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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today was my first holiday without my family. Unfortunately, my first holiday was my favorite holiday. Therefore, today has been pretty hard. It has been a great chance for me to think about what I am thankful for. I am thankful for so many things.

I have the most amazing family & friends. First, I want to say that I am extremely thankful for Danielle. She is the best friend & I am so glad I am in China with her. She is one of the only people in the entire world that I could imagine being here with. I'm thankful that she has the same sense of humor as me. We both think the same thoughts (often at the same time) and totally understand each other. I'm thankful for her skills in Chinese. She has been so helpful to me just getting through daily life! Also, I'm thankful that she is here with me, having the same experience, so there is someone who understands how I feel and what I am going through. I am incredibly glad to have DK in my life, especially China, and she is one of the things I am most grateful for!

Also, my family has been wonderful to me this year. They were so supportive as I made the big decision to move to China. Now that I am here, I have been lucky enough to be able to talk to them almost every single day. My parents are always interested in my day and want to hear even the littlest details. I'm thankful my mom will get on Skype just to answer a silly cooking question at 8 in the morning! Additionally, I am thankful that they are always so excited to talk to me and that they often let me Skype with the puppies! I also am able to talk to my other family members on Skype & Facebook. Plus, I know many of them read my blog regularly. It is great to feel so loved while I am far away!

Another thing I am thankful for is my friends at home, especially Big Danielle & Chris. Due to the craziness of their schedules, they are often online while I am up during the day. As a result, I get to talk to them often. They always seem interested in my day and the latest stories from my students. They are always there to listen when I need to vent or complain about China. Big Danielle has been particularly great with keeping me involved in her life, so I don't feel out of the loop. I love when she Skypes me with just a normal fashion question or gossipy tidbit. Chris has also been great, I talk to him almost every day. He was really helpful when Danielle was having computer problems. Aside from his tech skills, he has been great for just listening to me when I need to talk about the little things. I am so thankful for all of my friends and how wonderful they have been!

Within China, I am thankful for so many people. Sherry has been such a great help to us and I could not have made it this far without her. She is our translator, guide, teacher, boss, and friend. Having her around has made our transition to living in China much easier. Plus, she is a great friend & I am so thankful that I have gotten to know her!

I am also thankful for all of my students. Now that we have been together for a few months, we are starting to form a closer connection. They are so wonderful and fun. When I am having a bad day, at least one of my students will do something unexpected that makes me smile. Today one of them gave me 12 Sprites (still not sure why), one gave me a coupon for cake, and all of them told me Happy Thanksgiving! Plus, two of DK's students told me that they loved me yesterday. I'm in a pretty good mood regarding all of my students!

I am also thankful for my computer with Skype & email. Without it, I would feel much more homesick and left out. I love how well connected I am to my family & friends.

There are tons of other little things I am thankful for: my pink coat, my heater, cheese, the good exchange rate, my Kindle, etc. Overall, while this might not be the ideal Thanksgiving, it has been an interesting one. I really have had a chance to think about everything I have that means a lot to me, especially the people.

Next year, I can only imagine how thankful I will be for this experience!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Life Update

I have officially started learning Chinese!!! Sherry, my favorite person here, is teaching Danielle & me. I have "class" on Thursday and Saturday. To start, I am learning pinyin, not characters. This week I learned all of the initial sounds that start words. I also learned all of the final sounds. I am pretty excited about learning more. I will finally be able to talk to my kindergarten students about other things!

Today I started meeting with my thesis students. As part of the English department, I am advising 6 seniors on their graduation theses. My students all have business/marketing/retail topics. I am pretty excited to see how they do. I, obviously, have never written a big thesis, so I am a bit nervous. But, I think that my big papers in college are pretty similar. Also, as a native speaker, I can focus mostly on the language.

The only other big thing that has happened lately is the midterm. I graded them and handed them back today. The highest score, without the curve, was a 94% and the lowest was a 39%! I gave them a 6% curve (I was feeling generous). The average, with the curve was an 82%. Overall, I think it was pretty good. Some of them complained and said it was too hard. But, I expected that. The students who actually come to class and participate each week did well.

Last week I forgot to mention that I got 2 packages in the mail! It was a great week! I got one from Aunt Linda & one from my parents! They both sent me candy & magazines & goodies. Aunt Linda even made me cookies and mailed them in a Tupperware! They were fresh and delicious when they got here. No more excuses for not sending homemade cookies! ;) I ate the last cookie this morning. I tried to share, but it was hard. I think DK only ended up getting 3, I loved them too much! I gave out some of the candy to my students. I gave candy to the two students with the best grades on the midterm. I figured they really deserved it! I also was super excited to have American magazines to read. I can see what all the trendy fashions are. Clothing here is crazy, so it will be nice to see something more like what I am used to!

