Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Ride In

I made it to the hotel and through a whole day! Training has been pretty laid back thus far, but still beneficial and entertaining. It’s so great meeting people from all over the world ready to take on China.  As for school placement, I found out that I am a brand new school on the Southeast side of Beijing. I only know the metro line that is closest to it, no clue what the address is. I am still having issues with getting data on my phone but hopefully I should have it figured out by tomorrow! Thank god I am not the only one going through these troubles – everyone who brought an unlocked smart phone is in the same boat.

 I wrote the rest of this post on the flight, so let’s time travel a little in the past just for the fun of it.

Currently, I’m on this huge 777 plane waiting our arrival into Beijing. I think there’s about 4 hours left, hopefully! I had the hardest time sleeping over noisy Chinese people speaking in front of me for about two hours – they never told me about this perk of getting an exit row seat! Yes, the leg room is nice and you get to help people during an emergency, but you also deal with people thinking it is okay to hover in your area, talking and opening the window almost blinding you. Besides that, the food has been edible, nothing spectacular.  I wouldn’t recommend any of their recipes.

I got my training schedule yesterday, I could possibly find an apartment to call my own this weekend. That’s really when it all set in. I am going to be living in China for a year – a whole year. My first full-time job. I am more than ready to see what I can do to be the best teacher to these kids. And of course, explore this vast land they call China.

After being on this plane, differences between American and Chinese way of life already popped up since I would say 75% of this flight is Chinese. Here are a few of the highlights:

·         Wrong Room!- I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many Chinese people tried going into the workers’ break room – basically their closet – instead of the bathroom. Not sure if it was because they couldn’t read, or if they haven’t flown much before. Nonetheless, it was rather entertaining, if I do say so myself.

·         The shoving, oh the shoving Personal bubbles and urgency to get places are different between cultures. Chinese will do whatever to get by whereas Americans will wait around and say “Excuse me”, expecting the other person to move.

·         Love for rice – This one is a little more stereotypical, but for the first meal, we had three options, one of them being a beef and rice dish. Of course, they run out of it before they get to the lovely and spacious (if only!) back part of the plane where I am residing. Good thing that wasn’t what I wanted to eat.

·         Language expectation – I understand that English is becoming the lingua franca for basically the whole world; however, this plane is going to China. There are only 3 flight attendants out of 9 on board who can speak Chinese, all of which look Chinese. It just reminds me of how Americans oftentimes are naïve to how big and diverse the world truly is.
I’m sure there are more differences. I would love to know if you have noticed any yourself, or if you are curious about any of the ones that I have mentioned. It’s time for me to go explore Beijing.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Here we go again

After graduating from Marietta College, I am now on my way back to the mainland. Mainland China, that is. However, this time it won't be in Shanghai, instead I will be exploring the capital city - Beijing!

I leave on Tuesday afternoon after having an amazing summer of what seemed like vacation after vacation, well because it was. At first, I had my normal summer of laying on the couch and watching Netflix, but once June came around, I went to Minnesota, Chicago, Pittsburgh (several times), Columbus, and even Disney World. I couldn't have asked for a better summer.

But now, I start a new chapter in my life by having my first FULL-TIME job. I will be teaching English for EF English First somewhere in the Chaoyang District in Beijing (the East side). I'm so excited for this and cannot believe it is so close to happening!

I will be posting to this blog hopefully every week to update you all on my journey on the other side of the world! Feel free to let me know if you have questions or want to hear about something in particular about life in China.

It's gonna be difficult saying goodbye to my family, friends and puppies for a whole year, but at least I will have cute pictures of them like this one.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

BuzzFeed

I just figured I would let you guys see my first BuzzFeed article since it directly relates to studying abroad! Here's the link:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/kate13a2003/8-reasons-why-im-glad-i-studied-abroad-in-shangha-gsrd

Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It's the little things that count

As the semester wraps up, I still have two Chinese tests and a little homework, one Economics presentation and paper, and one Finance presentation and paper until I have completed my Spring semester of my junior year. It’s crazy to think about, but in reality, it has been a long semester. All of my friends in the states have already been out of school for a few weeks now, but because we didn’t start classes until a month after them and we had two full weeks of vacation, we’ve had to make the semester longer than normal. There are some people heading back next week for internships, but for me, I wanted to stay. (And now my sister is even coming-you guys have no idea how excited I am for that!) 

Today, on my way to internship, I was walking between metro lines and noticed the escalators were both closed. This is common occurrence and I’m not sure why it happens so often, anyways, we all had to take the stairs. I noticed an older lady is holding up people because she has a bag that she is incapable of lifting down three flights of stairs (she has a rolling one that she’s ever so slowly having fall down each individual stair). I go up to her and politely tell her in Chinese that I can help her and she tells me, “Oh thank you young lady!” She still holds onto the bag as I lift it down. When we get to the bottom, she goes back to rolling it and says some Chinese which I’m not sure what it meant, but I carry on knowing that this lady was extremely grateful. It’s not like I was the only one around that could help, I was the only one who made the effort to help. As I continue towards the metro, a Chinese man looks at me and gives me the thumbs up. Today, just made me realize that despite the whole difference in language and culture, you can still impact people’s lives for the better, even if they are just small acts of kindness.

