Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Little Rascals of China

Now that I’m back home from a trip to the United States – how weird does that sound?! – I figured it was time to talk about some more differences in the USA and China. Although I don’t have any pictures ready for this post, I promise it will be just as entertaining & informative. I mean it's about the Little Rascals of China, how could it not be?!

This morning, I was riding the metro to work while reading a book that I borrowed from work. Now this book is a graphic novel (The Lightning Theif) and believe it or not but it came in handy to help a crying toddler. Her grandmother just couldn’t get her to be happy. Fruit wasn’t working. Neither were the short but I’m assuming funny phrases she kept trying to tell her. So she says “Look at her book!” and I can understand this much. Knowing they are looking at the cover of the book, I turn it around and let this Chinese toddler flip through this English book. Nonetheless, the grandma wasn’t able to understand any of the words, but it helped entertain the child with all of the pictures and color. Who would have thought it would benefit me bringing a graphic novel with me on the metro? I thought it would just make me look much younger than I am.

Going off of babies, most of them here wear these pants that have slits in their crotches in order for easy access when they have to go to the bathroom. Yes, literally whenever. I have seen kids being held up so they can pee in a trashcan, and kids pooping on a piece of paper – if the parent is prepared - on the sidewalk. It’s almost normal to me now. It’s just a different way of life. I mean it really would save a lot on waste if you think about it, and it allows kids to be potty trained earlier on in life. One of my friends says she sees many parents with pee or poop stains on them since they have to carry their kids, but I have yet to see that. I’m still looking though.

After teaching Chinese children, I have noticed that they also like drinking hot water a lot. The little ones are always asking their parents in the first class to drink water, and you know when one asks, they all want some. When they get sick, the need for water exponentially increases as well! I think they view it as a health-saver almost. I’m not quite sure, but it’s a common solution for anything. Stomach is upset, drink water! Headache, drink water! Feeling cold, drink water!

Living in China definitely has its ups and downs but after this week, I think it is starting to feel more and more like home. I was able to organize my room to my liking by setting up a workout area of my room and got more groceries to stock up my pantry. Now to just find a winter coat since each day is getting colder and colder!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Happy 65th Birthday, China!

I apologize for not posting more, but I’m finally getting into the flow of having a full-time job. I’ve been here now in China for 2 months now and couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

In a week though, I will be back in the USA for a quick trip to see my best friend get married. I cannot wait to be there for her and see my friends and family. Thankfully, everything is working out for this trip. As I mentally prepare to go back, I’m thinking about things that I am excited about or things that I miss, and honestly, I really only miss the people. I’ve become less materialistic because of the fact that I only took one large suitcase here and realized that is really all I need to be happy, even in China.

Many people always view China to be so different, but in reality, it isn’t. There are some major things that stick out like using a VPN to access certain websites like Facebook, Google and now Instagram or simply the comfort of your own culture in regards to food, traditions or language. Overall though, there are people, buildings, streets, cars, buses, malls, etc. just like everywhere else. Thanks to technology it makes the distance seem much smaller than it actually is.

I’ve gotten used to my life here and love most aspects of it. You can find the food that you are used to and people who are from your country. You can take part in activities you enjoy and explore so many places. That’s what is so great about living in a city of this size. Anything is possible.

I have found a decent burger joint, Mexican restaurant and pizza place all just 15 minutes away from my apartment. Of course, I do love eating Chinese food, but I will never give up my love for variety or even my love for exploring new places.

That’s exactly what I’ve been doing on my off days. Whether I have a game plan or not, I will always take my new bike and go find some place that I have never been to before. Since I’ve seen most of the touristy areas from previous travel, I’m checking out more of my neighborhood or surrounding areas nearby. It’s really nice feeding my love of exploring each and every week.

Happy Birthday, China! Thanks for these 3 consecutive days off, plus the two other random days. Holidays in China, that's a whole other topic to discuss. In the meantime, check out Facebook as I have just updated all of my photos so they are up to date and have captions!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Exploring Beijing

So I know it’s been a while since I last posted, and I bet you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to. I’ve been exploring in the small amount of time I have to spare when I am not working. Here’s a little bit about everywhere interesting I have been thus far.

