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

FOMO

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


Hotpot 



 
 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.