Monday, December 29, 2008

Family

I just walked up the lonely tiring stairs after watching Jeremy's family leave and I'm amazed at how quickly you can become attached to people. They were seriously a breathe of fresh air. Austin (Jeremy's youngest sibling) was sarcastic and funny which fit in perfectly with me and Danielle, Allison (the middle child and only girl) was hesitant about everything new which completely reminded me of my first days in China. And Jeremy's mom was just Mom. She was so loving and funny, I just soaked up having a mother figure around again. Man, I already miss them and they've literally only been gone for about five minutes!

Some Orphanage Pictures






Christmas/ Orphange

Christmas turned out to be wonderful yet way to short. I had a Christmas party for my sophomores on Christmas Eve which was so fun even though nothing really went right. We played white elephant and one boy brought cigarettes for his gift! Crazy.
We had a big dinner that night for Christmas Eve with some other foreign friends who came in from other places. Jeremy's family flew in that night around 11:30pm and brought a ton of luggage! Most of it was for Jeremy as well as gifts for him and the rest of us! Trying to get a taxi was awful and they were trying to take advantage of us which was upsetting because it was late Christmas Eve night and Jeremy's family was tired and just ready to be done with their traveling!
Christmas morning was wonderful! We all woke up and ate ourselves some wonderful traditional American breakfast foods which of course includes biscuits, eggs, bacon, etc. We all opened gifts which were quite hilarious (please refer to my facebook profile picture!) That night I got to talk to my family and see my parents and Erica's face for the first time in quite a long time! We opened gifts via skype and got to spend some really good time together.
That weekend we went to an orphanage in the Henan Province. There were said to be about eighty kids and about 15 old men that are taken care of there. As we got off the bus at the orphanage some of the children immediately recognized some of our second years that went to their orphanage last year, took their hand, and were attached to them the whole time they were there. We had a party for them with a balloon streamer, a few singing acts, dancing, etc. We made them Christmas cookies and had a few 'give aways' where we gave the children some of the clothes, toys, school supplies, and other things that were brought on the trip. Because of the lack of beds we shared beds with the children there. I shared a bed with a 15 year old girl who knew a little bit of English, at least enough to say 'go to sleep' and 'good morning'. The bed we shared, I'm pretty sure, was smaller than a normal twin bed! I believe that the children aren't really schooled much, and they lack any organized activity. They really loved having people around to pay attention with them and play with them! video

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Lesson




I received a ton of hilarious/ awful Christmas cards from my students. Three were the exact same because there aren't too many choices for Christmas cards and three weren't even Christmas cards! They were random cartoon or love cards.
One of my students that really tries the hardest and is always making a point to come talk to me and be nice to me, gave me the best Christmas present that a Chinese person could have given me. First, he bought me a package of runts. The actual runts don't matter but they don't have those in China, he obviously had to go out of his way to go to an import store, which are really expensive in comparison to normal supermarkets here. The best part was the card he gave me. His card was small and quite cute (no chenglish!) but the most touching things were the words he wrote. "Dear Tara, Firstly, I want to say "Merry Christmas" to you. Secondly, maybe it is the first time that you spend Christmas holiday without your families, especially in China. But we are also your families. Please don't feel alone. At last, I hope you will have a happy and nice time in Wuhan, China. Yours, Will Young" I can't tell you how much that card meant to me. Especially sitting alone Christmas Eve morning.... It reminds me how much our words can affect each other. Tell your family and friends how much they mean to you every chance you get.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The beginning of Christmas



So much to say!

I had a Christmas party this morning for one of my freshman classes and it turned out great. We had hot chocolate, cookies, they all brought some food, and we did a 'white elephant' christmas gift swap. Which was so funny to watch! Some of my freshman call me Stephen and Steve and I know have a clue why. I originally thought that they just couldn't get the last S out when they said my last name, but when I received three cards addressed to Stephen, I realized, NOPE they think that's my name! And I guess that they call me Steve because when I see them on campus, they get nervous talking to me and can't get out my whole last name so they just say Steve!

Went to Metro today (a huge import store about an hours bus ride away) with my Chinese friend Stephanie. She really enjoyed seeing the new food and learning new words. And I think she always likes opportunities to see how and why foreigners are different. She liked seeing what I was buying and why. She kept asking if I was going to get coffee or needed coffee. Even though she knows I don't like coffee! That's what they know of foreigners! She was amazed at the insanely high price of the huge bag of cheese I bought for our Christmas Eve dinner of pizza!! PIZZA!

I took my little kiddos to Daniel's Christmas party so they could see a Christmas party as well as be around older students who are learning English. Daniel's students would talk to them in Chinese and I would run up saying "English! English! Use English!" One of my kiddos Steven is ridiculously intelligent and I'm constantly asking him out of the box questions and quite a bit of the time he understands them. Mary is strong-willed, stubborn, and so much like my sister Erica! The third kiddo is Sue who is three. THREE! She just repeats everything I or Steven says. Her pronunciation is great though!

Making cookies for my party tomorrow!

Last little note: two days ago I was riding the bus listen to 'Sweet Child of Mine' and there was a girl walking exactly to the beat of the song. Might not seem significant but it made my day!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My first Chinese Christmas Gift!


