Thursday, June 14, 2012

China Bucket List

I had my last class on Wednesday. It was sad, I had my Spanish students & I have had them all year, so I will miss them a lot. I won't be at the negotiation final, so I guess I have said goodbye to most of my students. I didn't expected it to be this tough to leave. As of this moment, I want to stay just so I don't have to say goodbye. Yet, I know that going home is the right decision for me. It is time for me to get started on the next chapter in my life. Plus, I miss my family & friends a lot.

Since I only have 38 days left in China (minus the time I spend in Japan/Korea) I decided that I should figure out what all I want to do before I leave.

  • Bird flu alley for noodles
  • Picture w/ pancake couple (check)
  • New pictures on the Great Wall
  • Beihai Park in Beijing
  • Shanghai/Beijing Acrobats
  • Dan dan noodles
  • Go to Talking (bar at Nanda)
  • Maglev (actually take it this time)
  • Wangfujin (weird food street in Beijing)
What I will miss:
  • the food, especially pancakes & noodles
  • presents from my students
  • Sissi (Sherry's daughter, she is adorable)
  • 50¢ beer & soda
  • subways & buses
  • being inventive in the kitchen to try and make "western" food

What I won't miss:
  • the stench of the bathrooms
  • grading papers & preparing lessons (I wasn't meant to be a teacher)
  • wine that is 10x the price of soda
  • having to be inventive to make "western food"
I'm trying to think of more things for my list. If you can think of anything, let me know!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

43 days left!

First, sorry it has been so long since I updated. All of a sudden my life got really busy. I definitely can't say that I have ever been bored in China. I recently took on 3 writing classes, tutored a high schooler, worked at the hotel, and end of the year parties are starting. Needless to say, my free time is a bit scarce.

It is definitely bittersweet to realize that I only have 43 days left in China. Really, it's only 35ish, since we will be traveling to Korea & Japan at the end. I'm incredibly excited to go home & see my family & friends & puppies. But I'm going to miss so many things!

At the most recent going-away party, it was me, my boss (wai ban), two spanish teachers, & the Vice President of Jinling. We went to a local restaurant that had really good food. We drank some beer, the Spanish teacher guy LOVES beer. Also, the two Spanish teachers announced they are getting married this summer. They met at Jinling & have been together for 4+ years. It is a super cute story, so that was pretty exciting. I found it funny that I really understood the Spanish better than the Chinese. I am surprised it is still good (or at least passable) since I hardly ever use it.

At the parties, I have had to eat some things I had avoided so far. Some were ok, most were not. I ate stinky tofu. Holy cow, it tasted exactly like it smells (like horse poop). My colleagues took a picture of my face when I tried it, you can tell I wasn't a big fan. I also at pig's feet. I had tried pig knuckle before but avoided pig's feet. However, when the VP of the university asks you to try it, you try it. There really wasn't much flavor, just a lot of cartilage and skin. Not a favorite. I also had duck blood soup again. Again, the VP kept gushing about how great it is and how traditional it is in Nanjing. I guess it's growing on me, but not something I would pick intentionally. We had a "Nanjing speciality" that seems to basically be the overcooked/burnt rice that sticks to the pan & forms a sort of bowl. It was not good, I ate it but it was really blah. It just tasted like burnt rice, obviously.

Another thing that has been adding to my busyness is that I have ramped up my studying of Chinese. I found a sweet program online, Memrise, that is really great for learning characters. I now have over 100 characters that I know from the program, plus the ones I have learned through daily life. 

The job at the hotel has turned out differently than expected. I do a lot of translation help. I also have been teaching English to the front desk staff & housekeeping. I am doing some advertising and promotional work. However, since the hotel isn't officially open, there is less guest interaction than I had hoped. We do have a group from England coming on the 19th. I am super excited for that. I assume it will be quite exciting & I will be able to be even more useful.

I have been applying to jobs back home. It is stressful, trying to decide what I want to focus on. I have so many interests, but I do think I have narrowed it down to something in the fashion industry. No matter where I go or what I do, clothing is the first thing I notice.

I'm going to try and list things I will/won't miss everyday (whether I post or not) to help me remember when I am home. 