1.       Lama Temple – We went here the first week during training. My favorite part was this giant statue that was inside the main building. It was unbelievable.
The Entrance

The Tall Buddha

Another Buddha

The Whole Group of New Teachers

2.       International Art District – My roommate and I went to a local art district one day, and we were pleasantly surprised with what we found. This place is maybe a 15 minute walk from us and has a lot of cafes, art museums which change every so often, a gift shop, and some restaurants.
A Neat Chair Archway

 Posing by Some Outdoor Statues

Neat Piece of Art Showing Chinese Paper Cutting

Random Outdoor Statue

Awesome Light Fixture of Many Lightbulbs

Interesting Armour

Funny Statues

A Wall of Moving Pictures

Outside One of the Art Museums with Random Statues

3.       IKEA – After getting our first paycheck, we realized we needed more things to fill up our apartment with. Things like knives, good quality pots and pans, and other miscellaneous goods. We knew IKEA had knives so we went there. (It was hard for us to find knives anywhere, and when you do find them, you have to provide your ID in order to buy them.) After we got to the closest metro stop, we decided to take a little 3 wheeled vehicle to IKEA since it is cheaper than a taxi and it would have been a lengthy walk. Little did we know, we would be driving without the door shut and on the wrong side of the road. Thankfully we made it, and we now have knives.

The Driver

The Open Door

My Roommate and I
4.       Temple of Earth Park – This park was nearby our hotel so some people went there every day. For me, I just went once with some friends and explored since it is a rather large park. We found so many different activities going like kite flying, playing music, Chinese card games/chess, and dancing. Yes, we did participate in the dancing for a few songs.
Two of My Friends Dancing with the Chinese Women

This Expert Chinese Kite Flyer

Do You See the Kite?

5.       Qingfeng Park – Parks are everywhere in China which is something that I really like. This is the park that is closest to our house. It offers a great view of Guomao which is Beijing’s Central Business District (CBD). It also has a riverside running path, a kid’s carnival area, and a pond. I will definitely be visiting this park rather often.

The Peaceful Lake 

Walk by the River

CBD Across the River

6.       Rush Hour Metro Ride – With my work schedule, I typically miss rush hour on the metro which is so nice; however, one day I had training at 9 am on a Monday. I had completely forgotten about how busy the metro can be. I waited for the second train since there was no room and was still squished like a sardine. Luckily, I only had to go one stop like this, and then it wasn’t as crowded.

Packed to the Limit
7.       Company Water Park Party – Last week, one of my off days consisted of a company party at a waterpark. I would normally be very excited for this since I love swimming and water, but this time I wasn’t as excited. It was supposed to rain all day. Turns out, it only rained in the morning and late afternoon so the middle of the day wasn’t so bad, and we were able to do our dance competition and swim in the wave pool for a bit.

The Sandy Beach before the Wave Pool

The Water Park
A Chinese Twist to a Water Park

The Water Park

My Co-Workers!

Friday, August 22, 2014


With the death of a fellow member of the Marietta College Pio Nation, I only felt it was appropriate to write about Marietta today. I’ve been struggling with not going back there this year so much. It’s not because I am halfway across the world. It’s simply due to the fact that it is the first time in four years where I am not returning back to the beautiful, historical riverside city with all of my classmates.

I never saw this coming. My fear of missing out (FOMO) is off the charts this past week with more and more students arriving back on campus. Those four years at Marietta were truly the best four years of my life, just like my parents told me before I even started my journey there. I never realized how great college would be.

Not only was I immersed in a great learning environment, I was also fortunate enough to have such great friends in so many organizations. I would love to go back and just have one more day with all of these people who have impacted my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined.

But now that students are returning, I’m afraid of so many things. I’m afraid people will forget about me. I’m afraid that I will forget about all the good times. I’m afraid that Marietta will change because the people that I am used to being there are also leaving as more and more people graduate each semester. I’m afraid Marietta will never be the same.

Though some of those fears will more than likely happen, it’s something I need to learn to accept, and that’s what my focus is this week. The people that I bonded with the most will remember me and stay in contact, just like after high school. Change is bound to happen, but I have to remind myself that life goes on. Just because it is not exactly how I remember, people are still enjoying themselves there. I want them to have an amazing experience there like I did.

RIP Zane Carter. You will never be forgotten and will forever and always be a part of the Pio Nation.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Place Called Home

Finally, I can say that I have my own apartment – well, it’s shared with two other girls, but still, you get the point. Though it is in a foreign country, I have a key for a place that I can call home. I just want to talk about some of the differences about apartments in China and in the U.S.A. today.

1. No dryers, just hang dry
It’s common in China to see clothes hanging off of buildings as they air dry them. Even in our fairly Western apartment, we have a rod which is inside our laundry room where you hang dry your clothes. You just have to plan to have a day to get your laundry because it sure isn’t instant like a dryer.

2. Most come furnished
The number of people that live in Beijing is around 25 million I believe. With that being said, almost all of the apartments here come with furniture that the landlord supplies. It wouldn’t really be logical to have huge semi-trucks moving furniture from apartment to apartment. Although some people attempt to move some furniture on the back of their little tricycles and other smaller vehicles.

3. No ovens, but we did negotiate a toaster oven
It isn’t common to bake things here or even use an oven in any means. Explaining to the landlord during the negotiation process that we wanted a toaster oven was quite an interesting endeavor.

