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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekend!

I am officially a Nanjing resident! I am so happy that everything is finished and it worked out well! It is such a weight off my shoulders to know that we are now official residents!

It is finally my weekend! My week was pretty good. My marketing classes went well, they seem to be understanding everything well. I am quite impressed, I doubt I could understand marketing in a second language. My two conversation classes went well this week. They were interesting. I loved my AV English class on Wednesday. The only difficult class was Reading on Friday. The class is ridiculously chaotic. We met as 1 big class two times and they don't seem to understand that now we are back to being two separate classes. Once we finally got that settled, we started to discuss the book. We are reading The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. I think the book might be too advanced for the students, it was really difficult to make any progress in discussion. Hopefully next week goes better.

My adult class today was interesting. We did tongue twisters to work on pronunciation. Then we talked about manners some. My students all work for the same company and are preparing to take an oral exam for the Jiangsu province. I do think we are making some progress!

I have kindergarten again on Monday. I am really excited to see the kids again! My first class in kindergarten went well this week. We sang and danced and did our ABCs. I feel much more confident about that class and am excited to see them grow!

This week in most of my classes we talked about manners & etiquette. It was really interesting to hear what the Chinese students thought about American customs. They enjoyed learning about how we greet each other and our table manners. After we talked about American manners, I had them tell me about manners in China. I learned a lot of interesting things I did not know before.

Some of the things I learned:
Do not give the following as gifts: clocks, pears, shoes, bells
Don't borrow money on the first day of the Chinese New Year
Don't say thank you to friends or hug friends often
Don't say sorry in public
Don't ever stand your chopsticks up in your rice
Refuse any gifts 3 times, then take and thank them, DO NOT open in front of the giver
When "cheers"-ing with someone who is superior to you, clink your glass below theirs, say "gan bei" and drink all that is in your glass
Chinese say "have you eaten?" as a form of Hello, not as an invitation for lunch/dinner/etc
Don't name a baby after an older relative
Don't pat a baby on the head

I learned a lot more, but I don't have all of my notes with me. It was really interesting. A few things I had done or seen done and never understood why. Now it makes more sense!

Last time, Laura asked about pancakes. Since I eat a pancake for dinner almost every night, I should explain. In China, a pancake is not like an American pancake. It is more like an omelet or a crepe. It is made on a griddle, with an eggy batter. Then they add and egg an whatever you want. I usually get cilantro, green onions, peanuts, spice, and some tan stuff (not sure what it is). Then they put a sauce on it and fold it up. You can have them put hot dogs, fried egg, other meat, or anything you want on it. I love pancakes! They are pretty simple, but they are delicious!

Danielle and I are downtown in Gulou tonight. So we are going to out! I can't wait!

I hope everyone has a good Saturday at home!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One month in

Sorry it has been so long since I posted. Real life is much busier than I expected! I am really enjoying everything I have been doing. We are almost done with getting our Resident Permit and being real residents of Nanjing! When we had to turn in our paperwork on Friday (the last day) we stood in line for 3 hours! It was ridiculous! But, now it is almost over. We will have to celebrate once we get our permits!

I can't believe I have been in China for a month. It feels like I just got here, yet it also is starting to feel like my new hometown. We have gotten to know the area and have our regular places. We go to the Muslim place for lunch usually. Or sometimes we go to "Cold Noodle Lady" for lunch on hot days. For dinner we go to "Pancake Couple" several times a week. Pancake Couple is so nice, Pancake wife knows what we want in our pancakes and is really excited every time we come by.

We got paid this week. So we did a little shopping on Sunday while we were downtown! I am going to buy a router, then I will finally have wireless internet in my room! Then I'll be able to play Words With Friends again!! Next time we go shopping, I think I will buy a vacuum! Oddly, I am super excited about it!

This will be my first week with all real classes. We won't be doing introductions or getting to know you games this time. So I will see how everything really goes. I think we will be discussing etiquette & manners in classes this week. It will be exciting to see how they react to American and Western etiquette rules. After I tell them about how to behave in the west, I will have them talk to me about Chinese etiquette. It will be interesting.

Now I need to work on my lessons for the week. Hopefully I will be better about posting now that I am getting into the swing of things here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What a crazy week!

Wow, this week has been eventful! I started classes this week and am still settling into Nanjing. We opened bank accounts this week. I was really worried that it would be stressful, everyone says banks in China are the worst. But, it was actually really easy. We were taken to the VIP area (only time that will ever happen in a bank) and it was quite simple. Now we can get paid! I can't wait! We have also been dealing with getting our Resident Permits for Nanjing. The Health Certificate has been difficult, but will hopefully be done soon. I am really getting settled into my apartment. I am totally unpacked (this is amazingly fast for me) and have started to decorate. I'm also getting used to doing all of my wash by hand. It's kind of a pain, but I will get used to it.