Will miss:

  • baozi, jiaozi, and all the other delicious breakfast foods 
  • the people (duh) 
  • seeing something new/surprising everyday 
  • tofu that is good 
  • being adored because I'm pale 

Won't miss:

  • all the damn bugs (i have never had this many bug bites) 
  • the muggy heat (o wait, I will have that in StL too) 
  • being able to speak in english and not have people understand when I'm gossiping ;) 
  • bones in my food (and the consequent bone pile on the table by the end of the meal)
  • being stared at because I'm white

Friday, April 13, 2012

New Job

It's Friday night & I'm hanging out in MaoShan. I started my weekend job today. MaoShan is about 1 hour east of Nanjing & 1.5 hours west of Shanghai. There is a big mountain & a Daoist temple. My job is at A&C International Boutique Hotel. It is brand new, still under construction, and super gorgeous. There is a hotel, timeshares, spa, and full resort amenities. I have a room in the hotel. It is really nice: King sized bed, breakfast nook, couch, flat screen, cedar closet, and the greatest shower- best water pressure ever. Today was a really low key day. I took the bus down this morning, met a bunch of people (all very nice), filled out some paperwork, ate lunch, took a nap (Chinese lunch is 2 hours), met some big group that was here for lunch, edited some of my students' papers, talked about what I want to do in the job, and had dinner. Now I am back in my room (I'm writing this Friday night & posting it when I go in tomorrow morning), watching TV & enjoying the cozy robe. I'm a little bummed that I didn't bring more food. Eating at 5:00 has me hungry now, luckily I brought some peanuts (my China addiction). I am waking up and having breakfast in the morning with my boss. Other than my new job, nothing exciting is happening. I was supposed to give the negotiation midterm this week. However, the printer doesn't have time to print 35 copies of my test? I will give it next week and just have a fun class this week. My other classes are going well. I start teaching writing in May, that will increase my load a lot. I am going to head to bed early. I'm excited to take advantage of my big, cozy bed.(as expected, this did not really happen...)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Family Visit

Hopefully I will have a chance to go into more details later, but I wanted to write about a few of the highlights of having my family in town.

1. Showing off my city

After being in Shanghai, a totally new city for me, it was nice to come back "home" to Nanjing. I loved being able to show the city to everyone. I knew the restaurants to go to, sights to see, transportation (sort of), and even knew what people were saying most of the time. My favorite part of the time in Nanjing is when they came to Pukou. Walking around campus, showing off my room, and eating at Muslim Noodles was perfect. I feel like they can really appreciate what my life is like. Plus, they got to eat delicious food. We had several meals with Sherry which were awesome. She always takes great care of us & orders more food than we could imagine.

2. Pandas with Aunt Linda

Seeing the Panda Research Center in Chengdu was an amazing experience. The facility was huge & gorgeous. Our tour guide had a lot to tell us & was really good at spotting the pandas. The pandas are just as goofy and lazy as I expected. The best part of that day was when I got a chance to hold a panda cub! He (or she?) was about 7 months old and the size of a one year old child. He was fluffy & cuddly! He was very well behaved & sat on my lap & ate some bamboo. I took a ton of pictures & couldn't stop smiling. Easily one of the most amazing experiences in my life. It is unbelievable how neat it was & I realize it's something most people will never get to do.

3. Xi'an

My last biggest highlight was Xi'an. Obviously, I am pretty partial to Nanjing as the best of the Ancient Capitals. However,  Xi'an is a close 3rd (it can't beat out Beijing). No, I haven't been to the others, but I assume they don't stand a chance. The city was really dusty, but it was neat. I still choose Nanjing as a place to live, though. Xi'an is great for a weekend or a day trip. Seeing the Terracotta Warriors (兵马俑) was really impressive. I just can not imagine how long it must have taken to create those. Also, what went through Qin Shi Huang's mind that he thought he needed this much protection in his next life?! The exhibit is set up in 3 rooms & they are just unbelievably humongous! Each individual warrior is unique & has a distinct face, size, etc. I would have LOVED to see them when they were all originally painted. It must have been overwhelming. After we saw the Army, we got some of the best noodles ever! We just went to a little restaurant by the museum & order basic noodle dishes. However, these particular noodles were not ordinary at all. They were delicious! The texture was perfect, kind of thick, and the sauce/broth was great. They were a really close second to the top of my Xi'an list!

So, those are my top 3 experiences from having my family in town. The best part was just having them only a phone call/room away. I definitely miss them a lot, but now I think they can picture my life better while they are thousands of miles away.

Oops, almost forgot!

Well, I got a bit behind on my posts. Sorry! I'll try and pick those back up, but I should probably try and stay with the present for now.

We are in Week 5 of the semester. My classes have been going well. My negotiation class has dwindled, about half the size it was before. However, the good kids are still there. It works alright, just a bit of a slow start. My other classes are going pretty well. I don't have my writing class yet. I hope that goes well once it starts, but it will be a few more weeks.