Since it’s been blowing up on Facebook and since he is from Minnesota, I wanted to write a little about Zach Sobiech. (at this point in time, if you haven’t watched the 20 minute video on him, go do that!) I watched his video this morning and found out about his death on May 20, 2013 which just happens to be the Chinese “I love you” Day because the pronunciation of 5.20 (wu er ling) sounds similar to 我爱你 (wo ai ni) which means I love you. I found this to be incredibly ironic, and it makes his story that much more meaningful (although it is already such an emotional story). It makes me realize how precious life is so go out there and start making the legacy that you want to leave behind. “You don’t have to find out you are dying to start living.” –Zach Sobiech

Monday, May 20, 2013

The end is near

Though the title contains a negative connotation, I am having mixed feelings about leaving. Of course, I want to go home, but this place has left so much of an impact on me. Personally, I still have exactly a month left here, whereas other people only have a week or two (one girl has left already!) I have enjoyed my experience here more than I would have ever expected and now have a different view of life. Not only do I want to travel more in China, I want to see the whole world.

Shanghai has so much uniqueness to it. It still shocks me how accustomed I have grown to be to the variety of architecture everywhere I look as well as being a white person in a country where everyone is Asian. The traditional Chinese pagodas mixed with European influenced buildings is so perfectly blended and allows for each one to shine through. In regards to being a minority, I don't think I will ever like being stared at how much I do here, but I think I would be able to get used to it if I lived here longer. 

I've been lucky enough to have found an ultimate frisbee league that plays every Monday night here in Shanghai. It's a great mix of people who all enjoy ultimate just as much as I do. They have taught me so much thus far and have even invited me to play in the Shanghai tournament June 1st weekend. I am so happy I have this opportunity and hope that the sport of ultimate frisbee continues to spread all over the world. 

My sister always asked me where I wanted to be buried just so that if something would happen, they would know what I would want, but I don't even know what I would want. I found out that in China, they bury their ancestors on mountains because there is a holiday that is called Tomb Sweeping Day (清明节) where they go home and go clean their ancestors graves off. After hearing about this day, I realized I had not seen a cemetery this whole time in China. I think it would be neat to be buried on a side of a mountain because then my family could climb the mountain to visit me while enjoying the beautiful scenery. Which mountain...I'm not sure yet. What do you guys think?!

With that being said, I hope you guys take some time to watch this video. I find it to be very inspirational and definitely worth your time! http://www.ted.com/talks/david_foster_wallace_this_is_water.html

Places I want to go (maybe since finals are coming up!):



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Malaysia and Singapore!

Here’s a rundown of what happened. My friend Sally and I took a red eye to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia & arrived at the hostel around 9 am. We signed up for a tour through our hostel which started at 10:30 am, giving us enough time to go eat breakfast and explore a little bit. Once on the tour, our tour guide ended up being rather interesting both in a serious but not serious manner. He informed us about his knowledge of lady boys in addition to his opinion on the election which has created a lot of uprising since the former prime minister got re-elected for the 56th year in a row. Anyways, in regards to the actual tour, we went to seven places:  The National Mosque where we had to wear a robe and hijab to cover ourselves according to Islam standards, Sri Mahamariamman Temple where we could hold turtles, Little India where I bought some fresh pineapple, Batu Caves where there were monkeys & ate Indian food for lunch, The King’s Palace where the newly-elected prime minister showed up, The National Monument where we saw a beautiful statue, as well as a traditional Malay village where we ate stingray. We were struggling to stay awake after taking a red eye so we went back and took a rest. Once we woke up, it was raining (it did this everyday around the same time) so we did not want to go anywhere to find food. Luckily, our hostel has a restaurant on the first floor so we had pizza there. We met bonded with some British friends that night and called it a night so we could get an early start the next day.

The next day, we got up fairly early, got breakfast at our hostel (PB&J!), started exploring by ourselves. First, we went to Central Market and then China Town, both of which were right by our hostel. After that, we just wandered and got lost a bit. Eventually, we found a place that served cendal so we decided to stop and try it. It definitely grew on us as we ate it and ended up being a nice refreshing afternoon treat. Then, we made our way to the Petronas Twin Towers. After exploring the inside, buying our souvenirs and eating Auntie Annie’s pretzels, we went outside where there was this fountain as well as a pool that you can swim in. Of course, we had to go in it for a bit, but then we just chilled by the side and watched the little kids enjoy their time there. We returned to our hostel for a quick afternoon nap and then headed out again, but this time we got caught in the rain and had to make a quick decision to escape the rain by grabbing some dinner as well as white coffee! The rain did not stop once we were finished so we decided to just trek back through it and shower once we got there. That night, we ended up having a chill night by watching a movie and then enjoying each other’s company at the hostel. I was shocked by how many people I met this trip who were backpacking Southeast Asia, only to find out from some foreign friends here in Shanghai that it is typical for their countrymen take a “gap year” between school and work.