Tonight, I went to tutor my babies. Well, first I went over for dinner and there were 5 adults there and even though 4 of them are pretty stinkin good at English they spoke in Chinese the whole time, which I'm used to sitting there with a smile on my face. I picked up bits and pieces there. I understood when one said "she's good with the chopsticks". I couldn't help but kind of chuckle which gave away that I understood and she got a little embarrassed.
Anyways, tutoring tonight was pretty fun. We read 'Green Eggs and Ham' tonight which they really liked! We reviewed some of the words they didn't know... aka all of the words! Then I read the story while someone translated and then I played them a video of 'Green Eggs and Ham'! I got a new little girl tonight who is three, but who was already quicker than some of my five year olds. So, no big problem there. Her mother also works at my University.
Lastly, the mother whom I've become quite good friends with gave me a Christmas present. She gave me a tang juang. A traditional Chinese jacket (juang) which comes from the Tang dynasty (tang) hints Tang Juang. Anyways, it was hand made by her father and her mother hand made the 'buttons' which are the traditional Chinese fabric clasps. It really is awesome!
One of my girls birthday is on Christmas Eve and the mother was trying to schedule her birthday party around me so I could come and I'm really so busy that I can't go and the little girl has been asking and asking for two weeks if I would come or not. I feel horrible! Maybe I'll cancel some of my plans to go. No decision yet! AH!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The first round of Christmas!



Here is our Christmas Card!! And my favorite picture from the photo shoot.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This weekend!



Saturday we had a Lingerie Shower for Laurie before she heads to the states during the break to get married. We played a bunch of typical wedding shower games and obviously took some amazing random pointless pictures! The best ones are from right after a certain game we played where we asked Drew (her fiancee) a few questions, then asked her and compared their answer to see how well they know each other. If she got the answer wrong, sticker on the face! Also, for being in China. She got some really great and useful pieces of Lingerie. You would only really understand how close this is to a miracle if you lived here. I mean, I can barely buy socks!
Sunday, we met in the morning and then I rushed off to go tutor my babies but today was different. Today was field trip day to KFC! The Wednesday before we learned hamburger, fries, and ice cream. So, we met up and headed to KFC. There are a million stories for this day so settle into your chair.
1. Nine of us fit into a Toyota car. 5 adults and four children (oh, only four of my kids came today) I was sitting up front with two children on my lap. The lack of safety laws in China is quite amazing/amusing/terrifying.
2. The kids were constantly fighting with who gets to sit next to me, who gets to hold my hand, who gets Tara's attention. 3/4ths annoying, 1/4 makes me feel like the cool kid/teacher :)
3. Taught the kids some new words including nuggets, sauce, and delicious.
4. Played teaching games in KFC and was stared at by everybody because "Oh look, a foreigner! And she's teaching Chinese kids English!" Boo...
5. Met a girl who asked to join our little learning/fun hour who turned out to not only be the youngest member of the Hubei Provence synchronized swimming team. But, the Chinese National Champion! Thought that was pretty cool and she asked if she could start coming to all of our lessons to be tutored. She's older than the other kids but also was more mature and eager to learn.
6. Tried some duck neck and forgot to write about trying Pig skin on Wednesday.
7. Back to the little car with 9 people. On the way I'm holding the hands of the two girls and the two boys are in front of us, the mothers are a little behind us far enough that you can't tell we're in the same group. We walk past a security guard/ police officer and I speak a little (A LITTLE!!) Chinese to him and he pretty much pees his pants cause there's this white foreigner, with four Chinese kids, speaking Chinese. I loved the look on his face!
Done.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Tree


My sad little Christmas tree. For some reason they didn't put the base to my tree in the box so it's stuck in a cup of rocks and rice which really isn't working, hints the leaning against the t.v. that hasn't been turned on in months!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Today December 8, 2008

Firstly, Jackie and Tina came over to study. Tina is still teaching me to cook Chinese food, and let me tell you, you better line up to sign up to get the CHANCE to let me cook for you because I am becoming a master Chinese cook!!!

Secondly, I incredibly thank Jason Cooper and Drew Bowen for commenting on my blog! That helps motivate me to keep writing on it. And a thank you to Nicole Calvert who has threatened me in order for me to not stop writing it because she reads it. Thanks guys!

Thirdly, I'm planning Christmas parties for my students. I'm thinking white elephant gift exchange, hot chocolate, and singing Christmas songs. Any other good ideas? Something easy to explain and organize. If you do email me at tys04a@gmail.com. Thanks!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Random Updates

#1. Lost my cell phone :( I'm on the hunt to get it back. Slim Chance!

#2. Went to a wedding between a Chinese woman who speaks no English and an Australian man who speaks no Chinese. Get that.

#3. I felt a little at home in China today. Walking across campus today I ran into a teacher I knew and liked very much and made plans to eat lunch with him and another friend on Thursday. As I say goodbye I run into more friends. I stopped and chatted with them as well. It just felt like I really knew people had Chinese friends here. Lastly, I was walking to pick up a package and in the distance I kept hearing my name being called out. After looking around for a while there were 4 students (not mine, friends of a friend of mine) on the fifth floor of Building #1 yelling 'HI TARA' and waving frantically. It made me feel so wonderful!!!

#4. Bought a Christmas tree and put it up with some lights and red garland. The Christmas presents from my church back home is under the tree! Thank you for all the wonderful gifts!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving, etc.

Thanksgiving!!

My first big holiday in China has now been written in the history books. And I think it was quite a success. The actual day of Thanksgiving didn't consist of anything too special besides a big lunch with the five foreigners that I basically live with. We did have some amazing pies though, thanks to Laurie. But, Saturday we had a large foreigner get together for a big Thanksgiving feast that many people from out of town came to. And as you all know, it's really nice and refreshing to be around new faces and personalities. I met a lot of new people and made some new friends and connections. But, most importantly... I ate some pumpkin pie! It definitely isn't Thanksgiving until the pumpkin pie has past through my lips! Secondly, I had mac-n-cheese!!

I tutored my five year old kiddos today and it went well. They learned a new color, letter, and some more household items. We played red light green light which they learned last time and the new game for today was duck duck goose! It was funny teaching them the different animals before we played because a duck and goose have little differences in the eyes of a five year old. Especially one who probably hasn't seen either animal. New update, went from 11 five year olds to 4, now back up to 8... killing me...

p.s. if you actually read my blog can you leave a comment or email me something about it. I feel slightly awkward putting some of my life out there on the internet and if it's not doing it's purpose to keep people updated... I may throw it out the way-side. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Winter

11:09 pm November 26

Walking down from Jeremy's apartment back to my own, this amazing smell wafted into my nostrils. Winter. It officially smells like winter.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Thing I Ate Today

All in one day I have eaten:
1. Sheep liver
2. Sheep intestine
3. Sheep heart/ arteries
4. A FISH EYE!
You say... what! A fish eye? Yes, I picked the eye ball out of a fishes head and placed it in my mouth!! YEAH!

