Saying Goodbyes…

December 12, 2011

Well, it has been a good two months since I last wrote. The internet in China decided to completely block the WordPress website so I haven’t been able to get on. Thanks to the internet in Hong Kong, I am able to post again.

So much has happened in the last couple months that I cannot begin to tell everything. All I know is that I have completely mixed feelings about returning home in a week. As much as I can’t wait to see other friends and return to school, there is so much that I will miss about life in China. I already miss biking around the city of Kunming, with its beautifully lit buildings and simple people. I miss joking around with my adorable students and fellow teachers that I have grown so close to. I know that I will miss listening to Christmas music, cooking meals, and long-night chats with my Korean twin (Soyoung). I don’t have time to write much now, but here are some pictures that show a glimpse of my life for the past few months.

Thanksgiving meal of four lovely ladies from four different countries

This past Sunday, I took a big step… I bought a bicycle! So far I’ve been too scared to ride it anywhere except a fairly empty street, but I think I will get used the whole biking in traffic thing soon. Pictures of my bike to come soon! Speaking of pictures, I now have a new camera. It takes way better pictures than my old one did, so I’m excited to experiment.

Besides my new possessions, there has not been much going on the last couple weeks. However, I am starting to teach at another school this week. It is similar to the school I am teaching at now, just much smaller. I will teach ESL classes there three times a week. I am also starting my second week of my online classes and so far have been keeping up. Only four more weeks of classes left!…

This week is a Chinese holiday, so both of my apartment-mates have the week off of school. But not me… On Thursday, though, I am going with Soyoung and her tutor to Shilin, a famous stone forest about 3 hours away. The pictures I’ve seen look beautiful so I can’t wait to see it. I’m sure there will be pictures from there in my next post.

Here comes the bride…

September 22, 2011

I don’t know if I will ever get used to the internet here…  I haven’t been able upload my new blog post for the last few days because the site was blocked.  Now I am having to use the internet at the school to add my new post, since the internet at my apartment won’t let me get on the site.  It is so weird not being able to use certain sites or having other sites only work sporadically.

Well, this past Saturday I had another new experience… a Chinese wedding! Well actually, it was a Chinese-Filipino wedding.  A fellow teacher at KGIS (the international school) who is from the Philippines got married to a Chinese guy.  It was an awesome wedding that combined Chinese, Filipino, and Western traditions.

Beautiful Rosalyn

Matt and Roxz

I also had my first try at one of the many foot massage places around here.  You soak your feet in really hot water for 30 minutes and they massage your neck and shoulders.  After that, they massage your feet for 30 minutes.  So, for about an hour of massage, it costs 15 RMB… which is only about 2 U.S. dollars!  It was wonderful after a long day of wandering around town.

So, I am pretty sure that I will have a whole new wardrobe by the time I go back home.  Soyoung and I have been hitting the nearby night street market every so often.  Haha the night street market is basically a street that is lined with cars where people are selling things out of their trunks.  If a police car goes by, all of the sudden all of the cars are closed and the vendors are just standing around trying not to look suspicious.  Not obvious at all… Soyoung is an expert bargainer and she has been teaching me well. I now know important phrases such as “It’s too expensive!” or “Make it a little cheaper.”  I think I will need a new suitcase to carry everything back…

The apartment-mates: Su, Soyoung, and I

Texan Soyoung with her Texas Longhorns shirt and Texas Grilled BBQ flavored potato chips

Chuseok Festivities

September 13, 2011

I am amazed at how easily I have adjusted to living here in China.  The culture shock has not been as bad as I expected and I now really feel at home here.  Soyoung and I are so alike it is hilarious,  and we have such awesome times together.  I have had two lessons so far with my Chinese teacher, 扬老师.  Although we have trouble communicating at times, she is extremely sweet and a very good teacher.   I have to study really hard for the next month or so because I will be working with a Chinese accounting firm weekly starting at the end of October.  They speak no English at all, so I will have to have at least a basic understanding of Mandarin by then.

This past weekend wasa festival weekend for both China and Korea.   It represented a kind of thanksgiving for both countries.  So, I had a three-day weekend full of food and fun.

On Friday, I went on a field trip with the school to a huge lake outside of Kunming.  It was so big that it felt more like we were at the beach than a lake.   The water was crystal clear and surrounded by beautiful mountains.  The 2-3 hour bus trip each way was filled with singing and worship with the kids.  It was great to hang out with the kids and teachers in a more casual way.  Let’s just say that by the end of the day every inch of my body was covered with sand…

 

On Saturday, Soyoung took me to see Yunnan University, the university she is taking classes at downtown.  It is a beautiful campus that is surrounded by cute little shops and western-style restaurants.  We had lunch at Salvador’s, a little café with all western food.  I had a ginger ale and green tea ice cream float… I had never heard of it, but it was on the menu so I thought I would try it.  It wasn’t bad….

