Monday, December 15, 2014

Farewell, China

Dear China,

It's been a good semester. More so than I could imagine. I love the fact that I arrived here in the summer's heat and am leaving with a jacket on. It means that I've spent a pretty big chunk of time here. Five months.

In that time I've traveled to places I've never heard of, and mispronounced all of their names. I've seen landscapes spilling over with jungle terrain, green mountains shooting out of the ground. I've been to big cities, with picturesque skylines, full of both new and old architecture. I have hiked along a cliff's edge, thousands of feet up, inhaling and exhaling the cold morning air. I've visited the Emperors' Forbidden city, Tiananmen Square, night markets, and walked on a wall that's just really Great. I've also bummed around on an island, swimming in the sea by day and eating street food by night. 

But this is not all. I've also ridden on bus 003. And sung at the top of my lungs at KTV. I've shopped around ghetto malls, and visited parks, and explored a couple pagodas. I've gone out to dinner with Chinese friends, and to Starbucks with my friends. I've been to markets where the real world is prevalent...chicken heads are being chopped off in front of you, and there's stands and stands of fruit to buy, and fish that are probably illegal are being sold to the left. I've also spent my time holding weekly meetings, evaluating classes, doing reports, talking with coordinators, and trying to fulfill my responsibilities the best I can. We would be at the school everyday from 7:40am-1:30pm. I've talked a bunch about our exciting trips and things we've seen, but I want people to know that a lot of work went on everyday at the school and for the kids. This trip hasn't been one big vacation! The girls worked hard to do lesson plans, to send in progress reports and students of the month, and to become good teachers. Halloween was a huge feat for us teaching dances, practicing dances, decorating, and setting up a haunted house. We've also had a couple "open days", where the parents are invited in to watch classes. 

I've gotten to know a culture that I never understood before. I had no idea what to expect coming to here. And it's hard to describe exactly what I've come to understand. Big things make up a country like the laws, and architecture, and traditions. But I find that small things that you see on the street play a huge factor in getting to know a culture. Your culture, China, will always have a little piece of my heart. I'm so grateful for the opportunity for me to come here, it has made me grow in more ways that one. I've learned so much!

Wo Ai Ni, Zhong Guo.
Love, Maegan

Here are some pictures from the semester. Some from our vacations, and some of just classic China. :)

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Munchkins

The day finally came when I realized that I had completely slacked off in taking pictures of the kids and, as my mom has pointed out to me before, sharing them on here! These pictures are from the past two days, which actually were our last days at the school. Hope you enjoy seeing these Chinese munchkins, the kids we came for, the ones we taught everyday from 9-12.

  Tara and Judy, Senior class

Shalee teaching PreK class

  Benson and Sam from PreK

 Jayden, Junior class

 Andre, Junior class

 Jack, Junior class 

 Lizzy, Junior class

 Coco and Candy, Intermediate class

Clara and I

 I feel the love, Allie.

 Taylor and I (plus a photo-bombing Shalee.) 
Taylor has been accepted to be a HT with ILP, and wants to go to Russia!

 Serena and I, one of my favorite coordinators and our Chinese teacher.

Thursday was just like any other day at school, but (our last day) was a different story. We didn't have classes, we had a farewell party and played with the kids. The girls (but not me) were emotional leaving their kids, and it was especially hard for them (but not me) when the kids started crying! It was also hard for them (but not me) saying goodbye to some of our coordinators, and knowing we probably won't ever see them again! We do have the chance to go back to visit the school, but I'm tossing the idea around because we'll have to say goodbyes all over again!  Also, someone (who won't be named) is particularly getting depressed that her roommate (who has blonde hair and name starts with A) is leaving early... actually, at 8AM.   She'll miss her. This person also doesn't know what she'll do on the bus to Guangzhou (it's gonna be one heck of a cry fest), because China is awesome and she loves China and she's gonna miss the Pear juice she buys at the Kaiyin market.

Okay, I'll admit it, this person is me. But thus is life, moving on into new chapters. I'm beyond excited to get home. Who knows where life will take me. The ride has been a great one so far, I've seen some pretty darn amazing things. I do know that I'll be heading to Alabama for 18 months, serving the people there on an LDS mission. After that, who knows? But I'd like to thank everyone who has given me support. You guys have followed me through Russia, China, and continue to support me in my endeavors. So thank you!!

