Wednesday, 17 December 2008

One more day!

I will pick up my mom in Beijing tomorrow!!! I'm so excited to see her and to be able to show her where I've been living the past 3 1/2 months. She's been all over Europe, so China is a new experience. I'm so happy that she will be here for Christmas-it wouldn't have felt right without her. Plus, I've missed going shopping with her and out to lunch and doing lots of girlie things.

Last Saturday-Katie, Curtis, Josh, Justin, JinJing, Sabrina, and I went to Beijing for the day. We visited 3 different American eating establishments-all were delicious. I had orange sherbet at Baskin Robbins-it was fantastic. I love sherbet and hadn't had any in many months. The ladies went to the Silk Market, while the gentlemen stayed at a giant mall and shopped. I love the Silk Market-there's so much to buy, but it's exhausting constantly bartering for prices. And, since I'm obviously a foreigner-they really try to take advantage. I think I got good prices for my purchases. It was very good day!

Sunday, 7 December 2008


Recently, I was showing some students pictures from home. They wanted to see my "live" Christmas tree from last year. In the same photo album were pictures of my apartment in Wichita. They were amazed that my apartment was just for me. They thought it was so beautiful and that I was so lucky to live there. Granted, I love my apartment, but it is an apartment and just a one-bedroom one at that. However, that's the American mind-set. We're very spoiled. Don't get me wrong, I love my country. I think this is one reason why I enjoy moving abroad. I love experiencing new cultures-even though adapting takes time, but it makes me much more grateful for my own country. Remembering being an American is a privilege and something I should not take for granted so easily. Anyway, I think this China experience is very beneficial for me and reminds me to keep things in perspective.

Being away from home also makes me grateful for all of you in Kansas. I'm very thankful for my mom and grandma who always support me on all my random journeys. They may not understand why, but support me nonetheless. My mom is even flying all the way to China (in less than 2 weeks!) to spend Christmas here. We had planned to go to Paris this year for Christmas, so China was quite the change, but she's looking forward to a new adventure.

It's about 5 weeks before my American holiday and I'm looking forward to it. I'll be back January 12-February 17. It will be nice to have a Western shower (I think that has been my worse living adaption), excited about eating turkey, driving, shopping at Dillard's and Target, blending in, and seeing everyone!

Thursday, 4 December 2008


I've been a bad blogger and I apologize. My schedule is crazy busy until my American holiday-I'm definitely never bored.

We had a good Thanksgiving dinner. Each American teacher brought something and then we played poker. We can't find turkey here, so we had chicken. Other than that, it was pretty traditional, except for me bringing pineapple. China has fresh pineapples in winter-they're grown in the south where it's warmer and shipped north to us. I love it! I eat pineapple pretty much everyday.

I had a pizza party with my IELTS students the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Some of them had never tried pizza (gasp!). It's expensive for them, but a bargain compared to US pizza prices. I can get a large, cheese pizza for $5.00. Anyway, they all loved it and we had fun.

Last Friday, I went bowling with my IELTS students. Some of them had never been before and were super funny to watch. We had fun and now have a discount card for the bowling alley, so it's about $1.00 per game.

My mom will be here two weeks from today!! I'm so, so excited! I flew back and forth more from England, so this is a record of being away from family and friends. Plus, I've yet to see the Great Wall and will be taking her there and numerous other tourist attractions.

Vickie and Sabrina (in blue) Sorry these are blurry-taken with my phone

Sabrina and Shannon

Peter (kind of sad because his ball kept going in the gutter)

Miss Sabrina

Miss Shannon

Friday, 14 November 2008

Ode to English Names

I've been meaning to blog about this subject for awhile, but keep forgetting. Anyway, most Chinese students pick their English names when they have a foreign teacher during their freshman year. Now, where they come up with their names is beyond me and, boy, are they creative. Josh and I both have Dolphin. Josh has Orange, Seven, and one student wanted his English name to be Copyright, but Josh (wisely) had him pick a different name. I subbed for a freshman class and had Baby McGrady, Wind, and Sword. I don't know if they hear it somewhere or read names in a magazine or book and think it sounds good so that's their name. Some of them are very amusing and it's hard to call them by their name with a straight face. They also have a tendency to change their name often. I finally learn everyone's English names and they tell me that they've changed it. I've been trying to learn my IELTS students' Pingyin names-I pronounce a few their first names correctly and most of their family names. They're determined that I learn them, so I guess I'll keep practicing.