Overall, Kuala Lumpur was an amazing experience, and the city definitely was not what I was expecting. Despite the rain and there being rats in the street at night, I loved the environment of Malaysia. It seemed to be a very harmonious place even with the diverse group of people. Also, I could not have asked for a better hostel. I highly recommend staying at Reggae Mansion if you are ever in KL.

We made our way to the bus station the next day in order to go to Singapore. Just in the nick of time, we were able to catch the bus right as we arrived so we got to Singapore around 5 pm. Singapore’s customs were a little intimidating, but they are known for all of their strict rules so it was understandable. So once we made it, we booked our ticket to go to Melaka and headed over to our hostel. From there we went to exchange money and find some food to eat. We ran into a Malay restaurant and decided to try it, which ended up being delicious in my opinion. After that, we explored the downtown, harbor area and took some night shots before going to sleep.

The next day, we went over to Sentosa Island which in my opinion is a huge tourist trap, but it had beaches so I wanted to go check it out. We found the Universal Studios as well as Chili’s so we decided to go and get dinner there. I think it would have been neat to see the world’s largest aquarium, but besides that, I wasn’t too fond of the rest of it. I did get to go to the southernmost point of continental Asia though (there even was a Chinese movie being filmed on the bridge to the little island!) That night, we checked out Chinatown as well as Clarke Quay, and of course, we had to get a Singapore Sling! Singapore was a wonderful yet strict city. It was definitely much more westernized than I would have imagined.

Early in the morning, we took a bus to go to Melaka, a very historical city in Malaysia. Once we got there, we spotted a Tutti frutti and decided to get some ice cream because it was very hot, and we also had to figure out how to get to our hostel. On the way to our hostel, we were able to spot the Christ Church of Melaka, took some pictures really quick and then continued our trek out. Our building was one of the many that had paintings on the entire back of them which faced the river. We had to figure out how to get to the airport so after a short rest at the hostel, we decided to go back to the bus station and find a place to buy our tickets for the next day. Tickets were easy to book although there was only one company that offered buses. We were right in town then, so we decided to check out the Melacca Strait Mosque, which appears to be floating. We started walking there, but since it appeared to be so far away, we switched to a taxi which ended up being a very smart choice on our part. Not only would we have been exhausted if we walked all the way there, but our taxi driver was incredibly friendly and even took us to Little India to get Indian food yet again! That meal was plentiful and made us extremely full so we went back to our hostel again and took a little rest before exploring more that night. We walked along the river and then went to Jonker Street which is right next to our hostel. Here we bought many pairs of earrings, but they were so cheap, we couldn’t say no! Then we rested by the side of the river and watched river cruises go by, one by one and reflected on our travels.

The next day, we were able to sleep in a bit and then went and got white coffee and peanut butter toast for breakfast at Old Town White Coffee and then took the bus to the airport. The rest of the day was spent traveling. After arriving in Shanghai, I had a feeling of being home not only because we were driving on the right side of the road, but also because I could communicate with the taxi driver in a language that I’ve been focusing on so much these last few years.











Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Various things I’ve noticed about Shanghai and even China in general:

• I do not think Shanghai has squirrels at all – only stray cats and dogs.
• Chinese police will routinely stop drivers at early hours in the morning to check for drunk drivers.
• Shanghai is extremely international – I’ve met people from allll over the world: Australia, Germany, Israel, Korea, France, Morocco, Burundi, Zambia, Singapore, England, Canada, I think you get the point.
• No matter when I get on the metro, I will always be stared at by someone. It has been interesting experiencing life as a minority for once.
• T^T is a smilie that Chinese will use to show that they are crying or upset.
• It is possible to eat dog here – especially in Guangdong providence.
• For the most part, food is ridiculously cheap & so is pretty much everything else besides rent or cars.
• Most restaurants have pictures of the food on their menus which makes it easier to order if you cannot read the characters.
• People openly talk about their bodily issues and don’t typically just say “I have to go to the restroom”.
• They also make more sound effects than I am used to, not only in basic conversations like “oh” and “mmm”, but will “hock/hawk a loogie” or even snot rocket in public quite often. They view it as things that should not be in your system so you might as well get it out when you have it right then.
• Starbucks, KFC, McDonalds, Subway, Carl’s Jr., Pizza Hut, Haggen-Das, Coldstone, and many other Western restaurants all exist here.
• You may see signs that say Merry Christmas up all year. Most Chinese know that it is a Western holiday but do not realize that you only display these things during that season.
• The sense of personal space is much smaller here & people often times push or run into you and do not even stop to say sorry
• The ultimate frisbee league that I started playing on here in Shanghai is so much fun and I am learning an incredible amount. They have many tournaments and I hope to participate in one!