Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mid-Autumn Festival

If you know anything about China this time of year, you know people are beginning to go crazy- getting plans finalized so they can get home in time for national day with their family (october 1), buying mooncakes to give to friends, and traveling! I heard on CCTV 9 just now that over 3 million people are traveling by plane for the holiday in China. I would imagine the number of train riders is a whole lot higher! Many of my CIEE program tongxuemen (classmates) are among them, going to Beijing, Kunming, Xian, Inner Mongolia, the Three Gorges...

And then there are those who are sticking around- ready to get out and about Shanghai. I for one will be riding my bike around a bit, ringing that little bell like crazy so as not to get killed from traffic that comes in from more directions than you would expect. And talk about riding on the back! Dude!

But I'll be doing more than riding- I'll be traveling around the area with friends, one of them being Lance Webel himself, the only one I know in China who shares a Pleasant Vineyard history...

I can't even say how much that excites me. Coming to China, I've tried hard not to have expectations too specifically, since plans seem to change 90% of the time (at least). But a good old friend. Oh, now that's one thing in China that I have expectations of for sure.

Until then, I'm going to try and beat this nasty sickness that has taken hold of me. In a way, I hope no one calls, because I'm not very good at turning down a chance to hang out or be in any way attached to friends...


Here's just a random list of the last week...
-went to a hip-hop rap event at an expat bar
-had first Chinese test
-visited Shanghai Art Museum's Biennale event
-rode on the back rack of a bike (it's very common here)
-had my parked bike moved two separate times in 2 hours
-ate more streetfood and love it (the fact that it's $.25 makes it taste great)
-visited the largest library in Asia
-tried out for a solo in a Christmas Cantata (sang 'Give you Everything', mom)
-getting familiar with the feeling of being crammed into the subway car
-bought first train ticket all alone and in Chinese :-)

Thursday, September 21, 2006


The latest from Shanghai:

I don't exactly understand what the big deal is. Sure, people wear PJs all the time around here...but how is that uncivilized?? I don't understand.

Oh, friends...

What goodness it is to hear from y'all now and then.

Krista, thank you for the exciting comment! I hope you do. I know where you should go, too :-) I'll see you at Urbana, right? Only 97 days!

I'm learning an overload of Chinese- or am supposed to. First test on Monday. There will be listening, speaking, and writing (not pinyin, but characters, of course...) I haven't actually counted - since I'm not feeling that nerdy - but I know for sure we are to know at least 50 characters so far. Seems like we've learned over 100 words too, in 2 weeks of classes. Whoa! So that's the result of 16 hours of instruction and 4 hours of tutoring.

Maybe Monday I'll know.

Until then, though, I have plans to make snickerdoodles (tentatively), visit a bookstore and the hugigantic library, and enjoy a little of this 'indian summer' weekend. The weather is hen piaoliang lately - very beautiful :-)

Adios muchachos!

Saturday, September 16, 2006



Today, I was witness to kites flown in the "No kite fly" area, paid entrance fee to a park on a rainy day, took on the challenge of the obstacle course (which was almost all wood and certainly not be allowed nowadays in an American park), and had a grill-out with some people who seemed to have never before in their lives had a barbecue.

It was great, except for the exhausted feeling I've had since 4pm.

And it all took place just an hour from downtown Shanghai! I spend the day with 2 Austrians, 2 Koreans, 1 from Hong Kong, 1 Massachusettes-an, and 1 I am unsure of, but his accent was a bit British and he looked semi-Asian...

Getting up at 7 on a Saturday to take the subway and walk to a place you've never been before sure can tire one.

Well, I am going to go get some sleep...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Nimen Hao...

Hello friends!

I just finished my first day of class, which included dreary rain, 2 chinese classes, and Chinese community&social development...

I am having a problem with popcorn (as in, eating it), even though it's not as good here (for some reason doesn't pop well) and I should be eating chinese, not expensive american goods.

One point, though, for the good, are the two kabobs I had from a streetvendor and the jiaozi (dumplings) at a hole-in-the-wall place today. Mmmm.

Today, I felt like life was normal as I sat at my desk, drinking a latte (from a package, it's popular to drink instant coffee here...) and reading my text for class. What a sweet feeling. Of course, though, immediately I thought of how it's not normal, and never will be again.

I'm in Shanghai, China, and have been in China almost 3 months (that's a quarter of a year!). I'm going back to the states only after spending half a year here and will experience major dissonance, having grown attached to China which is half a world away from USA in terms of distance, and incomparable in terms of cultural difference, really. And the family back home will only keep feeling more different as family members go home to eternity, like uncle ron, grampa, and dad... I realize in coming to a foreign country I signed up for major screwing up of the senses. I feel for you who have spent time abroad as well!

But enough pity party on a blog- the good news is I've been seeing over and over that here (china) is where I am supposed to be. It takes time to adjust to this new life in Shanghai, of course, and it is nice having a little more background than most of the beginners in my class (which numbers something like 12 students in the first, and 6 in the second class)

I can tell already that my english is going down... (props to Clare on that one)

Friday, September 08, 2006


So I have arrived to the place I have been preparing for since official acceptance in April, and living in China since July 1: SHANGHAI. To be precise, next to Changning Community College and down the road from KFC and Chinese KFC (I'll get a picture up someday of it, it's hilarious. I have called it KFMao to many, but "Kentucky Fried Mao" doesn't sound politically correct. Perhaps "Mao Fried Chicken" of MFC would be better. Man. What silly thoughts about words no one would even care about...funny isn't it?)

I have an amazing apartment. After having one small room with 4 bunkbeds this summer with one roommate and having to walk down the lane for hot water, it's almost like heaven. I feel very pampered. Let me elaborate.

I walk into my apartment, which has 4 similar-style bedrooms with a single bed, closet, windows, a desk, and fun lighting system. The living area has a couch, big-ish TV, chair, and air conditioning. That section is just a step away from the glass-top dining table and 6 chairs. Walk through a glass door and you're in the kitchen, which came with a washer and dryer, microwave, fridge/freezer, and rice cooker. My bedroom holds the 2nd bathroom, which I share with myself (let's not be greedy, here) and each bedroom has an air conditioner with remote. Excited yet? :-)

So I didn't get a chinese roommate as I'd thought would happen, but I have been able to meet some very nice people in the 90-student program so far this week. We even took a scavenger hunt in groups of 5 ALL over the city, using the sweet transportation system. Did I say it was sweet?

I got place in beginner chinese (6 credits), modern chinese history, modern chinese literature, chinese community and organization development (or somesuch), and am checking out a comparative literature course on how myths influence culture, particularly China, which tells us why people behave as they do. It's because of where they came from. Can you tell I sat with that professor and heard her explanation already?? ;-)

We've been fed amazing food. I just had some amazing popcorn. I just sang some amazing songs tonight with amazing people. I'm going to read some amazing literature.

And for those of you who know I learned some chinese this summer, you will be intrigued to find that what I learned, like "what are you going to do this weekend?" is just about all in my lessons for Chinese this semester. If only I could remember everything we studied and knew the characters, I could be in second semester beginner!!

So for my friends who shared that delightful summer with me and who are looking at coming back, please study your Chinese and learn the characters and you will have a really good start.

I missed you at home a fair bit this week. In the midst of all these new acquaintances, an old face would have been nice.

I suppose I'll just have to wait until Lance stops in to visit...