Tuesday, February 24, 2009

And life continues....

This week thus far:

1. Nothing crazy fun on Monday but I did catch up with some friends, no classes, went to stationary street with Jeremy to get some supplies for his Kindergarten job.

2. Tuesday, The HanKou Ren met for dinner with Ed at the Farkle. He came to China to bring a new batch of teachers about two weeks ago and he saved the best for last because he flew out today and we're closest bunch to the airport. Dinner was good. I drank a coke which kept me up later than normal. It's amazing the affects coke will have on you after you stop drinking it.

3. Today, I saw a guy wearing wranglers!! Not the country tight wranglers, but a pair of normal fitting jeans but they were wranglers... IN CHINA! I was amazed! I've been catching up on grades today. Yes, I'm a week and a half into classes this term and I'm a little behind on grading! I have babysitting... opps... I meant tutoring tonight at seven. I'm teaching the parts of the face. We'll see how that goes.

4. My Thursday 8am that I 'moved' and I was so excited about! Nope.. didn't work out. I have to be in class at 8... boo. I don't ever want a real 8-5 where you have to get up early everyday.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thermal Theory Thursday

8 am - Class.. I hate 8am's, My class and I agreed that 8am was too early and we changed our class time to Thursday at 2pm. Exciting!

10 am- Class... Again, my students weren't scheduled to have me but after learning I was their teacher were extremely excited. One of my favorite boys tried to have a conversation with me before class and his oral English really isn't good at all but he tries so hard that I adore him! Also before class one of my students, Vicki, shared the exciting news that she passed the IELTS exam which the foreign language test that one must pass before being allowed to study abroad in an English speaking country. (it's very difficult to pass) so next December she will go to England! After class my student, Edgar, came up to me and was obviously quite nervous. He told me that he will take the same test in April. While visibly being very nervous he asked if I could give him any suggestions to make his spoken English better, because he "is a shy boy". He said that he knows his spoken English isn't very good and that he gets nervous when he "opens his mouth". He was so precious!! So, we devised some situations for us to work on his spoken and listening skills and because China is a country that if someone does a favor for you, you MUST return a favor. So, he said he will make me a dish that he learned to cook over Spring Festival (the long break we just had)

12 - 6 lesson planned for a long time!! Watched High School Musical 3. Wrote in my Journal. Cleaned my apartment. Read out of the Old Testament (I want to finish the Old Testament before I come back to the States, so hold me accountable!!)

6:00pm - dinner

6:30 pm - group

10 pm - Chinese movie with the gang....

Well, that was my day. I had a lot more free time this after than I'm used to. But, that will change having changed my 8am class to 2pm. DONE!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Back to Classes: Day Three

Wednesday: Day Three of Classes

Woke up early this morning for no good reason... Got up had some cereal, got ready for my classes. Went to class at ten with my new freshman and read an American short story with them that I assumed was going to be extremely over their head but I wanted to push them and see what they could handle and I was very surprised and happy to learn that it wasn't extremely over their head, just a little over their head! Ha, it went really well. So, after reading this short story with vocabulary that they have never heard of in their life I broke them up into groups and we did some group discussion.

I had my sophomores at two which was great. It was the first time I've seen them since I've been back and their schedule told them that they had a different foreign teacher, so when I walked in some of them got really excited that I was their teacher again and that always makes you feel good! I gave them kind of a lot of homework so we took it easy in class. After wards they had to stick around for forty minutes for a meeting so I stuck around with them (specifically one girl, Tina) and we talked about our breaks and what we did. And then all my old freshman started walking through the door! I didn't realize how much I missed them until I saw them again! I went over and talked to my favorite ones (yes, I had favorites! They were the nice ones that try really hard...) and they were really upset that they didn't have me again. That felt good too!!