I had 4 of my 6 classes this week. My two writing classes start the last week of September because they are for freshmen. The freshmen just moved in this weekend and then have two weeks of military training. I have one class of Spanish majors and all the rest are English majors. They speak English very well, I'm impressed. I had 80% girls in my classes, just a few boys. Everyone has been very friendly and nice. My students are really great with helping me understand everything. One of them helped me at the post office. I was so glad she was walking by at the right time!

All of my classes are 2 hours, once a week. They are kind of long, but I think that I will be able to fill the time. My easiest class will probably be A/V English with Spanish majors. I have about 40 students right now, but was only supposed to have 19. The course is mostly conversation and some movies, skits, etc. I think it will be a lot of fun! I'm also really excited for the Marketing classes. They are each about 50 students. During the first day, I asked the students what they wanted to learn. So I have a ton of ideas about what to teach and fun ways to get them involved. It is the first time this class is being taught in English, so I hope it goes well. My other class this week was Reading. The class is huge, 90 students, but I have a co-teacher. It was a bit chaotic on the first day, but I think that it will get better once we get into a rhythm. Luckily, a lot of my Marketing students are also in the Reading class. So I will have fewer names to remember and a better chance to get to know them.

Aside from classes and Nanjing assimilation, the week has been pretty boring. We went to Fuzi Miao (Confucius Temple) and did some shopping. You can read about the history of the temple here. We didn't go inside the temple. We just shopped at the little stalls and enjoyed the view of the lake. We made some friends there. There was a group of students who came over and wanted to take pictures with us. They were really sweet and made us feel like celebrities.

Back home, my Aunt Lisa had her baby this week. It's a girl! Her name is Mia Elizabeth and I can't wait to meet her. I'm sad I won't see her for almost a year, but I will hopefully get tons of pictures!

I'm excited for my four day weekend. I definitely could get used to this!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Nanjing Life

We have been so busy now that we are settled into life in Nanjing! I am really loving my new city and am enjoying getting to know all about it!

Last time when DK was here, she made friends with Sherry, one of her supervisors. Sherry is the one who picked us up at the train station this year and has been such a great help. She, and everyone we have met, has been wonderful to us. I am completely in awe of how far the Chinese will go for someone they barely know. Everyone has been so nice and inviting to us.

I got my class schedule this week. I have 6 classes, 4 different subjects. I am teaching Audio-Visual Oral English to Spanish Majors, Reading on Western Culture, Writing, and Marketing for English Majors. I will be working 12 hours a week across 3 days. I am really excited for my schedule, I still get a good weekend but will be busy enough that I shouldn't get bored.

Tomorrow I have a meeting with the English department, so I will learn more about my classes then. I have a co-teacher for the reading class. I met him on Tuesday. He has been here for 3 years and is really nice. He is from China, but grew up in Florida, so he speaks Chinese and his English is terrific. I think he will make the class more fun and easier for all of us.

This week, we have had a lot of time to explore Nanjing. I have ridden buses, taxis, and subways. Yes, the subways are just as crowded as on the internet videos. It is quite an experience. We also walk a lot. Luckily, this is good exercise to work off all of the great food I am eating. It feels like I have not had a single moment of hunger since we arrived. Between street food, little restaurants, and Sherry, we are very well fed. My favorite foods are baozi, pancakes, and hot pot. I definitely won't have to worry about starving while I am here.

In addition to all of the great food, we have gone shopping a lot. One of the best places we have been is Fashion Lady. It is an underground mall with hundreds of stores. Everything is really cheap and there is some super cute clothing. I bought an umbrella there and we all got our nails done. Gel nails were only 40 RMB. That is less than $7! Also, today I bought a wallet at Sanfu. Sanfu is a lot like Forever 21, but with more accessories and random add-ons. It was really neat and I am so glad to finally have a wallet.

Yesterday we met all of Sherry's family. We met both of her parents, her husband, and her daughter. Her family is wonderful! They fed us dinner last night and lunch today. It was so delicious. DK and I were both stuffed by the end of the meal. Sherry's daughter is named Sissi and she is 4 years old. She is absolutely adorable! She is learning English and sometimes she will say words to us in English. Her name means princess and she is definitely living up to it. We absolutely adore her!

After lunch with Sherry today, we went and got massages. They were so great. $10 for 45 minutes! I feel so much better after the massage. I definitely could get used to this! After massages, we went to Hunan Road and walked around. There were so many restaurants and food stands. It smelled amazing. We shopped a little bit and then got dinner. We had hot pot for dinner with Sherry. Hot pot is when you have a pot of soup and you add in any veggies/meat that you want. It all boils and mixes and then you eat it. Mine was delicious!

After dinner, we said goodbye to Sherry's family and headed home. Today was pretty exhausting. I am ready for a shower and then to pass out. I need to make sure I am rested for tomorrow's meeting!

Hopefully everyone has a good weekend! I miss you all very much!