Chinese students like to have fun whenever they can. Really, who can blame them? They spend about 40 hours a week in class and an extra 10-20 buried under Everest-sized mountains of homework. They have to find ways to unwind. Favorite pastimes among my students include playing computer games, watching movies, playing basketball, going shopping, riding bikes around town, and singing KTV.
KTV, or karaoke* as it’s known in the West, is one of the must-have experiences in China. It’s right up there with seeing a giant panda and hiking the Great Wall. If you haven’t gone out for KTV at least once then you haven’t really lived in China.
On Saturday, three of the sophomores took my roommates and I out for KTV and dinner. In the afternoon, we went to one of the local KTV parlors and booked a room. Unlike karaoke bars in the States, KTV is not a mode of public humiliation. When you sing KTV, you book a private room with your friends, bring any snacks you want, and choose any and all songs that you want to hear your party belting at the top of their lungs.
We loaded up a mix of Chinese and English songs featuring pop hits like Miley’s “Party in the USA,” classics by Abba and the Beatles, and local favorites like “Xiao Ping Guo” (My Little Apple). Then, we grabbed microphones and a tambourine and jammed out.
One of the best (and worst) things about KTV is that it doesn’t matter if you can sing or not. It’s about having fun with friends. That’s how I found myself standing in front of my students and roommies rapping a rendition of “Magic” by B.o.B. that would have had my high school choir teacher hanging his head in embarrassment on my behalf if he was there. As for my actual audience, I’m pretty sure my students are convinced, for better or worse, that I’m awesome and have the voice of an angel. I sometimes wonder if I should take them to get their hearing checked.
After three hours, we were loosing our voices and decided it was time to head to dinner. It was a great way to spend Saturday afternoon with students. I think we gave Jenna (my newest roommate) a good first KTV experience. Little does she know that there are many, many more to come.