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