Went home for about two hours and then I was off to my tutoring job. It used to consist of three five year olds and a barely four year old. WELL!! Today it was the regular four, another three year old, another fiver, and a seven year old!! How do I teach a range from three to seven!!! One doesn't listen and the other is a genius! Anyways, it was loads of fun and I taught them the names of clothes and I had them put all my clothes on, it was sooo fun!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Teaching: Day Two

Official day number two back to teaching... but my first day with classes! Today I taught Daniel's freshman who are headed to the Philippines in March (I have them tomorrow as well). We played a few games to get them used to speaking English in front of me because they were really nervous having a different foreign teacher, especially the boys! They are more advanced than the freshman that I had last term which makes it a little more fun for me!

Stephanie and her friend Amy came over for dinner tonight. My Chinese cooking got their approval!! I was excited about that! The two of them went to a bakery and bought a cake for dinner tonight! You really buy cakes for special events! (the cake had a cow on the top made out of whipped cream!) They are so sweet!! We had dinner, I let them look through my new English books that I bought and read over Spring Festival (I read ten books in one month), and then I called my dad and let them talk to him to practice listening to another English speaking accent (my dad's accent is getting more and more southern the older he gets). I love those girls! Oh yeah, Stephanie gave me ham as a present.. some kind of ham in a bag. I'll try it out later and tell you about it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

First Day of Classes

Today was the first official day back to classes here at Wuhan Polytechnic University and I did not have classes! Exciting! I spent about three hours on my lesson plans and schedule. I spent time with one of my favorite friends, Stephanie, and met her classmate Amy...

Valentines Day

My Valentine's Day in China turned out to be my favorite Valentine's Day ever! Daniel, Danielle, Jeremy and I got all dressed up and went out to the ever fancy restaurant Pizza Hut! We ordered from pink Valentine's Day menus and shared 'lovers' meals where everything was made for two! After dinner Jeremy, Danielle, and I went out dancing and made a ton of new Chinese friends!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Random Pictures

Stolen Japan Stories

HELLO! Most of you know that I just got back from my vacation! Well instead of spending three hours writing out what I did I stole Danielle's mass email, replaced all the Taras with Danielles, edited a few minor details, and pasted it into this blog! So, if it sounds different than my usual blog rantings, now you know why! I hope you enjoy...

Danielle, Jeremy, Dennis, and I flew to Qingdao on January 11th at 8 am. Bright and early 8am and got into Qingdao about 10am. Qingdao is a pretty cool place. We didn't doo much while we were there just eat, read, and be lazy. We stayed at the Old Observatory Hostel for only about $5 a night per person. This hostel is located on a hill top overlooking the city. We walked around the city saw the St. Michael's Catholic Church and the Huilan Pagoda on Qingdao Bay. We found this amazing pizza place that smelled just like an American pizza place. Tuesday we spent most of the day in the hostel reading and just doing nothing. Then we went to the Xiaoshan Pagoda and saw a 360 degree view of Qingdao. We saw some crazies swimming in the 30ish degree weather. Then we tried to find this Mexican Restaurant, but failed so we returned to the amazing pizza place yet again. After lunch we went to see the Qingdao Yingbin Guest House, which was the official residence of the German Governor in 1905. It was really beautiful. This part of town had a large German and Victorian influence, so it was really different from most of China. We had dinner back at the hostel in the observatory. Since its low season in Qingdao we were 5 of the 10 people in the hostel. Carole arrived at 2:00am from Hong Kong.

Wednesday we went to the Tsingdao Museum and Brewery, the largest and most famous brewery in China, to see how things are made there. After that we went to this German Restaurant and had some really good German food.