My family has come & gone. I really enjoyed seeing them. But, I miss them a lot. I really enjoyed having them around. I am finally getting settled into my life again. No more exciting weekend trips or sightseeing.

The last week has been rather crappy. Broke up with the bf. Still processing it all, but it absolutely needed to happen. Now I can experience single life in China...

One exciting thing from the week is that we finally got a washing machine! Danielle & I are so happy!! Everything was set up on Tuesday & we have been using it like crazy! The warmer weather is helping us since clothes dry faster now. Definitely a modern convenience we missed!

Maybe now I will work on a post filling in from the last month. That or go to sleep...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chiang Mai Day 1

After we got into Chiang Mai in the morning, we got a tuk tuk and headed to our hotel, Galare Guesthouse. Our hotel was nice, but a little older. It was a relaxing place with its own restaurant. Even though we got there way early, we were able to check in to our room. We went & showered and decided to go check out the town for a while on our first day. Our hotel was about a 20 minute walk from the old center of town.

During our walk, we came upon a couple wats. One of them was spectacularly horrible! DK & I dubbed it "Grandma's Wat" after her grandmother. It seemed like it was the leftovers after Thailand had a garage sale. There were awkward statues everywhere, including Donald Duck, a giraffe, and a lion. The inside of these wats was not very exciting. Another Buddha, which, sadly, was becoming unimpressive & common place. At the next wat we came to, there were chickens & a rooster roaming around. This is normal in a Buddhist temple, but not ok with DK. She is terrified of chickens. Luckily, with my guidance, she stayed safe.

After all of that excitement, we went further downtown & wandered around. There was another Boots pharmacy, our new favorite after Bangkok. We had lunch, also delicious! Next, we checked out some little stores & I bought some Thailand pants. They are hideous & I won't wear them in public again, but they worked great for my circumstances. After our tour of the old part of the city downtown, we headed back to our hotel for a rest. We had cooking class that night & wanted to be on the top of our game!

We had a van pick us up for cooking class. Every single person in our group was part of a couple, including honeymooners from Australia & belated honeymooners from the US. So, we tried to make the best of it as sisters. Our instructor was great; she was very excited & enthusiastic. Plus, she is a great cook! We did a tour of a market, to learn how to choose the best ingredients. Then, after a tour of their little garden, we finally got to start cooking. I made Pad Thai first, I figured that since it is such an iconic dish, I should know how to cook it. DK made some sort of soup. We split up the dishes so we would learn as much as possible. Everything we made was delicious! We did a main dish, a soup, a curry, & a curry paste. There are pictures on the photo site (we promise to caption soon) and we got a souvenir cookbook. So once I am home, I can cook Thai food for you!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Final Day in Bangkok

For our last day in Bangkok we decided to do some shopping. Our train left around 6:00 that evening, so we had the whole day to shop and wander around. We had heard some amazing things about food courts in Bangkok, so we decided to add that to our day. We went to Siam Paragon, a really great mall relatively close to our hotel. It was apparently terrifying mascot day at the mall, but we were able to avoid that pretty easily. We started downstairs at the food court. It was bigger than any I have ever seen before. There were different sections for different types of food. The biggest was obviously Thai food, but there was also Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Western. We ended up with pad thai & it was delicious! After lunch, we wandered around looking at everything there was. We decided we would check out more food after we did a little shopping. The mall was pretty huge & had all sorts of stores. We gawked at all of the fancy jewelry stores and peeped at the fancy clothing stores. There was a section of the mall devoted to cars, which I loved! After we finished shopping, I got a belt at Zara, we went back down to the food court. Then we saw the best surprise possible- Auntie Anne's! Bangkok definitely has more American goodies than Nanjing. Our pretzels were totally delicious! It's pretty sad we won't have any more for 6 months! After our mall trip, we headed back to the hotel. We got our stuff & went back to the train station to go to Chiang Mai. We had an overnight train, which was a new experience for me. DK & I both has top bunks, which the train people put down around 7. Our night was pretty low key, we just read and chatted with each other. Unfortunately, the people on both sets of seats next to us were completely obnoxious! One couple was French and the other family was German. They were loud & drunk and kept making fun of the train attendants for their English. It was super annoying! I wanted to poke them in their eyeballs! Eventually, with the help of my iPod & headphones, I was able to fall asleep. I didn't get much sleep, our train got into Chiang Mai around 6 & they came to put up the beds around 4:30. All in all, my first overnight train was successful, if not annoying.