4. Pay 3 months of rent up front – plus the deposit
This was a huge part of the moving expenses (besides the plane ticket I bought at the last minute thanks to the visa process). This is the main reason that housing in Beijing is so expensive. You pay rent quarterly, which means I will have to pay at the end of October as well. I don’t mind paying for this view though – the skyline is Guomao

5. Pay for utilities before you use them, or else you have no utilities
Unlike the states where you pay for your utilities when you get a bill for how much water, gas and electricity you have used in the month, China works on a pay as you go system. If you don’t pay ahead for your utilities, you just won’t have any until you pay. Quite simple, but something we need to pay attention to.

6. Water heater has to be turned on in order to use hot water 
Inside the kitchen there is this huge mechanical box that has to be turned on in order for there to be hot water. Luckily, ours doesn’t take that long to heat up because other can take up to 45 minutes to heat the water. However, you have to press the on button as well as plugging it in - I had to teach my roommates that after they took a few cold showers.

7. Take your shoes off inside
The ground in China is considered dirty which makes sense because I’ve seen so many children use the restroom on the sidewalk and the squatter toilets aren’t the cleanest. When you enter someone’s home, it is likely that they will give you slippers to wear in order to keep your “dirty” outdoor shoes off of their floors inside their house.

8. Chinese deep cleaning is different than American deep cleaning
Our apartment was “deep cleaned” before we moved in but deep clean in China has a different meaning than in America. With that being said, we did our version of deep cleaning before moving in completely as well.

9. Can’t flush toilet paper down the toilet
If you choose to do so, then you will more than likely clog the toilet. The piping here just isn’t made to have the paper be flushed through them. So having a trash can next to the toilet is necessary.

10. Bathrooms normally don’t have shower stalls
Typical Chinese bathrooms do not come equipped with a glass shower stall or even a tub. The whole bathroom instead just gets wet and the water is moped into one central drain on the bathroom floor. I’m so grateful for our bathroom glass shower stall.

All of these pictures are picture from the first day we saw our apartment, so of course, we have added our own personal touches to it at this point in time. We will add much more once we get our first paycheck at the end of the month!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Real Chinese Food

I'm sure many people are wondering about what I have been eating here in China. No, I haven’t had General Tso’s chicken, orange chicken, crab rangoons, or even fortune cookies. All of those are American Chinese food. So I wanted to introduce some Chinese culture and cuisine.

Street food 

Though I haven’t had any yet, it can be seen on many streets here in China. They can sell things like fruit, veggies, or even full meals like pork sandwiches. It shocks me sometimes as to what they can whip up on the street within five minutes. Some will be on carts like this one which is attached to a bike and others will be pulled by a donkey which I actually saw the other day


 This is one of my favorite dishes. The idea here is you have a boiling pot of water and spices in the middle, and you put whatever meat, noodles, and veggies into it, wait for it to cook, and then eat it with a peanut butter-like sauce. It is also common to have this with an extra-large Coca-Cola, but I am not quite sure why.

American Franchises

KFC, McDonalds, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Subway, and an occasional TGIF or Hooters can all be found in China. I haven’t had any of these yet either, but last time I had KFC, the meat seemed a little more real than in the United States. Of course, they adapt the menu to the taste of the Chinese so there is rice and pork on the menu. The nice part about having these here is that most of them deliver. Pizza Hut is also a fancier, sit down restaurant where you would take someone on a date, and they serve alcohol.

Traditional meals

The typical Chinese meal will consist of many dishes being shared in the middle of a circle table on a lazy Susan. Sometimes the meal seems to be never ending so make sure to pace yourself, but it allows every to try a little bit of everything. You will normally have your own small bowl of rice to eat towards the end to fill you up. At the end of the meal, Chinese will fight for the bill because one person wants to treat the rest of them. Dividing up a check here is not common to do, but we still find a way to divide it as equally as possible. I have added some pictures here of a chicken dish, some pumpkin buns, dumplings, an egg and tomato dish (which is one of my personal favorites), green beans, as well as a picture of the table with my wonderful co-teachers.

 IKEA food

With moving into a new apartment soon, we needed to get some things at IKEA so we decided to check out the food there. I don’t recall ever eating at an IKEA in the states, but I do know about the Swedish meatballs. We couldn’t say no to trying them, and I was rather happy with that choice. They were delicious, but the salmon lasagna on the other hand wasn’t as good. The cheese here just isn’t the same.

So after just a week of being here, the food is just as good as I remembered. I did not include any pictures of Chinese eggplant dishes (simply because I forgot to take pictures whenever I ordered it). With that being said, keep an eye out for more posts about food in the future.

I wanted to leave this one for last because I honestly have no idea what this guy was doing today. He had a turtle tied to a stick and just standing in the road. If anyone knew what his goal was or even had any guesses as to what he was doing, I would love to hear them.