Thursday we left on our ferry for Shimonoseki, Japan. We got on the boat, sat our bags in our 2nd class western style bunk and headed for the lounge at the front of the ship. We sat in the lounge with our new friend, Justin, a cyclist from England for about 3 hrs till the ship actually left. We played games and read to pass the time crossing the East China Sea on the ship.
We disembarked the ship at 10 am on Saturday January 17th, got our stamp in our passports and walked out into Shimonoseki, Japan. We walked over to the train station; Danielle, Jeremy and I left out bags with Carole and Dennis and went out to try to exchange money. We were looking for a specific hotel that we could exchange money at because all the banks are closed on Saturdays in Japan (unlike China where they are open 7 days a week). So we went searching and couldn't find it. We looked around for about 30 minutes trying to find this hotel, but no such luck. We kept seeing the same Japanese characters for the hotel, but no stinking hotel. So we finally thought we had spotted it. We walked up to the building and there were people dressed in all black. The 3 of us walked into the front door and were prepared to ask where we could exchange money, when we notice there is a funeral in progress. So we casually walked out with somber faces. After coming out of the funeral home, we saw the hearse and walked calmly around the corner where we began to laugh hysterically. After that we just gave up looking for the hotel and returned to Dennis and Carole at the Train Station. We then boarded out train to Hiroshima.
After our 2 hr train ride, we arrived in Hiroshima and made our way to our hostel relaxed and watched some SUMO wrestling on TV. After recuperating a little, we headed for the A-Bomb dome. Hiroshima was the 1st city in history to be subjected to nuclear warfare (Atomic Bomb) on August 6, 1945. The A-Bomb directly killed an estimated 80,000 people. The A-Bomb was one of the only buildings left standing. It was crazy. Just seeing how much destruction something can do and kill all those innocent people. It really makes you think. It's like there's this creepy feeling in the air.
We went to the Hiroshima Castle and looked around for a while then got on the subway and headed to Miyajima. We went to a Japanese food festival, had some oysters and other Japanese specialties. Then we headed over to the Miyajima Island. We saw the torii at the Itsukushima Shrine. The island has semi-wild tame deer. We saw the 5-story pagoda, the Itsukushima-inja shrine (a whole lot of really cool orange-red pillars in the shape of a temple). Wonderful photo op and I defiantly took the opportunity.
On Monday we went to the Hiroshima Peace Park and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Center. This was a rough day just seeing all the destruction and pain that went on because of the A-Bomb. I had a hard time keeping my eyes dry seeing all of the after effects. After that we went to the Hiroshima Palace and walked around the grounds and to some pretty temple that I don't know that name of it.
This is the part which wasn't fun at all. We decided to take an overnight train to Tokyo form Hiroshima, but nobody told us there wasn't a sleeper train. So we left Hiroshima at 2:45pm changed trains 4 times then boarded out last train at 12:30am, tried to sleep in our seats and arrived in Tokyo at 5am.
When we got to Tokyo we were all exhausted not only because we didn't get any sleep, but because we'd been carrying our heavy backpacks around all night long. So we had to try to navigate the incredibly confusing Tokyo subway. So we finally found out way to the guy's place that we were staying at. We decided to try to save some money and CouchSurf (a website you can sign up on and stay with people for free and house people). So Yuji lived out of town so we finally got there around 10am. So we got to Yuji's house and he said we would be sleeping on ting on the Japanese style mats in this certain room. So we got there and there were 5 people sleeping in the room and we asked him where we would be sleeping and he pointed to the kitchen and the dining room. So we had a little conference and decided to stay there for the 1 night, but leave and get a hostel the next day. We took about an hour nap and then proceeded out into Tokyo. I honestly don't remember what we did for the rest of the day except get more lost in the subway, ate at an English Pub, went to the Tokyo Imperial Palace I think and took some pictures around the gardens because it is only open to the public 2 days a year. Don't really remember what we did after that (due to the uneventful time and my lack of pictures), but I do remember that we went back to Yuji's place around 9:30pm. We didn't have cell phones and his apartment was locked and we coincidently didn't have the key or know where it was. So we walked to the little store to try to call him. He said he'd be back at 10:30 so we shopped in the little store getting some amazing foreign food. Then we returned to Yuji's place right at 10:30. No one was there; actually we sat outside his place until 11:45 when 2 of the guys that were also staying with him arrived and showed us that the spare key was hidden in the closet right next to the front door. So we were really ticked about that, went in took showers and went to bed on our hard kitchen and dining room floor.