Also, something worth noting is that I walked about two feet behind a man peeing on a building and I didn't think it was weird and I really think twice about it. Done.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Amazing Happening Of The Day

Got a text message at 9 p.m. from a male student that reads:
"Air is to man as fish is to water as you is to me."

I love China!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Update of Randomness

1. Our women's retreat ending up going very well! It was a very relaxed yet very productive weekend. I got to know some of the Wuchong girls so much better, including getting to share a bed with Katera! We really don't get to hang out with those girls enough. It was also a blessing to have an older perspective there with Rosie! We need some more wisdom in our program, all of us are in our twenties!!

2. I allowed my freshman classes (60 boys: 4 girls) to write down questions pertaining to either me personally or to American culture given that they've never seen/talked to a foreigner before. And this would give them the opportunity to not be as shy. I got some really hilarious questions like A. DO you think you are pretty? B. What is your phone number and C. Can American girls love Chinese boys? My answers were as followed... A. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I think I'm good looking and then sometimes I look in the mirror and ( I proceeded to make a face like I was throwing up) they thought this was hilarious. B. I wrote my number on the board so all of them could have it and then set some rules. Do not call too early, do not call too late, and nobody can ask me out on a date! C. I told them about my friend who is dating/ pretty much engaged to a Chinese Man. They were so excited that American girls could be interested in Chinese boys!

3. My Chinese language lessons are going well. I have learned how to shop pretty much, buy food, learned the vegetables names as well as meat names. I can buy train/ bus tickets, I can ask what time it is, tell people where I'm from and that I'm an English teacher. And some other small conversation phrases. I've also learned pinyin which is pretty much the equivalent of our alphabet.

4. I am starting a new tutoring job tonight which is an hour and a half of eight 5 year olds!! I'm really excited/ really terrified! Can you imagine handling eight 5 year olds in your native language much less with kids who can't even understand you?!?! So, please be praying for me that I don't go insane!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Friday!

My Friday has consisted of two things of significance.

First, if you have been reading my blog you know about the import store called theatre most common stated in my blogs due to the Dr. Pepper that they sell. But, they sell all imported materials and foods which basically makes it wonderful. WELL, in our new big supermarket, maybe a fifteen minute walk from our apartments, they opened a theatre which I visited today!! Not only do they have Dr. Pepper but A&W Rootbeer... AND A&W Cream Soda!! This store is so crazy with it's cheeses, pickles, kitchen appliances, familiar soaps, pizzas, hamburger helper for Pete's sake. I don't know Pete but he would love this place!!

Second, today was day one of our Wuhan/ surrounding cities Ladies Retreat which started off with some fellowship, singing, Chinese meal, and watching 'The Ultimate Gift'. It was really uplifting to get to sing, we don't really do that often at our school and you never realize how precious things are until they're gone! This whole weekend is filled with wonderful lady activities. It's been held in my apartment, so lets pray for clean ladies to keep a clean apartment :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Omar and Paanch



I have these two friends back in Abilene, Omar and Paanch (Omar I put your name first this time!) who are usually on skype and I probably get to talk to them as much as I talk to my family. Anyways, after talking to them today for about thirty minutes I realized that they always always make my day so much better! So, I just wanted to say that I love you guys!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rachel and Beijing!





"He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man" Mao Zedong

Well, if any of you have ever questioned my manhood, there is now no question to it. I'm a true man!! Or... whatever.

This past Thursday night Daniel and I caught a sleeper train to Beijing to meet up with the most wonderful Rachel Baker!! We got in Friday morning around seven and headed to our hidden hostel. Our hostel was impossible to find being in this tiny back alley (hutong) that was being constructed on and was all sorts of torn up!! Friday we found our hostel, got to see Rachel(!!!!), and headed off to explore the crazy world of Beijing. We were walking distance to Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden Palace. First, we went through the forbidden palace with the huge painting of Mao on the outside. Next we went through Jingshan Park which is just a small park, but it sits on a high hill that over looks both the city of Beijing and the entire Forbidden Palace. It has such a beautiful view! After this we went walking through a random neighborhood to find our way back to Tia'nanmen square. On the way we had our first meal altogether which consisted of Eggplant cooked with tomatoes, Fish flavored pork & veggies, and some not so good steamed dumplings. We also walked into this tiny shop ran by a woman for Tibet! I bought some presents that were made from yak bones. We finally found our way through the neighborhood back to Tian'anmen square where we just walked around for a bit and pretty much took hundreds of pictures of random Chinese people asking for us to take pictures with them, probably so they could tell their friends back home that they saw foreigners! Walking to and from these places we passed by the National Grand Theatre which is one of the coolest buildings in Beijing. Look it up! Lastly, on Friday we went to an Acrobatics show where these inhumanly flexible/ crazy daredevil Chinese people were flipping and climbing all over each other. It was so amazing!! I have tons of pictures and videos!