All in all, life is becoming very routine here. I love China and am really enjoying my time. Life is just finally settling down, and sometimes I even forget I am in a foreign country! There are a lot of times that I feel like this is where I belong. I feel like I am part of this new place. That never lasts too long, I still get plenty of stares just for being white & can't understand 99.9% of what people are saying.

Today, 11-11, in China is "Singles Day." It is basically the opposite of Valentine's Day. People celebrate being single & spend time with their friends. It's a pretty cool holiday. Apparently, it originated at Nanjing University in 1993. So it is a local tradition! This year, there are a lot of people getting married on Singles Day. There were 3000 registered weddings in Nanjing today!

I locked myself out of my room today, so I went downtown and spent the evening with DK. She has a key to my room and when we got back she was able to let me in! Thank God we thought ahead and swapped our spare keys. I didn't plan to go downtown, but it was nice. I bought a sandwich at our favorite western cafe. Then I sat in on DK's lesson with the middle school kids.

I should head to bed. Daylight Saving Time has messed up my schedule, even though China doesn't change. It's harder to talk to people at night now, for me. Luckily, I have been able to stay very well connected with Skype & email!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Forgot something

OO, I forgot one of the best things from the week! On Sunday we went to lunch with Sherry. She took us to one of the famous Beijing Duck restaurants in Nanjing. It was soooooo good! I loved it! You take the duck, add some onions & cucumber shreds, put on sauce, and wrap it up in a little pancake. It's kind of like American Moo-Shoo. I ate so much! We also had duck broth soup. It was really good too. I think duck tastes a lot like turkey. So the soup was basically like chicken broth, just a bit saltier. I took a picture of the duck layout. Now you can imagine how delicious it was!


It has, again, been too long since I posted. Sorry!

Today was midterm day for my marketing students. It was the first time I have given a test, felt pretty powerful! I had a big lecture hall, it was kind of intense. Only two students were missing. One student, Sleeping Beauty, was apparently sleeping instead of taking the test. I am truly not surprised at all. He sleeps during class every week. Overall, the kids finished quickly, most were done within an hour. I started to grade the multiple choice, sadly they didn't do so well. But I will see how the rest of them did. Maybe the ones who took longer will do better.

Other than the midterm, my week had been quite low key. I had kindergarten on Monday and we learned the parts of the body. Then we did a craft project. Glue might be a bit over their heads... It was fun though, and they told me they loved me! Definitely made my day! I'm glad they put me in a good mood. When I got on the bus to go home, there was a crazy traffic jam. It took me over 2 hours to go 10 km!! So, 3 hours after leaving, I was finally home. Then, after I finally got home on Monday, Danielle made me spaghetti! It was quite the adventure. First, we found out that our hotplates are induction hotplates. So the cheap pot we bought at Walmart won't work! Next, while making the sauce, we learned that our tomatoes were not actually tomatoes! They were persimmons! Quite different, but they look exactly the same! Danielle ended up making a delicious sauce with the tomato paste, onions, and mushrooms. In the end, the meal was great! It was a nice, home cooked, "American" meal!

tricky persimmon!

Tuesday was a great day off. DK has been feeling a little sick, so we just hung around the apartments. I got some work done grading papers for my writing classes. Now I only have one set of papers to grade and hand back next week and then I will be all caught up!

Wednesday, after classes, we had English Corner, the English club. I stayed in Danielle's last class, so I got there late. But the other teachers had brought in pumpkins for the students to carve! It was really cool, they seemed to love it!

After English Corner, we went to dinner with the two other American English teachers. They are Sam & Xiaodi. Sam is about our age, from up east, and has been here for 3 years. Xiaodi was born in China, but grew up in Florida. He has also been here for 3 years. They are both basically bilingual. Xiaodi's Chinese is obviously better than Sam's, but they both speak perfect English. Xiaodi is a bit older than us, he's almost 30. This is the last year in China for both of them. They were both psychology majors in college. Xiaodi has his masters in psych too, I think. When he leaves at the end of the year, he is going to get a masters in English. When Sam leaves he wants to work in green-tech. They are both pretty interesting and make us laugh a lot. It's nice to have other Americans just a few doors down.

Yesterday was the day with both of my writing classes. I had them do peer editing, so hopefully that will help the papers be a bit more polished before I see them. Their thought processes are great, they just have some problems with getting the thoughts into English sentences. But, I can already see some improvement. Luckily, they are quick learners.

That's really all I can think of right now. Hopefully my weekend will be good. I plan to try and go shopping on Sunday. Now that it is getting old, I want to buy some boots! I just hope I can find some that are my size & aren't too crazy!!