We awoke early the next morning, packed out stuff and left for the train station where we dropped off our stuff and ate McDonald's breakfast. We had to make an unwanted detour to the other hostel that we were staying in that night before making our way to Tokyo Disneyland. All 5 of us had an incredibly wonderful time. We rode my favorite Tea cups, along with Dumbo, Space Mountain, Peter Pan, Alice and Wonderland, Buzz Lightyear, Snow White, Pinocchio, It's a Small World, Pooh's Hunny Pots, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lilo's Luau and saw the Parade. So when we got to the park, we noticed that probably about 2/3 of the people there were wearing some sort of hat and or cape or tail. This 2/3 of the people included little boys and girls, grown men and women, teenage girls and boys, people of all ages. It was hilarious. The day turned out to be a stress free fun filled day.
We stayed in the hostel we had booked and then went out looking for Dunkin Donuts because Danielle’s mom works there and Danielle was obsessed with finding one somewhere on our trip. She heard that there was one in Tokyo and after looking all over for it, we just gave up on it and ate at this really good burger place. We then went on this Ferris wheel and got a very foggy Tokyo, so we really didn't see very much. Then we went to Tokyo's Time Square. We went and sat on the 2nd floor of the Starbucks to people watch. We watched out the window to the street where 100's of people walk across the street in every direction all at one time. We went and had some Ramen noodles, picked our stuff up from the train station and headed on our train for Kyoto. We were really glad to get out of Tokyo.
We got to Kyoto and went to our hostel and got to bed. We got up slowly the next morning and went to set lunch of Miso soup, sushi, pickled fruit stuff, rice, and tea. We then headed out to the Fushimi Inari Shrine that consists of Toriis that form an archway. We walked through this archway and just took pictures. They are so beautiful. We went to Gion, the part of town where geishas hang around. We spotted a couple of them all dressed up, but they were really fast boogers and it was hard to take their pictures. We went to the Yasaka Shrine on our way back to the hostel.
We left the next morning on a train to Nara. We got to Nara and went to the Todai-ji Temple Daibutsuden Hall, which is the world's largest wooden building. It also houses 2 very large Buddha statues. We also saw lots and lots of deer, yes more deer along with another wonderful food festival. Before going into the Temple, Danielle and I encountered this guy wearing a deer costume. Him and his friends (one of which has a Buddha mask on and another with a video camera) came up to us and started talking to us. They introduced themselves and were videotaping us. It was a strange encounter and I'm almost sure we are somewhere on the internet with this deer man and the Buddha mask man. Who knows, it was pretty hilarious though. We also had the opportunity to witness the "Grass Burning Festival" where they lit a mountain on fire. It was really interesting to watch.
We returned to Kyoto late that night and left the next morning for Osaka. We went to our hostel and dropped off our stuff. We found this really good Sushi place and had some authentic Sushi. My brother-in-law, Noah, informed me that Japan doesn't export their rice, so you must go to Japan to get authentic Japanese Sushi. (btw Noah was right). So after that we went to the Golden Pagoda in Osaka. While in Japan, there are certain things that one should do. Some of those things include eating sushi, pretending to be a ninja, seeing geishas, getting things from vending machines, enjoying the heated toilet seats, bowing to everybody you see, and going to an Onsen. You might not know exactly what and onsen is. Well basically it's a room full of public baths. So we walked to this onsen and found it pretty easily. We walked in and took off our shoes, we rented towel and Carole and I went into the girl's part of the onsen. So when we walk in and there were about 10 middle-aged and old ladies walking around naked. So Carole and I kinda just stood there somewhat uncomfortable, but just decided to go for it. So after putting our clothes in the locker, we headed out into the onsen. We were kinda confused about which bath to get into first or where exactly to go first. There were a couple of different baths including an Herbal bath, Scalding hot bath, hot water bath, warm water bath, jaccuzi type bubble water bath, electric water bath (that was really freaky), a cold water bath, and a warm water bath that was outside. It was really fun being in there. Let's just say that it was a real big confidence booster. We were in the onsen for an hour and a half.. Our visit to the onsen was really relaxing and much needed.