Saturday, we woke up crazy early and headed out with a group to the Great Wall! Rachel, Daniel, and I were the only ones out of the group to opt out of the cable cars to take you up to the top of the Great Wall meaning we climbed up forty straight minutes of stairs. FORTY MINUTES!! But, it was well worth it once we reached the top! We walked for about an hour and a half up and down our section of the Great Wall and it was so beautiful! It was really hard for me to grasp that I was standing on the Great Wall! It didn't feel real until now writing about it! We took a million pictures/ videos up on the wall! After our incredibly hard walk down the stairs we were swamped by Chinese people trying to sell their trinkets and souvenirs. Which is usually quite annoying but we turned it into quite a fun time! These two older gentleman had their booths set up next to each other and Rachel wanted a set of nice chopsticks and I had the two of them going back and forth trying to sell them to us, we were working the masters! They know a few English phrases to catch your attention but when you start bargaining with them they write the price down on a piece of paper (since they use the same numbers) and foreigners do the same and it goes back and forth. When this old man starting writing his price down on the paper after I had used some Chinese on him, I got this horrible look on my face and told him "I know, I know" in Chinese making him think he insulted me by not using Chinese! They always go a lot further down on their prices when you speak Chinese rather than using English!! (If Rachel reads this she'll maybe roll her eyes since we found something she bought for 60 yuan there somewhere else for 15!!! I can't believe they originally wanted 180 yuan for it!) After we left, we headed back to the hostel, got some needed info from the internet, and took some much needed naps! Later that night we met up and went out to eat at Outback Steakhouse! I order the Alice Springs Chicken which was a piece of chicken breast covered in mushrooms, bacon, and cheese with some honey mustard. It was the most delicious flavorful thing that has passed between my lips in months! Completely not meaning to be dramatic I would close my eyes and just absorb the taste! It was amazing! They also served a small warm loaf of wheat bread. SO GOOD! Amazing Rachel picked up the bill which was crazy because western food is quite expensive in China! Pretty much all the faces there were white faces. Speaking of, I now understand why the Chinese stare at me so much because after living here for only around ten weeks, I was overwhelmed by all the foreigners in Beijing! I was constantly pointing them out!! "Wow, look at those foreigners!!" and simply saying "FOREIGNERS!" That's so sad! After Outback we walked around the walking street (a street for shopping, no cars are allowed, it's usually really nice expensive stuff) we found a bookstore that was completely foreign books! I bought a book for myself! I'm really excited to read it! Walking back to our hostel we stopped, sat near, and just looked at the National Grand Theater because it's quite a spectacular view at night with it's random light lite up on it. It looks like the stars in heaven, stars that we rarely get to see here.

Sunday morning we got up and went to a meeting they hold in a restaurant. Everything was pretty much in Chinese so it was a little difficult to stay awake given the full weekend we had and I had nothing to concentrate on! Afterwards we ate lunch with them and had some amazing conversations with one of the couples that are living in Beijing, they had some really inspiring and encouraging things to say! I also got to meet Jane, a friend of a friend whom I had just been told about a few days beforehand! After our meeting Rachel, Daniel, me, and a new Chinese friend, Zhou all went to the Olympic park to see the sights and take some pictures and then we all went to the heavenly temple which was such a great sight to see!!! We hustled back to our hostel had a few minutes to sit and chat, we ate some dinner there, then Daniel and I grabbed our bags and left to catch our 9 o'clock train that night!! We made it back into Wuhan at 7 in the morning and both had 10 o'clock classes to teach!

Great things that happened that I forgot to write about!
1. The three of us hung out in this young man's tea shop looking around, smelling teas, tasting teas, shopping, and just trying to have some conversation with him. With his small English vocabulary and my small Chinese vocabulary we managed to have a decent strand of conversation! I would use as much Chinese as I could inserting an English word or two and definitely using body language and he would understand and do the same back! I knew where he was from, that tea isn't grown close to Beijing but only back closer to his home, he told me about his father, I bought some tea, I learned that they own two tea shops and he runs that one, I told him what we were doing there. It was encouraging to use my small amount of Chinese!

2. My English is degrading quickly. I like to blame it on me being tired all weekend but Rachel kept getting a kick out of my horrible horrible broken English! I kept using wrong words, wrong tenses, etc! Quite embarrassing!

3. The night we just stopped, sat, and stared at the starry-heaven building, it was quite cold, and after sitting for maybe thirty minutes we stood up and had a hard time walking with numb booties!

4. Having Rachel in China and getting to see her and hang out with her was amazing! It helped to relieve my wanting to see my family!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Halloween!





Last week we threw a huge Halloween party/ Haunted House for a large number of our students and friends. Halloween is not celebrated here so it was really culturally interesting to watch the Chinese people experience Halloween, especially the Haunted House. This Haunted House probably would have made Americans laugh but these Chinese students were terrified to go in! It was amazing! We had some really great costumes show up!!

I also had three small parties at my apartment with my sophomores who didn't get to go to the large Halloween party because they attended last year. So, I decorated my place all the way, had the lights completely out (including all my windows blocked out with black cardboard) and I lit the room with only a few tea lights. It was so cool looking! My sophomores played a few Halloween games and then told/ acted out the scary stories that they wrote. I have no words to express the plays that came out of those scary stories!!

I'm headed to Beijing in about an hour and a half!! So, watch for the update about Beijing!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Update!

It's been a while since I've updated my blog, so here are a few of the newer things going on!

1. I went to Yichang this weekend which is about a 4-5 hour bus ride away, depends on which bus you pay for, the express or normal bus. Jeremy, Danielle, Dennis, and I headed out Friday about noon. Before we got on the bus we got some lunch at McDonalds, yup.. McDonalds. I had never had a big mac before China! Anyways, we got into Yichang about 5:30 and we were met by Amy and Brad, both teaches who have been in China for three years. After introductions we headed to Pizza Hut. I know right now your thinking... 'You're in China, Tara. McDonald's and Pizza Hut?' WELL! There's always a McDonalds by the train and bus stations and we were in a hurry!! Second, Pizza Hut over here is super fancy! It's on par with or above an Olive Garden in the states. People seriously go there to get engaged. Not kidding! So, after eating we headed to Amy and Brad's apartments and just hung out which is pretty much what we did all weekend! Saturday we went and had authentic Indian food which I had never eaten before! Brad and Amy's campus has an attached Medical school which houses a large Indian population so they have an Indian Cafeteria! And to make things even better English is India's national language so the people there could talk to us! Nice! We headed back to their apartments and just hung out played games like family feud, cranium, we watched Hocus Pocus, and got crazy Chinese massages. I would try to explain them to you, but in eight months just remind me and I'll show you :) Sunday morning we had our usual get-together but it was completely multi-cultural! Chinese, Jamaican, Indian, and American! The four of us packed up and headed home.... Sadly. We headed to the bus station grabbed a ticket back to HanKou and headed home!

