Sunday, May 31, 2009

Updates of Spring and Youth

Sorry to any readers who I may still have out there...blogger has been shut down over here and I'm only now finding a way to post (assuming that this DOES post!). Alot has happened since my last update, so I'll try to take some time in the next few days and give summaries of life over here. For now....

Spring: Wuhan had a few miserably hot days, but mostly our Spring has been lovely, with breezes sweeping through the apartment and enough rain here and there to slow you down and make you drink tea by an open window. I've kept my windows open for about a month now and have loved waking up to soft winds and the sound of children playing in the kindergarten below.

Birthday: I turned 25 last month with allll sorts of fun and am continually reminded of how blessed I am. The day before my birthday, my Reading Group students came for Study at my apartment and brought a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of coke, a cute wooden fan with pandas on it, and a gorgeous plum blossom ink painting. I was blown away because I didn't even think that I had told them that I had a birthday coming. My students are SO considerate and sweet to me. I really can't express how glad I am to have them in my life. We had a great study that night that really encouraged me for the Work that we can do here.

The next day I made the trip across the Yangtse River to eat at my favorite restaurant in town, Aloha. This place has the best western food in Hubei--hamburgers and mexican options and incredible milkshakes. After lunch I returned to my side of town for our weekly ladies YARP meeting--at which Katera surprised me with a REAL American birthday cake with REAL icing. In China, the cakes are really decorative, but they taste more like a very plain shortbread cake and the icing has little to no sugar--so they're not my favorite. But Katera had a western coffeeshop in town make me a real cake and it was one of the best things I've eaten all year.

After YARP, it was time to be young and frivolous. For explanation of what occurred, you need background: Blue is my all-time favorite color. I am also a big fan of monochromism--my favorite paintings, outfits, housewares etc are typically always just different shades of one color. I've noticed that when shopping I'm always drawn into the stores that group their clothes together by colors. It's one of my things. Finally, I've always wanted blue hair. I've toyed with the idea of dying it blue many times, but either didn't want to bleach it first or felt that it wouldn't be a good career move or have just been too lazy. Some have asked me why I would want blue in, what type of statement would I be trying to make with blue hair. Rebellion? Punk attitude? Unconventionality? No. I JUST. THINK. IT. IS. BEAUTIFUL. I love blue hair.

And so, upon turning 25, the stars aligned and all my wishes came true. I found a blue wig in a streetside shop earlier this year, I found a sparkly blue tank top on the day of my birthday, I got a manicure with bright blue polished topped with blue sparkles, and loaded on blue eyeshadows in many shades for a night of beautiful blue fun. The outfit was complete with fake eyelashes and my wig securely on and me and some of my favorite girls went out for a night on the town. We danced it up like we would be in our mid-twenties forever. I can certainly say that I've enjoyed my youth!!!

The Great Wall: And now I have just returned from my second trip to the Great Wall. We spent two days on the wall, camping overnight between. I'll write more about this tomorrow--but it was one of those moments in life. We went to a section that is less touristed and so for long stretches had much of the wall to ourselves. We saw the sun set over the wall and woke up in time to see it rise, with wisps of fog and mist rolling over the wall and mountains as the light filled the sky. Incredible. One week into my 25th year, and I was spending the night on the Great Wall of China. During the rest of our trip, I was in Beijing partaking of la vie americaine -- all of the Western restaurants and shops that the capital of this country has to offer. I saw two movies in the theaters, Star Trek and Wolverine, and ate hamburgers, sandwiches, mexican, and indian and even had a quick spa stop. It was lovely. More to come on that.

So--assuming that I am still able to access this site to post, I'll have the complete Great Wall tale and others soon. I don't think I can post pics currently and it's not letting me hyperlink--so I'll put my pics on facebook and you can see them there until the web returns to normal--if it ever does. Stay tuned for more as I have time...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Talk show...