Another thing that amuses me about the students is their curiosity. I guess some people would say that they're nosey, but I think it's more of an interest in learning about foreigners and how we live. At one point during the Halloween party, I glanced around watching my IELTS students. They all know me really well and are super comfortable with me, so they have no problem being curious. Anyway, I had Della and Vincent looking through my kitchen cabinets, Peter had my US phone and was taking pictures with it, Justin was going through my dvds, Sunny and Viola were trying on all of my lotions and perfumes, and my favorite was Philip. I walk into my room and find him reading my deodorant. They don't have deodorant in China (fortunately, they don't smell bad). He didn't know what it was, so he decided to take a close look at it. Again, I don't mind their curiosity in the least, I think it's quite funny.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Lots of pictures

I've been falling behind on the blogging-sorry! Things haven't slowed down much-if anything, I've been even more busy. I think Sundays are my busiest day of the week, which I don't really like. I'm used to (and enjoy) being lazy on Sundays. After Mass, I tutor a 15 year old named Tanry. He's really sweet. However, last week, his parents took me about for dumplings. I cannot get away from those things.

On Halloween, I had a party for my IELTS students at my apartment. I had an in-class party for my writing class-there's 30 of them and they won't all fit in my apartment. My IELTS students were good sports. We bobbed for apples and played the mini pumpkin pass game. They were super fascinated with the mini pumpkins and kept asking me "How do you eat them?"

I'm also including pictures from our dumpling making. I mentioned to my IELTS students that I wanted to make dumplings (this is before I tried them). Since they're crafty, they rented a room at restaurant and we were given the dough and fillings and made them ourselves. They were fun to make, but not to eat. To me, it's just wet dough with boiled eggs and carrots inside-I'll pass.

There's also pictures from English corner, which is just a place for students to practice their English. It's mostly for freshman-my students think they're too cool to go. Josh says some of the freshman have never seen a white person, so when we go, I usually just feel on display. Most students are too nervous to talk to us and just stare. Anyway, they had a special performance night and Josh and JinJing hosted.

English Corner: Josh and JinJing

English Corner, a performer

Sports Meeting Opening Ceremony (basically a big track meet)

Sports Meeting

Beijing (west train station)


Longest staircase ever (Beijing subway)

The very disorganized Beijing West train station

Large lanterns to celebrate the university's 50th anniversary

One of three little kitties adopted by my apartment building. This is Calvin.


The Harry Potter store in Boading

Steve taking my picture while I take his

Sunny and Sabrina

Everyone watching Vincent

Sabrina and Viola working hard on the dough

Steve being silly with a large knife with Sabrina

Lil dumpling

Finished Product

Halloween party

Sunny and Della

Punch with ice hand


Philip and Vincent (like I said, they really liked the mini pumpkins)

Peter and Bruce passing the pumpkin (the boys were really funny to watch)

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Busy bee

That's me lately. The days are flying by and I seem to be always on the go.

To catch you up-I went to Beijing for a few days for the National Day holiday. One of my students, Sabrina, is from Beijing, so she came to pick me up at the train station and was a great tour guide. We went to the silk market, TGI Fridays, and Space 798, which is a bunch of different art galleries-I loved it! I'm learning my way around central Beijing pretty well-the subway is easy to manage although the Pinyin names are tricky, but I'm learning. Beijing was great, but way too crowded. I know China is overpopulated and Beijing is the capital and all, but it was ridiculous. People are way too pushy in the subway and everyone cuts in line, which drives me crazy. I met quite a few random people-I met a calligraphy professor and his interpreter and they wrote my name in Chinese for me. I met a cool server at TGI Fridays who has a perfect American accent, but he was born and raised in Beijing, and I met another American (at Starbucks) who teaches at the accounting university in Baoding-small world. My hotel was nice-a Marriott-it was attached to a mall and numerous American restaurants-what a perfect place for me. I also loved having a western shower-I took like 10 showers in 4 days. Never take for granted your western shower!

Last Friday, we had a sports meeting on 2nd campus, which is basically a big track meet. The different department majors set up booths to share what they're working on. It's mostly for freshman, my senior IELTS students do not consider the sport meetings cool enough for them to go, which is funny. I thought it was a good experience for me. We didn't stay very long-Josh, JinJing, and I left to go shopping for Justin's birthday presents. On Saturday, to celebrate Justin's birthday- Josh, Lindsey, JinJing, Justin, and I went to Sandy's (an Italian restaurant where the staff knows me by name since I go there 2 or 3 times a week). Then, we went to KTV, which is a karaoke bar (but more cool than KS karaoke bars).

Today, I filled in for one of my fellow American teachers, I had freshman English majors. Some of them are pretty shy and nervous to talk to a foreigner. For the most part, they did alright-I kept it fun-we played vocabulary Bingo and hangman. My English majors (juniors) and I are working out better. I was having some trouble breaking down lessons for them. I have a bad tendency to compare them to US English majors (since I was one) and I can't do that. They are not at the same level, which is understandable since they have to learn an entire language in order to be an English major. However, when I found out that they had no idea what a research major paper was-it really threw off my syllabus. So, I had to reorganize and break things down much more.