Random happenings between now and the last blog:
1. I saw a Chinese man with a full mustache and a goatee!! They can't really grow facial hair here so this is quite a find!
2. I counted the flights of stairs that I climbed today and I'm pretty sure it was 39. But, I left my bowl and cup in Jeremy's apartment so if I decide to go back up and get them, I'll make it to 41. I think I'll stick to 39 :)
3. Danielle has a rat (genius rat) in her apartment. He's been there for about a week and a half, she can't get him to leave!
4. HALLOWEEN!

We're having a HUGE halloween party for about 350 people coming up this Friday and I will have three small parties for my Sophomore International students here in my apartment Thursday & Friday morning. Look back here soon for pictures!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fav English Songs & Lunch

My sophomores have had a really busy schedule lately and have been bogged down with extra studies and activities so I wanted to have a fun lesson for class this week. SO! This week we went over music genres and listened to examples of each. Their musical tastes are so much more broad than in the United States, I feel as if young people today only listen to the 'popular' stuff on the 'coolest' radio station but my Chinese students really had quite a broad range! Anyways, I'm going to share with you the songs that caught me most by surprise!!

-Backstreet Boys; Just want you to know'
-Michael Jackson; Heal the World
-Celine Dion; The power of love
-Green Day; Boulevard of broken dreams
-Boney M; Rivers of Babylon (look this one up)
-I had 3 Linkin Park's in a row!!!
-Il Divo & Toni Braxton; The time of our lives
-The Carpenters; Yesterday no more
-Mariah Carey;
-High School Musical!!- When there was me and you

That only two of the three sophomore classes that I have, and all my students didn't make it through today, so hopefully I will have some good ones to come! After my classes Daniel and I went to lunch with two Chinese German teachers and an English reading teacher. The reading teacher is a brother and was eager to talk to me about sharing certain inspirational books. He learned that I had an English copy of a book he had wanted to read (he had a translated copy in Chinese but didn't want to read it and lose any of the meaning and value) so he was really excited to learn that I had it and was completely willing to share! That's really exciting for me!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

PACKAGE DAY!!


On this 14th day of October, I have been blessed with two amazing packages! TWO!

Today I heard a rumor that I had received a package, so I made the trip to the campus post office where I had TWO packages waiting on me! One was from Nicole Calvert! In it she sent not only homemade chocolate chip cookies but also homemade snicker-doodles! They were 11 days old but still tasted like she used heaven as an ingredient! She sent me ziploc bags (can't get 'em!), candles (expensive and awful here), hot tamales, yogurt covered pretzels, a DUKE SHIRT!, chapstick (also can't get here!), Halloween candy, a birthday card which was also filled with videos of herself!

My next package was from Michael and Felicia! It had my Halloween costume in it! Well my Halloween costume for one of the two Halloween parties been thrown! I can't tell you what the costume is yet, but you can see the pictures later. Some of you will laugh and recognize it!! She also sent Oil of Olay face and body wipes which is pertinent for traveling, small bottles and a large bottle of hand sanitizer (China is so dirty you have to make sure your hands are clean!), she sent books! You never realize how priceless books are because they are so easily accessible in the states! All three books are by C.S. Lewis, so I'm really excited to finish the book I'm borrowing so I can begin these! She also sent eye liner! So small but so exciting!

It's amazing what receiving a package can do for your spirits. It reminds me that people are thinking about me, love me, and care about me enough to take the time to send me one. And it makes me feel a little closer to home, closer to my friends, and to my family. Thank you.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

MY BIRTHDAY!!!

October 11, 2008 WUHAN, CHINA

7am - Wake up!
7:30 - talk to Ross/ Laura Bean for a few moments on Skype
7:35 - PARTY (round 1) my parents threw a party for me and I attended via skype! My whole church family was there! But, they left to eat...
7:45 - talked my Felicia and Michael on Skype! Also, painted my fingernails for the first time in forever!
8:30 - 10:20 - Back to the party with my family/church family. I opened my package from my family and received some amazing American food/ some clothes I needed/ candles/ birthday cards!! Got to talk to some people that I missed!
10:40- Supermarket run! We went to a new huge clean supermarket! They have a 'Theater' in it, which is an import store with a ton of American food in it!
1:00 - back on campus, made chicken noodle soup!
2:00 - ate great tasting homemade chicken noodle soup! Hung out with some of the coolest people in China!!
4:00 - watch an episode of "The Office" while Jeremy and Carole make cinnamon rolls for breakfast the next day!
5:00 - I shower and get ready to go out! Danny (my boss-ish) also came over and brought me a Chinese cake... they're very beautiful!
6:20ish - headed out to a sushi place for dinner with the whole gang! I ate tuna sushi, sesame seed roll, and chow fan with eel (fried rice with eel) and a 7-up!
7:40 ish - back to school, fun-fetti cake, fun-fetti icing, and candles that my family sent me in the mail!
8:30 - headed out to the traditional Chinese dancing place (an old abandoned warehouse!) My new Chinese friend Stephanie came along!
10:20 ish - back to our apts!

I got more gifts for this birthday than I have for any other birthday, well that I remember! I received gift box with a Chinese saying written out on parchment, a whole gift bag of different notebooks which are very unique and great gifts, as well as a wonderful card! I received American food/goodies/candles/clothes from my parents, a money purse/ chapstick, lotions, fingernail polish, drinks, dr. pepper. a penguin on a stick that is for massaging backs. It was a great birthday!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Urumqi!