I'm often asked to judge/host/visit all various forms of English-speaking activities...and am never quite sure until I arrive of how formal these events may be. This a common occurrence for those of us teaching English in China. It's usually fun...or at least interesting...and I enjoy this part of the job most of the time. So a few weeks ago some young ladies appeared in one of my classes to ask if I could attend a talk show that they would be hosting as part of the International Study Abroad week in China. It was a week of campus activities designed to encourage studying abroad.

I assumed that this would be another typical low key event--until I googled my name one afternoon and came across the below poster (which I now have hanging in my apt!!!! I love China!). This gave me a clue that this event might be a little more serious! I appeared to a packed room and shared the stage with a professor from our school who lived/studied/taught in the US for about 17 years and a young student who has been accepted at the University of Illinois (or Indiana). The program was entirely in Chinese except for my part... was odd because I realize that after being here for so long, it's hard to quantify in a concise manner an answer to the question of "how are US students different from Chinese students?" and "what are the differences between the US education system and the Chinese system?" and "what might be the greatest surprise to a Chinese student who studies abroad in Amercia?" With China...when you've been here for a while, you find that there are few quick and easy answers. Sometimes it feels that there are even fewer non-controversial/PC responses to some questions. It all seems to require oversimplification and a reenforcement of propaganda and cheese. I'm not implying that the true answers to these questions are neccessarily negative, but they are complex--or perhaps too involved to place in a conversation requiring very basic conversational English. Maybe I'm just too caught up in my own head though...

All in all, it was a fun night. I'm envious of those who were able to understand (it was all in Chinese) the responses of the professor who taught in the US. He spent time at UC-Davis and UC-Berkely before returning to China. He and his family were neighbors of mine for a little while and they're so good-humored and incredibly intelligent and kind. It's fun to watch him because it reminds me that though I may be a "professor" here in China....the reality is that I'm just this 24 year old kid with a bachelor's degree. He, on the other hand, is a real bonafide professor with multiple honors and incredible qualifications. It's good to be reminded of my place in such a cool way! are pics:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mi Casa

So these pics are incredibly late in coming...but better late than never. I have a lot of posts in mind to update on here...haven't had internet in my apt for about 2 weeks! After a long and ridiculously drawn out ordeal, I finally have it back! Anyway, stay tuned in the next few days for updates about my life! Until then--these are pics of what my apartment looks like after 2 years living here. It's been pretty much the same all year....these pics are just being posted late! Enjoy!


The "wallpaper" is actually wrapping paper that I bought in America last summer....about $8 for the amount on these wall. It's held up w/double sided tape. The colors are a robin's egg/tealish blue and copperish brown.

The school gave us a bookcase this year...and cushions for our chairs.



On the wall is a painting I bought in Laos and framed is an antique ad poster I found in Beijing. I got it framed for about US$7.

I brought acrylic paint in the US that matched the color of my wrapping paper to decorate accent pieces. Here are some candles that I painted while watching movies one day...

Again using the paint from America to decorate plain frames to tie in with the wrapping paper. These frames were about US$1.50 each...found here. The pics are some favorites from my travels...Paris, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and China.

This is a beautiful antique wooden hanging that I found in Yangshuo and had to buy. It's probably my favorite purchase from China...

figuring out how to space everything at the beginning of this year.


Not many changes here--the school removed our gas heat so we only have an electric eye to cook with--and I bought some shelves for my ingredients...

The bottom is my "oven." It's one of the largest oven options found in China...not many ppl use them so it's rare to find them in kitchens. Mine was inherited from other Americans who bought it years ago and passed it on when they moved back to the States.


We returned from the summer in America to these AMAZING GLISTENING bathrooms with BRAND NEW SHOWERS!!! We definitely have the nicest bathrooms in all of Wuhan! Notice the three spray options for the faucet: handheld, side spray, and what I call the "overhead waterfall/rain music video" showerhead. The new tile makes a huge difference too.