And, you know you've hit rock bottom when you start buying and eating food off the street. I'm there. It's sad. I miss chicken!!! I've been having a recurring dream of roasted chicken. It's hard going from eating chicken everyday (sometimes twice a day) to eating it a few times a month. Anyway, street vendors sell all kinds of things (I haven't been eating any of the meat), but I eat fruit kebobs, popcorn, and hawthorne. Tomorrow, I will get to eat chicken!! JinJing and I are going to Beijing for the day-yay! TGI Friday's here we come! She's never been there, so no time like the present. We're going to do some shopping and go to Jenny Lou's to stock up on American food. Which also reminds me of what a great mom I have. My poor mom has been sending me huge boxes every week since I've been here (sometimes more than one box a week). She and my grandma are kindly sending me 3 boxes this week. I'm having a Halloween party for my IELTS students and there's nothing here to decorate with, candy, or anything, so they are sending decorations, food, etc.

I still love my IELTS students-they're so much fun. Thursday they are insisting that we make dumplings and that I eat them. They worry that I don't eat enough, although I'm hardly wasting away. I recently tried a dumpling (last Sunday)-it didn't go over well. It had carrots and eggs in it. I like carrots and eggs separately, but boiled in a dumpling? Not so much. My students don't believe that apple dumplings exist-they laugh every time I mention them. Frankly, apple dumplings and chicken dumplings are the only ones I've heard of-they put weird things their dumplings-seaweed, fish, cabbage, etc. Oh and they eat donkeys here. Donkey meat is a speciality in Baoding. How could you eat a cute, little donkey?!? They also have trouble with the concept of borderline vegetarian. I've told them many times that I only eat chicken and they are constantly trying to get me to eat pork, beef, or fish. They say "we'll make the pork taste good, so you'll like it"-nope-not going to happen. Also, when you do order fish and they bring it to the table-the whole thing is just laying on the plate-head and all. They eat the head-supposedly, the eyes and tongue are the most nutritious. Probably needless to say-that didn't go over well with me.

In case you forget...

My hotel room in Beijing

Sabrina (left) and Yon Yon

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Hanging out with students

This has been a really good week. Wednesday-Curtis, Katie, and I went to Beijing for the day. Katie's mom is here visiting and they went to the airport to pick her up, we went early so we could go out to eat at TGI Fridays and go to Jenny Lous. It was a fun day and I was super happy to go to Jenny Lous-they had everything I wanted (except powdered sugar), but that's ok. TGI Friday's was delicious and I made it back to Baoding by myself, so I figure that's a small accomplishment.

To celebrate two of my student's September birthdays, I made a chocolate cake (from scratch) and invited my IELTS class over Thursday after class. They all loved the cake-the boys kept coming back for more.

Today, most of my IELTS students took me to the former Baoding governor's home. It's not like a governor in the States and no one has lived in the buildings for over 200 years. All of my IELTS students are pretty fluent in English-they are all taking the Internat'l English Language Testing System test this semester. They have to pass it in order to study in England for their Master's degree. Their majors vary-some are communication majors, electrical engineer majors, etc. Sunny is taking her test next month-I think she's ready. Peter is the only one that can understand me when I talk too fast (which is too often-I'm working on it). It's funny-when I talk too fast-he'll translate to everyone else what I want them to do.

We had a lot of fun today and they are all super knowledgeable about their country's history, so I learned a lot from them while they acted as tour guides. I'm pretty close with my IELTS students because I have them 4 days a week. They're all super sweet! Poor Peter had a fever today, but came anyway. We did a little shopping afterward and went to McDonald's. McDonald's was interesting-they were excited to have a foreigner visiting and had us sit down first and came to the table to take our order and brought us our food. It was really nice and they gave me a McDonald's/Olympics fan. Sunny said is was because I am an American and since McDonald's is American food, we got special treatment.

Tomorrow, I'm going to play badmitton with them-I haven't played badmitton since high school, so that should be interesting.

I'm headed to Beijing next Wedesday until Saturday. We don't have class next week for National Day, so I'm staying at a spa hotel. I'm looking forward to it. One of my students, Sabrina, is from Beijing, so she is picking me up at the train station and showing me around. I'm definitely taking her out to TGI Fridays and Starbucks!

Here are some pictures of my apartment and random pictures from today!

Living room

TV and wicker drawers


Bathroom (my least favorite room-the shower is kind of a pain)

The teeny-tiny drain that all the shower water has to go into

Kitchen (check out my chocolate cake!)

Kitchen (other side)

A cute dessert my friend, Shannon, gave me

Sugared Hawthorne-it's like a candy here-one of my students gave me a bag full.

Miss Bonny in the cab (sorry the picture is the wrong way)

Getting organized outside the former governor's home (Steven, Peter, Bonny, Sunny, Philip, and Vincent)

Vincent and Peter


A canon

Hanging lanterns

Inside the courtyard

Philip (in green) and Steven being silly (big trees are rare here)


Entrance into the governor's sleeping quarters (I think)