My first traveling in China!!

A large group of friends and I traveled 39 hours by train to Urumqi in the Northwest part of China and it was so different than the China that I have come to know! We left by train on a Friday night and didn't get off until Sunday morning. It was so crazy to be on a train for that long! We made two little friends both were little girls around four years old. One was incredibly cute and talked to Jeremy and Laurie for quite a bit and the other girl was quite the little devil and bit Laurie hard enough to leave marks!! Crazy!

We arrived in Urumqi Sunday morning and headed straight to our hostel (my first time in a hostel) which was quite nice! A lot nicer than I had in mind! There we regrouped, showered ( I hadn't showered since Thursday morning!), went to buy some needed items at the store, etc. That night we went and ate a restaurant very close by that was owned by Muslims. So, even the little Chinese that our group could speak didn't really help much. Most of the area that we visited was predominately middle eastern Muslims than Chinese! The language that they spoke was completely different and they used the Aramaic alphabet! I thought that was pretty neat! That day we also went to the street market/ bizarre, there were barely any Chinese people around! All the Weiger people. I bought quite a bit of my Christmas presents there (some I couldnt get on the plane to bring back, but that's another story for later).

Tuesday morning we woke up early and caught a two hour bus south to a city called Turpan. Here in Turpan, there were almost NO Chinese people. I loved it! Everyone spoke very basic simple Chinese. Just like me :) The group broke up and some of us rented bicycles and biked our way out 8 km to an ancient ruins called the Jiahoe Ruins (http://www.chinahighlights.com/xinjiang/turpan/attraction/jiaohe-ruins.htm). It was an amazing abandoned ruins with houses made of stone and mud. There was also a giant buddhist temple there still in quite good shape. On the way biking there we saw donkey carts, little kids playing with random things, grape orchards, huts where people lived, I wish I could remember all the amazing cultural things that we saw! After biking back we caroused the little bazaar that they had there, just looking around. Went back to our hotel (awful hotel) to stay the night. The showers in this hotel were so awful! The showers consisted of these stalls that covered the tiny Asian probably but went from about my knees to the middle part of my chest. These stalls were horribly positioned right in front of a window and when someone opened the door to enter, anyone in the hall would have the opportunity to see you if they just glanced in! It was so awful... oh yes. No hot water.

Wednesday morning we woke up, headed back onto another two hour bus, well they both actually took like three hours. Within the three hour ride we went through mountains with snow covered tops, deserts that stretched forever, and even went to through a large section of wind mills (like the ones in Abilene but not even close to the same size!). We got back to Urumqi and headed from the bus station to eat at a cafe called 'Texas Cafe'. THATS RIGHT! The entire place is decked out with Texas pamphlets, license plates, t-shirts, flags, portraits of the band at UT, they have a ton of English books! You walk in and you feel as if your walking into a cafe back home. It was so comforting! AND they had a western toilet!! (toilets here are like glorified holes in the ground made out of ceramic. you have to squat to do your business!) I order a spinach salad and some waffle fries! It was SOO good. BUT, there was no dr. pepper. Strike one! haha. The owner is a guy from Austin, who sadly flew back home for a vacation and but the manager was there who is a late-twenties guy from Plano! It was just crazy to be all the way across the world and to meet someone from Plano! In a guy's restaurant who's from Austin. After eating we went to a different bus station (the long travel station) on the north side of town, completely middle eastern people, crazy! We got on a sleeper bus at 8pm to head towards Buerjin.

Well, on the way to Beurjin, late Tuesday night early Wednesday morning it's really dark outside our bus stops in the middle of nowhere and we just sit on the road for about twenty minutes. So, Danielle and I both have to use the restroom really bad but there is no where to go!! There was this young Chinese lady looking around for the same reason as us, still nothing to be found. We three pair up to climb over a guard rail, down a concrete embankment, and then down another dusty slippery slope to use the restroom. We three just 'pop-a-squat' right there next to each other and do our business!!! Danielle and I are true Chinese people! About the time we climbed back up the bus was firing up because the traffic jam was letting up. It turns out that there had been a terrible car accident which was blocking the road. A motorized cart was crossing the highway and an SUV hit it. It was a really bad scene. It was hard getting back to sleep for quite a while, my mind kept working over and over about different things. Finally I got back to sleep and woke up in Beurgin which is a really tiny Chinese town that is completely different than any other Chinese city!! It was completely clean! They had bright colored buildings! The light posts had windmills on them so they ran off of the power that they made themselves! They had trashcans IN the sidewalks! You could walk up to the trashcan step on a lever and the lid would pop open and you would drop your trash in. It was raised only about two inches off the ground! It had a little Russian influence! It looked like a really cute, clean, northern American city! Anyways, after getting there we had to get a taxi to take us three hours into the mountains to get to our destination of KANAS LAKE! Kanas Lake is easily the most beautiful place that I have ever been.