I'll do another post soon!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Let's go to the beach!

Sanya! That's where we went last week. It's located in the island of Hainan, which rests itself at the southern point of China and is neighbors with Thailand. Our hostel was nestled at Haitang Bay, which is an area away from the city center. We were able to get a real Chinese feel there, since it is not touristy in the least bit. And by that I mean there are no Western restaurants in sight! For dinner we feasted on street food, which consists of veggies and meat on sticks that get roasted right there in front of you. But being away from the city center also meant having a nearly empty beach to lounge on and play in every day. 

Our time in Hainan revolved around the beach. We got lots of sun, chased crabs, went jet-skiing, dove in the waves, and played in the sand. Our hostel's patio was really nice, we were able to relax in the low-lit area and listen to the waves crash on the shore. But the hostel itself wasn't very nice, probably the worst hostel I've stayed at amenity-wise! Oh well. 

So we stayed at Haitang Bay, a secluded area with lots of crabs and seashells. There's a big rock we swam out to, and I cut myself up a little with all the shells and coral that covered the rock! But it was really fun to jump off of. We also ventured to another bay, called Yalong Bay. This was a public beach that was covered in umbrellas, and they had jet-skis to rent so of course that's the first thing we did! It was 150RMB, and that gave us a ride up and down the bay and Chinese guys who came with each of us to make sure we didn't kill ourselves, and that we came back in a timely manner. It was really fun to go fast, and I think we may have scared those guys just bit. :) At this beach we also took advantage of the big waves, and were diving in them and swimming for a while. It was really fun to swim around with Chinese people, and I think they're amused to see us swim too. But, in that aspect, nothing will beat the other public beach we went to...we were all lounging there when a Chinese Muslim woman came up with a motorcycle clad in pearls and jewelry. The girls started to look at the jewelry, and apparently that's pretty darn fascinating because before we knew it we had drawn a crowd of Chinese people. They just stand there and watch us, maybe pass a few comments between each other. It was quite amusing for me to lay there and watch the scene. Typical China!

Our vacation was really fun, but it was great to get back home and wash all that sand off (sometimes sand can be a pain, don't you agree?) Like usual we jumped right into teaching the next day. We only have seven teaching days left. Also! I forgot to mention that last week we went bike riding around a reservoir. It is a beautiful area with a really nice trail and bikes to rent for only 10RMB, which is less than $2. It's also really close to our school, and I wondered why we never got over there sooner! 

Ta ta for now,

Monday, December 1, 2014

Xian and Beijing

Pronounced, "See-on" and "Bay-jing." Let's get that straight first. I've come to realize that before I was otherwise informed, I pronounced almost entirely all of the Chinese cities wrong. For example, "Shanghai" is really pronounced "Shong-hi." Anyway! Let's get to the post. For our last vacation we went to Xian and Beijing. We traveled to Northern China in November and it was cold, but it definitely was manageable. Such a nice break from tropic Zhongshan.

We flew to Xian first, and spent a day seeing the Terracotta Warriors, and biking on the ancient city wall. I loved going to the warriors. It was amazing! Then we took an 11 hour overnight train ride to Beijing. Our first day in Beijing consisted of going to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. We also went to an antique street market, and a souvenir market. The next day we booked a tour. The first part of the tour took us to a jade factory (jade is really popular here), we had a nice lunch. Then we drove for a bit to the "Badaling" section of the Great Wall of China. We rode up in cable cars and were dropped off right at the wall. It was so cool. I was thinking, "Wow, I'm really here. I've made it to the wall." 

The wall is definitely beautiful to look at it, but don't be deceived. It will kick your butt. It is so steep! But because of that, it is a really fun thing to slide down on the railing. Quite amusing. :-) After the wall, our tour took us to the Ming Tombs. It was a quiet place, and it's crazy how far China's history goes. That night we went to a night market, where I ate fried Scorpion and Starfish. But those weren't the worst things available, trust me. The next day we went to the National Museum of China. It was free to get in, which was a pleasant surprise. They had artifacts dating back 200+ years BC! We spent as much time there as we could, but there was so much to see that we barely made a dent. And that concluded our vacation. We hopped back on a plane and flew home. 