The next day (Monday, January 26th) we got up and traveled to the Ramen Noodle Factory. We saw about 150 different types of Cup of Noodles that were glued to the ceiling. We walked through the museum and learned the history of the cup of noodle. We watched the video about how Cup of Noodles are made then we went into the little make-your-own Cup of noodle factory. We got our empty cup and went to the tables to design our cup. I decided to draw a picture of a large cup of noodle, myself standing in the grass and the little chicken they use as sort of a mascot for the cup of noodle. So after finishing our creations, we took our empty cups to the counter where they dried the marker on the cup. Then the lady put the dried noodles into the cup and we turned the crank to flip the cup over so the noodles drop into the cup. So then after that we choose the type of powder for our soup that we wanted (you could choose from Cup of Noodle, Seafood, Curry, or some Sio something). I chose the Cup of Noodle just to be safe. Then we choose 4 different topping ingredients that we wanted. The options were: Pork, Egg, Green Onion, Fish sausage, garlic chips, shrimp, green asparagus, cheese, imitation crab, corn, and kimchi (whatever that is). I don't remember exactly what I choose but I think it was green onion, asparagus, shrimp, and imitation crab. After choosing my soup and 4 topping ingredients, the lady sealed my cup, wrapped it in shrink-wrap and then she put it thought this heating machine to shrink the cellophane. After that I took this plastic bag that they gave us and you had to put your cup of noodle inside it and blow air into it to secure it. Then I put my red string they gave me around the plastic bag to make me a necklace. We then went to the little cafeteria and got some lunch from the vending machines. I had some Sport Noodles that said they were creamy flavored and they were pretty good.
Later that day we went out to the Himeji Castle, about an hour west of Osaka. There was a reconstructed version of this one in Osaka, but we wanted to see the real thing. This is really close to the place where the movie "The Last Samurai" was filmed. We got there about 5 minutes before the place stopped letting people enter, but we only had 15 minutes to get up to the actual castle and look around. We were able to stay and look around the gardens. We met some people and they showed us where this really cool Japanese restaurant. We had some wonderful edamame (baby soy beans), sushi, meat kabobs, and bacon wrapped cheese. Things were normal prices for food in Japan, but the portions were really small, so we went and got something else to eat after that. We went back to our hostel and us girls went into the bathroom and got in the onsen that they had there. It was a blast just the 3 of us having fun in the onsen.
The next morning we woke up and took a taxi to the Ferry Dock to take our ferry back to Shanghai. So the ferry on the way back was kinda boring because the lounge was only opened from 9-11am and 2-4pm. So we mostly just hung out in the room and just read books. Basically it was kinda a dud for the most part except when Jeremy ran into the room freaking out while on the ship. He said he thought he saw a "little person." Yes yes it was just Tommy Lee Jones on the Vending Machine. I'm sure Tommy Lee Jones would love to hear this story.
After getting off the ship we got our passport stamp back into China. Daniele, Jeremy and I made our way to our hostel, while Carole and Dennis made their way to the airport. Danielle, Jeremy, and I decided to stay in Shanghai for a couple of days to see the city, eat some good foreign food, and just hang out. The 3 of us got to the hostel dropped off our stuff and headed for the Superbrands mall where we ate Burger King for lunch. The next few days consisted of hanging out in the hostel, eating American food and shopping. We left at 10:30pm on a flight for Wuhan and arrived in Wuhan around 12:30 am on Feb 1st.
It was a pretty adventuresome couple of weeks. We had a blast, some minor troubles, but got back safe and sound with lots of wonderful memories. Now I am back in Wuhan chilling for a while. I start classes February 16th.