Kanas Lake is a turquoise/blue lake tucked away in these snow topped mountains with trees turning yellow and orange from fall! The air was crisp and clean which is almost like air from heaven when your used to dirty Wuhan air! The road to get there was very... OH, I forgot. During the taxi ride up there was fog like I've never seen for before! You couldnt see two feet in front of the car and the road we were on had incredibly sharp turns with mountains on one side and a drop off on the other. It was terrifying at some points in time! Second, the taxi driver was trying to learn some English off of us so he could try to get more English speakers to take his taxi! He knew "hello/good bye/i love you" and the way he said it was priceless! He learned "you take my taxi please", "one person - 50 yuan", and quite a few other things. He was hitting on Laurie the whole trip up there it was quite hilarious.. OH he told her IN ENGLISH, "I'm a bad boy" HAHAHA! Okay... back to Kanas Lake. It's this National Park that is gorgeous and inside of it are these villages of people who now pretty much just work the tourists. The main village is in this awkward stage of still having the old village look with the log cabins, animals in the yard, etc but now they're trying to make it touristy and they are putting up these fancy buildings everywhere and they have buses that run all during the day into the night time. It's really sad to see this absolutely amazing breath-taking place being turned into a tourist-trap. We probably got to go while it was still beautiful and untouched! We spent the night in this random woman's yurt which is like a large tepee! You officially can't stay in them, but Danielle, Jeremy, Laurie and I ran across one while walking through the forest and Laurie walked up to the house next to it and knocked on every door until someone answered and she just asked if we could stay there! And we did! We had a wood-burning stove (made more for cooking than staying warm) but it went out before midnight leaving us in freezing weather with just barely enough covers to cover our bodies!! We watched the sunset over the mountains and the stars were absolutely beautiful!! The stars stretched from one set of mountains on one side all the way to the other side, no clouds! There looked like there were a billion stars! It was gorgeous!

Thursday morning we packed up our stuff, walked along the lake and rivers once more, ate some lunch in a near by log cabin, and headed out to catch a taxi back to the nearest town three hours away. Instead of a taxi, we got on a mini-bus with all people from Taiwan whose English was wonderful! After we got back to Buerjin, we had some dumplings at a tiny hole-in-the-wall place. They were pretty good but we failed to notice til the end that they had an inspection notice on the wall stating they failed their last inspection and there was a huge sad face on it! It funny! We left and headed to the bus station (right across the street) and got on our sleeper bus back to Urumqi!

15 hours later Friday morning we find ourselves back in Urumqi and we headed straight for the airport to catch our flight back home to Wuhan! We get through the first line to get our tickets, our bags get checked.. PROBLEM #1. Danielle and I weren't allowed to take the decorative/ traditional chinese knives that we bought onto the plane, even in our checked baggage! I bought three for Nathan, my brother-in-law, and father. They were worth quite a bit and I just had to get rid of them.... boo. So, we get over it and get in line to go through security... PROBLEM #2. Daniel and I left our passports with our boss so he could get our residents permits. He told us we would be fine with a copy of our passport and some other paperwork we had, which you had to have a passport to get. (He also didn't know we would be flying back) SOOO we try to go through security and NO! They won't let us through!! We ended up having to pull our luggage off the plane right before it takes off, and stay in Urumqi for TWO MORE DAYS! So, to treat ourselves, we went back to the Texas Cafe where I had a hamburger (didn't taste anything like I would have wanted it to.. boo) Back to the first hostel, back to the bazaar to replace the Christmas presents that I had to throw away! Our boss over-nighted our passports to our hostel, which we were really unsure would get to us through Chinese mail! Blah, Blah, Blah after paying 74.3% of my salary for the month, I finally got a plane ride home! Sunday night.... HOME IN WUHAN!!

I left so much out... I will post the stories that I remember randomly when I remember :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

My first official sickness!

After an entire weekend of American food when your stomach is on a Chinese diet, you gain a stronger relationship with your toilet. Monday morning around 5:45 I woke up and became best friends with Tootles (that's my toilets new name). After around an 1 1/2 to 2 hour chit-chat with tootles I was ready to begin my day...

I was a little afraid to eat Monday because I figured tootles was a little tired of me so around 9 I had a tiny granola bar, not really much. Around two o'clock I had to take a 45 minute bus ride to the police station to get my residence permit. It was me, Daniel, Danny (my waibon), Paul & Janina (the German foreigner teachers). The whole time I was at the police station I had a headache, my stomach hurt, and I just felt awful. Around 4 we left back out into the raging heat of Wuhan! When we made it to the bus stop, my head got cloudy, I couldn't hear anything, I wanted to throw up, and Paul said I looked pale. I knew I was about to pass out and I've never felt that way in my entire life! Danny, Daniel, and I took a cab back to school. When we got back around 5 I went straight to bed and woke up around 8.

So, there is my first bout of sickness in China. One down, I'm sure quite a few to go!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Water + Popcorn Chicken

No water from 9pm Sunday to 9pm Monday.... Jeremy says this is a regular happening so Daniel and I went out and bought pink buckets to put next to our toilets so we can use them tomorrow.

I learned how to say popcorn chicken which is at one of our favorite tiny restuarants where the owner speaks English but his wife and the two girls that work there do not. I really want to be able to order and talk to them in Chinese so we're working on learning their menu... Popcorn chicken sounds like "johnny whua" so in case you're in a foreign country that speaks Chinese and you have to order popcorn chicken, you can thank me :)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mary Poppins

Today I felt like Mary Poppins...

We're having our monthly get together at Carole's apartment today and we're having chicken tacos. So, this morning we got up and needed to go to the supermarket. Well, Carole and I took bikes to the supermarket!! I felt like Mary Poppins when she's riding on her bike! It was about a 10 minute bike ride and you have to cross some streets, go through this tree covered bike lane that has three large giraffees hidden in them. There is a mini effiel tower, because she lives close to the French district here in Wuhan. It was such a fun bike ride! I haven't ridden a bike since middle school. It reminded me of my friend, Katie Graves, we used to go on the longest bike rides around the country by my house!

P.S. Carole's supermarket has one of my new favorite stores in it. It's called a theater, it's a store that purely stocks imported food. I got some cheese for the chicken tacos and two DR. PEPPERS!!!! Yeah... that's right!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chenglish

Chenglish....

So, the Chinese try to use English as much as possible in daily talking, advertisements, clothing, any product that they want to sell because English is cool. There are so many horrible English translations that it tickles me constantly.

1. I bought some cotton balls to use toner on my face. The cotton balls were called tampons! The toner says "instantly vivifies for a supple skin" What in the world is vivifies?