Since then we've gotten back to teaching. Things are going well. Our schedule can be a stress sometimes. There's a lot of classes, and other foreign teachers at our school, that all need to fit and flow, so the schedule changes ever so often. Lately I've been working on organizing our supply cabinets at school, I'm sort of a neat freak sometimes. But that's okay, because when everything is put away in the right spot, it can make lesson planning go smoother for the girls!

We can't believe that our time in China is almost up. I'm coming home in two weeks! For a while I was feeling really sad about leaving China, but now I'm feeling more ready. But that doesn't mean we aren't making the most of the time we have left! Recently, I went to a park called the "Zimaling" park. It is a huge park with lots to do. Us girls messed around, had fun, explored a pagoda, and called it a day. Another time, I hopped onto a bus in the city and enjoyed hot chocolate at Starbucks (very cultural, I know.) A few days ago we were taken out to dinner by our Chinese friend, Allen. We ate traditional vegetarian Chinese food, and toured a Buddhist temple. 

Below are some pictures from our vacation to Xian and Beijing!  
Talk to you soon,


Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Hey everyone! I know I haven't posted in a while. This is partly due to me being busy, and also the VPN on my laptop isn't working so it makes it difficult to get pictures on my blog! But I'm alive, don't worry! We just returned last night from our trip to Xian and Beijing. Seeing the Terrecatta Warriors and visiting the Great Wall were the highlights of the trip, but there's lots of other cool things we experienced! I will post a blog about it soon :)

Statistics. I realized recently that I've done a decent amount of traveling around China this past semester! There is more to come, but just for fun I'm making these lists to see what I've done so far.



I've been on several sleeper trains, a sleeper bus, regular buses, taxis, and tuk tuks. I've stayed in five different hostels, and one hotel. I've been to the North, East, South, and middle of China. Pretty crazy!

I love traveling. There's such a sense of excitement. Things just take my breath away. Seeing the Terrecatta Warriors in person. Taking a cable car and landing on the Great Wall (when we got there I couldn't tell if the cold air was agitating my eyes or if I was really tearing up;) I'm so blessed to have had this opportunity to come to China. I'm also so glad I could travel around so much within China! I feel like I've gotten to know the culture well. I also feel confident in traveling. I know how it works, and how to get around. Railways and airports are a breeze, even when almost no one around you speaks English. Getting from Point A to Point B isn't difficult. Sometimes it's stressful, or sometimes you get lost, but eventually things work out! You really have to go with the flow and keep an open mind. Flexibility is key. And a positive attitude works wonders, even when you're lost in Yangshuo at 3am! :)

Anyway, that's all for now folks! I love you all, and I'll see you soon. I come home in less than a month!


Thursday, November 6, 2014


Creative (when designing our haunted house)
Energetic (our dance was a hit)
Pleasantly surprised (the safari park in Guangzhou was amazing)
Interested (conversations with strangers at the railway)
Motivated (I can be a clean freak, sometimes)
Grateful (our coordinators are awesome)
Sad and happy (I don't want to leave China)
Disgusted (unidentifiable food, yuck)

Amazing, isn't it, how many emotions you can feel within a week's time?

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Halloween is a big deal here! Well, at least at our school. For the past month we have been planning and preparing for Halloween. Every class has two songs or dances to perform, the entire school is decked out with spooky decorations (some of which we made), we will have a haunted house, and us teachers have a dance to perform.

Two of the girls put our dance together and we've been practicing as much as we can. Our dance is way fun, and we decided to all dress up like creepy dolls for it! Last night was our big debut as we performed at the Bo Ju school, a new ILP school that is starting up next semester. We also participated in the program they had there and helped with games.

This Friday we will have the big Halloween party at our school, Bond Kindergarten. That is when all of our kids will do their skits and we'll do our dance, everyone will be dressed up, and there will be trick-or-treating and a haunted house. I'm serious when I say they go all out for Halloween!

As October is coming to a close, I'm more and more shocked at how fast time has gone; and I'm realizing how little time we have left. Let's look at the facts:

- I arrived in July. It's now the end of October.

- We only have one more full month of teaching (that's crazy!)

- November will go by super fast because we have two different vacations.

- Our time in December will consist of two weeks of teaching, and then preparing to go home.

