? Keep in mind that they're wearing long sleeves here and it's pushing 30 degrees. Their winter just doesn't prepare them for the real thing.
Still, of the one or two that did get it right, it was pretty hilarious watching them pose like some kind of gangsta, arms crossed, all tough-looking, with the fluffy hoods around their heads. Still others came in with their parents clothing--ancient really out of fashion looking things. They have no idea that they're hideous of course--winter fashion doesn't reach here. It's refreshing in many ways that because they're together, it won't matter, because they're all as clueless as one another.
Trying to explain long underwear was also pretty interesting--is there a name that isn't a brand that crosses cultures, that these kids would have heard of. I couldn't think of it anyway. Long-johns. In NZ we call it poly-propelenes! Haha.