Saturday, August 30, 2008

The foreign import store

Today we went into the big city to go to a store where you can find a lot of American foods. I was so happy to find cheese! They have the Land O Lakes brand and its pretty decent. I was also able to find Philadelphia cream cheese and Ritz crackers. So needless to say there is quite a bit more available than anticipated. There I also found the illy brand of coffee, (Mom will remember me raving about it this summer). I have only found it brewed at the little coffee shop in St Joe Mich by Silver Beach. I think the shop is call Tosi. I discovered it last summer when we frequented Silver beach and I had again this year after our D-Gen trip. I decided I liked it better than Starbucks. However, an 18 oz tin of this coffee was 100 kuai, which is about 15-16 dollars, which is not too bad for coffee in the US if you are really picky like me. Sadly I didn't have enough on me at the time to take it home:( The cheese per 8 oz bar was 36 kuai, and the cream cheese was 29 kuai. I spent 214 kuai on crackers, cheeses and canisters. Ouch... but it was really only 25 or 30 bucks. Not too bad...
So Mom, when you look at cheese prices compared to Kroger, be happy for the cheap deals! I thought of you when I was shopping today!

Later we went to fabric market. Its basically on big auning that could be a building but there are no doors that seal it off. There are tons of merchants, its kind of like a farmers market but with all fabric, buttons, zippers and threads. I bought 2 meters of a pretty patterned material and its lining for around 58 kuai which I will send to a taylor to have a dress or skirt made. I also found a lot scrap bins where I found purple and green eyelet knit material which will cover my couch and chair in my living room. So that should be fun once its all made. :)

Oh and have I mentioned they have KFC in china? I was shocked, it was really good too. You know how we have a choice of buffalo or ranch with the chicken? Well their choices were a sweet soy sauce wrap and a mexican wrap. I had the soy sauce one, it was really good.

Last night a bunch of us went to local restaraunt and had some real authentic chinese food. I had mutton, dragon eggplant(sweet and sour), some type of fried potatoes with some really good gravy and a really spicy chicken dish. Oh my goodness, the mutton! That was fantastic! They pretty much have everything here, but its all a little different. No Applelbees, Fridays or Hacienda but lots of fairly decent places to eat. And for all of you bubble tea lovers, we have three places close by... they call it pearl milk tea. I had coconut the other night, mmmm its better here!

So thats all for now!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Conquering Teaching.

There is a group of students needing to take Oral English before classes started, so we were volunteered to teach one class a week. We taught our first lessons on Wednesday and Thursday, it wasn't bad. I felt very comfortable once things were started. I was surprised at how well the time was managed and how the students responded. Their attitudes about school are much different from what we've experienced in the US. Students in the US typically don't like school and try to just get through it (that is my experience at least). These students enjoy school and are eager to learn English to further themselves in the world. I was really dreading lesson planing but once I started I got really excited and hopeful. I have never taught for longer than 30 minutes in front of a class or to college aged students. It was a good experience. The plan was to start classes later on but this was a surprise, however difficult it was to transition, it was a valuable experience. I feel like I can do anything now that I have conquered my first class. There may be bumps along the way but with any new thing I do there are stages. I am very excited about the first day of class and I am thinking more positively about my skills and the actual breakdown of lessons.

But as far as Chinese lessons are going, its getting more difficult. It would't be as bad if I would study the material but with teaching and lesson planning for next week I have found myself giving lesson planning more precedence, which is how it should be. I really need to follow up on the learning more of the language through out the year. However, one bad thing is that now that I am learning to speak another language, my English is failing! And I have to teach this? I find myself getting tongue tied a lot, maybe because I'm tired or just because there is so much new information coming in!

Sorry there is nothing really fun to read about, its been a week of planning, teaching and Chinese! There will be more from the weekend, we are planning to go to one of the big stores to buy some imported foods. So you all can look forward to that!

That's all for now!


Friday, August 22, 2008

From foot massages to Chinese pizza

Tonight a few of us rented some bikes and rode around to a few new places. There was a returning teacher with us and he took us to a couple neighborhoods around the city. We rode through the park where there were lily pads, beautiful trees and a really pretty lake/body of water, where I heard there is a place where people (typically children) can get inside a giant plastic bubble and try to run inside of it on the water! Its called the hamster ball and its almost impossible to stay up to do, I think that will be my next small adventure :)

Later on we went to get foot massages which were wonderful! The women massaged our feet, shoulders, arms and hands. One of them spoke enough English to say "I teach you Chinese!" and she and the others began pointing out things in the room. She taught us how to say "I want a foot massage" which I can't spell nor will it make any sense to anyone! they were very good about helping us pronounce everything correctly. It was really fun! After taking a few classes I feel like I can understand people better and I am able to communicate with short phrases, so hopefully this will continue and I can go back and have a conversation with those women some day. :)

After massages we went to a popular pizza place where they had every kind of pizza imaginable. I got a pizza with sausage, bacon, onions, etc. when I got it I thought it smelled a little funny which I thought was the cheese, it was mozzarella, so that was normal. Then I saw some meat on it and thought maybe it was something I was unfamiliar with, it was normal as well. Someone else tried it and agreed that it tasted a little funny, so we will know soon enough know what it was, I feel fine but we will see!

So it has been a week now and I feel pretty acclimated to what I have experienced thus far. The one thing that pushed me along was the doctor's office. We went to get physicals and it was a very different experience than in the states. There are about 5 or 6 tests to have done and each person stands in a line and waits their turn while the technicians and doctors go through patient after patient. We did X-rays, EKG's, urine samples, blood tests, and then we got to a room that said medicine and surgery... So we were worried for a while and saw that it was just weight and height! Whew! That was a relief.