Soyoung's first float!

 

Oh I have missed cheeseburgers...

 

Later that day, we finally went to the Kunming Wal-mart.  I was so excited to see what a Chinese Wal-mart looked like.  It actually didn’t look very similar to American Wal-marts, just had some of the same brands. 

 
On Sunday, we went to the international church nearby, which was awesome even with the building’s loss of power.  Yesterday, Monday, was the actual day of festivities.  I had two Korean Chuseok meals: one at the school administrator’s home and one at a friend of Soyoung’s.  Lots and lots of delicious food!  After this weekend, Soyoung and I decided that we need to celebrate every Chinese, American, Korean, and Thai holiday. 

Working Days

September 6, 2011

View from the International School.  It’s on the 29th floor!!

Well, I am starting my second week here in Kunming.  Today was my fourth day of work at the international school.  The kids are very sweet, but most of them have a hard time understanding English that does not have a Korean accent.  I am getting better at speaking clearer and discovering how to explain things  in many different ways.  My internship has been pretty slow starting, mainly just getting to know the school.  Hopefully I will get to start working on my projects soon. 

Starting on Thursday, I will meet with a Chinese tutor twice a week.  She doesn’t speak English, so I’m pretty sure that this will help my motivation to speak Chinese.  I hope that by the time I leave, I will at least be able to get around without Soyoung’s translation help.

Getting Settled

August 31, 2011

Morning devos with Soyoung

 “…but [her] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law [she] meditates day and night.”

Day 2 of Kunming: 

Soyoung and I went to Kunming Grace International School where I will be working for the next 3 months or so.  In addition to helping with accounting and various business duties, I will also be helping the kids with English and tutoring high school math once a week.  It has been quite a while since I have had algebra and geometry, so I have been reviewing over some of their math books they lent me.  Nothing like taking a crash course in math right before I am supposed to tutor…  But helping out at this school sounds like it will be a great experience. 

I guess every foreigner has to register while living here, so Soyoung and I went to the police station so I could register.   It is a little scary when I hand them my passport and they type in the number and all my info comes up on their computer screen.  So I now have a little piece of paper saying that I am an official registered resident of Kunming. 

Oh, and I had my first taste of Chinese food.  We went to a noodle shop and had rice noodles with pork and veggies.  It was good, but kind of greasy and definitely not very healthy tasting.   I think I prefer the many fruits offered at a nearby fruit stand.  We got half a watermelon and two bunches of grapes for 75 cents!  We have basically been trying different fruits everyday. 

Well, this is the morning of day three and the last day before I start work.  Soyoung and I have been very inspired to cook our own meals, so I think tonight will be homemade spaghetti.  No canned tomato shortcuts here.  We’ll see how it turns out.

再见! (Goodbye in Chinese)

Afternoon view out my window

 
                                                        

First Day

August 30, 2011

It is now 6:30 on Tuesday morning and I have been up since 4.  Oh the joys of jet lag!  But, after a long day of traveling, I have made it safely to China!  The flights were pretty uneventful and I was blessed to sit by some very nice people on both flights.  On my first flight to Guangzhou, I sat next to a Swedish/Chinese guy  who helped me practice my Chinese.  The American lady across the aisle on my other side actually grew up in Longview, TX and knew all about LeTourneau! Small world… On my second flight to Kunming, I sat next to a Chinese-American girl my age and we spent most of the flight watching episodes of Mr. Bean together. 

My first day in China was great!  My friend, Soyoung, met me at the airport and we took a van back to the apartment.  After unloading all my stuff, and I took a much-needed shower, Soyoung took me out to see more of Kunming.  The first place we went was a cute Mexican restaurant and we shared a plate of “Awesome Nachos”.  Yes, my first meal in China was Mexican.

  After that, we went to Metro, a kind of Chinese Costco, so I could get some essentials for my room.  Speaking of my room, the apartment I am staying in is so nice!  A very sweet Korean lady owns the place and stays here a few days a week with her son.  Soyoung and I share the upstairs, which has two rooms, a spacious living area, and a bathroom (with a real toilet!).  A girl from Thailand just moved in yesterday too, so needless to say, there are many languages floating around this apartment.  My room is adorable, and even has a  window seat looking over a courtyard between apartment buildings. 

Biggest culture shock so far: the driving and crossing the street!  People here do not adhere to any driving laws, they just kind of get into any opening possible and honk until they get through.  Crossing the street is like playing a human game of Frogger. Literally.   There are few crosswalks, so we cross the middle of roads that are like major U.S. highways and cars do NOT stop for you.  In the words of Soyoung, there is not much value placed on human lives here.  Comforting, I know…  I will have to walk or bike to work everyday, so I am a little nervous about that. 

Looking forward to what my second day here will bring! Maybe I will even get to try real Chinese food. :)

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