2. There is an office building on the Navy School and it said something something Soffice. SOFFICE!

3. There is a museum on our usual route on the bus called the sexology museum. We have no clue what kind of museum is but it's the sexology museum!!!

4. They use phrases like "happy everyday!"

I will have phrase updates! Keep looking!!!

The Random Things Going on in China

SO!

Tonight one of the old teachers friends, Sunny Lou, took us to the University for the Navy here so we could go swimming in their pool. You have to pay to use this pool but anybody can swim in it. Wait, let me rephrase, any CHINESE person can swim in it. We as foreigners were denied entrance to the pool. We could do anything else we wanted including badminton, table tennis, karate, and so on. But, for some unknown reason because of military security we could not go into the pool. We try to rent rackets for badminton and all of the sudden they are out. We move on to table tennis where for once we were not denied, yet when we started playing we were told to quiet down! We still made it a blast!!!

After getting gross and sweaty from table tennis we started to leave and passed by this training room for very young kids to learn table tennis and they were RIDICULOUSLY good. These five year olds were schooling their instructor. It was crazy and they absolutely loved staring at the foreigners, one little boy came up to us and held a very basic but good conversation with us.
He said, hello.. how are you... I'm good.. What is your name. His english name was Jack. He was SO cute!!

Last night, I had one of my classes over to my apartment to watch Kung Fu Panda and just to visit. They actually had already seen the movie which made it not as fun because they didn't laugh as much. I asked them afterwards what their favorite movies were, and I got answers such as High School Musical and Titanic. It was great. They liked Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. I love these students!!

I have so much to say and not enough time!!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Massage & Facial

I need to get on here everyday because so much has happened!!

Today Danielle, Carole, and I went out to get a facial done. Because we're foreigners we're either taken advantage of or given extra perks in any given situation, and in our facials we were totally given some perks! Our facials took about forty-five minutes including our shoulders being massaged our arms and hands. But, that's not all that the Chinese people massage. They massaged our chest and by chest... I mean chest!! I would have been super uncomfortable had it not felt sooo good. Who would have known how much stress you carry in that area!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Military Training

When learning my schedule to teach I noticed that my freshman class would be starting three weeks after all of my other classes and when I asked why I was told that every freshman is required by China to go through military training prior to starting classes. I heard it and thought it was weird, but as of last night when they started now I'm just straight up intimidated and scared!! Okay, maybe not scared but it is quite insane. I was walking across campus at night, actually for the first time by myself, and I hear random large groups singing at the same time when I pass by the soccer field I see hundreds of students sitting learning to sing what I assume to be some national military song but it was very awe inspiring to see hundreds of Chinese teenagers in camo sitting staring and mocking a military commander. As I passed by I saw another group of boys learning to sharply turn on command, I kept seeing some trying to sneak a peek at the foreigner passing by (most freshman have never seen a foreigner).... Since 8 this morning until now which is 5:33 these freshman have been training on how to march, turn, chant, etc. It's crazy to see.

Dancing!

First, I'm determined to keep up with this even though I have only posted once. I will continue to blog!!

My favorite part of being in China as a foreigner thus far has definitely had to be dancing on the street with old men!! A few days ago, Danielle, Daniel (We're now calling Whitt), William (a teacher from another city in China who came to visit), and myself were walking back to Danielle's apartment and we passed by this street corner where every week night about 100 older Chinese individuals come to dance to traditional Chinese music that is blaring. As we were walking by, Danielle and I paused because we wanted to dance but how do you involve yourself on a dance you don't know, with people you don't know, in a culture that you aren't familiar with, and when you don't even know how to communicate with them!?! Body language! An older gentleman (70s) came up and asked me to dance by extending his hands, we danced for about five minutes and he was great at leading me and directing me where to go, I was quite nervous because by that time everybody realized 'Hey... there are foreigners who look like idiots trying to dance!!' and we were being stared at by just about everybody. I got nervous and stopped dancing but another man (50s) came up and insisted I dance with him. I ended up dancing with him for about twenty minutes. There were many steps, many complicated twists and turns but he was great at nonverbally teaching me! I had so much and everybody expressed that we should come back whenever we could. I definitely plan to!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

ALRIGHT!

Alright!!

I've gotten on here about eight times starting to write a post and I get overwhelmed with saying something witty and interesting and I give up before I even start. I have seen too many amazing/fascinating/mind-blowing things while I've been here in China and I have to share them with my friends back home.

We'll start with today. First and foremost, I bought Dr. Pepper today!! Seriously, there is one store that returning teachers said you can find it in every once in a while, we stopped by, it was there, and I bought some!!! It was over 40 yuan which is quite pricey but actually turns out to only be about three-four dollars in American money. Today we had our first get-together with all of the American teachers where in Wuhan. It was really uplifting to meet everyone and make new friends with the same interests and goals.

I'm all set up in my new apartment, which is wonderful! I have a big living room, a bedroom with a queen size bed which is quite overwhelming since I've only ever had a twin! I also have an office!! This is the biggest space I've ever had, much less on my own. I live right across the 'hall' from Daniel, my oldest friend here in China, which actually only comes out to a week! Daniel is from Florence, Alabama.

There are so many crazy things like split pants on baby, which is just like it sounds pants that split right at the bottom in order for babies to use their business wherever they need to while in public. You'll be walking down the street seeing all these baby butts hanging out. Next crazy thing is people stare ridiculously!! It's like your walking down the street with a sign that says "HEY I'M DIFFERENT AND CRAZY... LOOK AT ME". The older folks stare like were going to disappear and they need to take in as much as they can before it happens. Speaking of old people, walking back to Danielle's (a second year teacher who lives about thirty minutes away) apt we walked past dozens of old couples dancing on a street corner to a band. It was so cute, Danielle says they are there nightly. We've decided to pair up and all head down to that corner to dance with them.

It's almost one in the morning so I'm out... I'll try to do better with keeping up on here.