Its fairly inexpensive to get around in the city, the bus is 1 kuai, a taxi is 3-5 kuai depending on how far, it costs 1 kuai to rent a bike for the day. There are also motor bikes/scooters but I don't have the courage to get on those yet. Anyway, more of my adventures later!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Riding Bikes Downtown.

So today a bunch of us rented some bikes from outside the university's gate and rode to the large grocery store down town. One thing I have to say about traffic in China is that people will make a path for themselves wherever. There are guards and traffic watch people through out who do a very good job monitoring traffic but the cars, bikes and motorized scooters pretty much have free reign. The other day when we were walking around downtown there was what is called a walking street where people can walk as long as they move out of the way for buses and taxis. It was a fun experience to ride amongst the traffic and almost get hit twice! :) But I haven't seen any accidents even after all the acrobatics...

Later on after dinner all of us went to a place that is known for its caramelized bananas and there are apples and sweet potatoes. We just had the fruit though. The trick is that the second you get the plate on the table you and the group have to take each fried piece and dip it in a bowl of water so they will separate other wise you have a heap of caramel that won't budge. All in all they were delicious and it was a fun experience.

Tomorrow we are going for physicals, that will be fun!

More later!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

BIG Adventures!

So if you all haven't heard by now I AM IN CHINA! This is the most amazing country! Well, in fact it is my first trip to a foreign country... actually I am the foreigner now! :)

Once we landed in Beijing I noticed the landscape, the buildings and of course the characters. The aiport was all decorated for the Olympics and there was a lot of traffic. I was talking with a local Chinese man (maybe about 20 0r so) on the bus and he said that there have been 500 flights to Beijing every day since the Olympics started. Wow. That's a lot of people.

My apartment is great. Some of the rooms are painted from previous residents and some of the them have hot water heaters which is in fact the case for my room. It was a glorious thing to have hot water this moring! My room is painted a light sage-y green and the bedding I brought is purple so it makes a very nice combination. The beds are suprising comfortable, mine has a 2 inch thick foam matress-it just feels like camping with a matress on the ground. And thank goodness for Egyptian Cotton sheets! They are a life saver!

The food is very good, there is a mix of typical American foods and there is some really good and really spicy Chinese food. And I get to use chopsticks at every meal... very fun.

At this point in my journey I am just about settled into my apartment and in desperate need of a massage. Carrying around 100+ pounds of bags through airports and onto several buses. It was worth bringing all I brought but the one thing I should have brought that I didn't was a plug adaptor- my laptop is dead but luckily I have this wonderful compter lab to work in.

As far a Skype goes, I might be able to bring my camera down here if no one is around just cconsideration of others. But if you want to Skype them email me a time that works and we can get on!

Well once again, thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy all my adventures as much as I do!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Small Adventures...

During my time at Camp we have covered a lot ground. Yesterday we did Trust Villages where each person did a series of falls and the others were catchers. It was fun and it linked us closer together as a group. Today we did a low ropes course, it was a lot like slacklining so I felt pretty comfortable doing it. Basically there are three trees and wire cords connecting them. There are two ropes on each tree that are there for support as a person walks across the wire cord. So I took the first like a slackline. It was a lot of fun but holding on to wait for the others to get on the ropes was the tricky part.

Later we scaled a 14 foot wall! I thought they were crazy when I looked at the wall but low and behold, we all worked together to conquer the wall. The rules were that everyone was allowed to help each person to get up as long as they hadn't come down the ladder from the wall. The only people allowed to help were those that had not climbed the wall yet. So at the very end there were three guys, the two got up with various strategies. The very last guy was left to climb the wall, some how :). The guys at the top decided to lower one of themselves down for the other to grab and then pull up. After three attempts and lots of encouragement they made it! It was truly a fun experience. Scary, but very fun.

Also today we learned how to use chop sticks. We dipped gummi worms into pudding, very fun! YUM.

More to come later!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hi to all! Some of you have been asking for more posts so here are some updates.

So I flew to California to Wolf Mountain Camp and its beautiful! It is in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains. The landscape is gorgeous and it is dead silent. I took a picture of the Big Dipper last night with my night shot. It turned out great! Its warm in the 80's and 90's but there is absolutely no humidity and its very dry. I do however like the fact that it is dry. You can actually go outside and not sweat through your clothes in the first 5 minutes! Ah, beautiful Indiana! :)

The time here has been great. I've met about 14 new people and we are all bonding as a family. We are going to be flying to China on the 15th. We arrive in San Fransisco at 9 am and fly at 11 am and 1 pm. I will arrive in China on Sunday their time. So I will miss all of Saturday! Weird. I'm sure the jet lag will be GREAT!

So this is all for now, I will try to update ASAP!

Love you all!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Going Away Party

Last night was my going away party. It was just like I wanted it to be... a fun time with all my close friends before my big trip! My love language is very much Quality Time, so this was perfect. Thanks for everyone that came and brought food! I enjoyed it. Love you all so much!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Off I go!

Hi everyone! I am leaving in 5 days! The time has flown by and I can't believe this is FINALLY happening. There has been so much anticipation of going and such a long time waiting that I am ready to go, now! :) well there are still a few loose ends to tie up, but all in all, I LEAVE IN 5 DAYS! I'm sure you can't detect my excitement... :)

I just wanted to take time to thank everyone who has been beside me along the way as I pursued this adventure. You know who you are and the role you played, thanks for all your love and support.

I'm going to miss every one, but I know that this is wherer I am supposed to be. So off I go, I can't wait to tell of all my adventures!

Bon voyage!