What happened to this semester?! I'm NOT ready to leave China! And yet, at the same time, I am so excited to go home. My family, my boyfriend, Mexican food, Christmas, and new adventures await me. :)

"New adventures?" One might ask. "What do you mean by that?" For those who haven't heard, I got my mission call to the Birmingham, Alabama mission! I will leave February 18, 2015. :) I know this is the right direction for me to take in life right now, and I am very excited! So yes, next year I will head on over to the South for 18 months. But no matter where I go, China will always have a piece of my heart.

A group picture at the Bo Ju school party

October Shiqi family photo

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Culturally wacky

Ni Hao! For this post I decided I wanted to share the culturally wacky things I've come across here. Not that these things are necessarily bad, they are just different from life as we know it in good ole 'murica.

So here's my list.

1. Some women dress normal, some really fashionable, but the majority of the women dress really young. And when I say young, I mean I could picture a 15 year old girl wearing the same outfit. It's normal to see a mom of one of our students in a mini skirt and heels. Also! Platform shoes. It's a huge trend here in Asia.

2. For meals we eat rice, veggies, and meat. And as far as the meat goes, sometimes this means large chunks of pure fat. Yum.

3. When I go out to eat it's not very difficult to decide what to get, as my options are between rice and noodles.

4. People have really bad aim getting their trash into a garbage bin.

5. Employees at clothing stores will stand at the doorway and clap their hands to get your attention and thus possibly attract new customers.

6. Motorbikes and motorcycles are huge here. And it's not a rare thing to see a family piled onto one riding down the street. And by that I mean dad is driving and mom is seated right behind with the baby in her arms.

7. Kids are in school all day and even on the weekends.

8. You all are probably aware that squatter potties exist. But I don't know if you are aware of the complete and utter disgust one feels as they enter a public bathroom China. I will never again, in the my whole lifetime, complain about a dirty bathroom at a gas station in America.

9. Lots of people own motorbikes, lots take public transportation, and a majority own cars. But if you do own a car---lemme tell ya---it's a nice car.

10. Employees at stores almost always have matching uniforms, shoes, and hair styles.

11. Yes---you can get pizza here (thank heavens!) But did you know that when you order a pizza, you will also be given plastic gloves? They completely disregard the joy of stuffing ones face with their own bare hands.

12. Pale skin is da best. In China the women do whatever they can to stay out of the sun's rays. This means using umbrellas, hats, and these arm covers (or sleeves.) And not to mention, their beauty/skin products have "whitening" effects!

13. If you have one child, that's okay. If you have another one, you have to pay extra taxes. You can sometimes gauge the financial status of a family depending on the number of kids they have.

14. Bargaining is key when wanting to purchase souvenirs and the like! But be prepared. If you go up to a stand of clothes or souvenirs you can't just casually go look, or ask what the price is. If you act in the least bit interested, you are the seller's next target and they will literally chase you down the street, offer lower prices, and just about beg you until you cave in to buy something.

15. Hot water is drunk more than cold.

16. KTV (karaoke businesses) are everywhere! No matter where you go you'll find a KTV. You rent out your own private room and everything is all lit up and cool looking, and you sing to your hearts content!

I feel like there's so much more that I could share, small things that just go on in everyday life. And then there's big things, like kids going to the bathroom right there on the sidewalk. Definitely a cultural difference! And what's funny is that these things become normal for us. Living in a foreign country is an adventure. You have to keep an open mind and find humor in the wackiness.  :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

This is what makes you feel alive

It's the bustling craziness of West Street, with lights and lasers gleaming in the haze. And it's the air you catch as your speeding down a rapid, fear and thrill battling inside of you, as a wave of water crashes over your face. This is what makes you feel alive.

It's riding a bike through gorgeous countryside, mountains popping up from the tropical expanse. And it's the quiet time on the train, where you feel distant from every familiarity you know. This is what makes you feel alive.

It's the view of the tremendously magnificent mountains, when you make your way up in the cable car. And it's the crisp and deliciously cold air that fills your lungs, as you lean against the rail on the side of a cliff. This what makes you feel alive.

It's the ache of your muscles, as you climb too many stairs. And it's the shocking view of the landscape below, landscape in which you wonder how it could ever exist. These are the things that make you feel alive. They strike at that moment and take your breath away, losing sense of reality, leaving you to be absorbed into the scene before you. What a beautiful thing.

 Zhangjiajie - Tianmen mountains

Zhangjiajie - Tianzi mountains