Monday, July 28, 2014

School, a day trip, and food

Ni-hao, everyone! This week we've been busy teaching, exploring, and diving into this Asian lifestyle. Here are some pics!
Our School

Our first day - on the way to school
Clara, me, and Kelita

Ally (my roommate) and I

Our Kindergarten

A playground at the school

Lunch! (We always eat with chopsticks)

Soy sauce! (just for you, Brian)
Inside the school

The Guangzhou Zoo
On Saturday all 11 of us girls (the Shiqi & Changsha group) took a trip to our neighboring city, Guangzhou, to go to the zoo. It took two buses, a 30-minute train, and metro ride to get there! But we found our way.
Right after we entered the zoo, loud thunder cracked through the sky--making all of us jump a foot into the air! It was the loudest thunder I've ever heard! Then, in just a few seconds, it started down-pouring. Most of us had umbrellas, but we ran to cover under a tunnel. Lots of other Chinese people were taking cover there to. And during the two minutes we were standing there, 3 different Chinese kids squatted down and went pee. Right there on the sidewalk in front of everyone. That was a moment when I thought, "Yup! I'm really in China."
The zoo was beautiful

Lots of people!


 The pictures below are hilarious to me. It is a section of the zoo called "Goldfish Garden." It's pools of goldfish that you can either fish or literally jump in the ponds and try to catch. There were half-naked Chinese kids swimming and running around these goldfish-infested ponds, trying to catch their own pet to bring home. There was also dead fish all over the sidewalks. Mmm, so sanitary!
Let's strip and do this thang!

 Fishing for goldfish
Ally decided to try it!
My first squatter

My first camel ride 
After the zoo, we walked the streets of Guangzhou for a bit, then decided to eat dinner at a place called "Hong Kong Cuisine." My meal was 40 Yuan, or $7.


We think this was brain?
Another girl and I were courageous enough to eat it.
It was chewy and tasted like mushroom.

My dinner: Pasta with seafood

My first time eating Octopus
All in all, it was a good day--but it was exhausting! We left at 7am and got back after 11pm. It was nice for us to get out not only to become more oriented with the buses & trains, but also to have a break!
Today (Monday) we jumped right back into teaching, and I evaluated all of the girls. We also had our first Chinese language class after school. In class we went over different tones in the Chinese language. It's crazy!
As far as church goes, we've just been having our own meetings in our apartment. The commute to the ward here is a little out of the way, and we are still trying to figure out Church Skype. Hopefully things will be up and running with that soon!
That's all for now! Hope everyone is doing well.
Sending love from China,

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Life in China

The girls started teaching on the 21st, but the school had a little welcome "party" for us and the teachers only had 1 lesson, so our first full day of teaching was today. It had a mixture of 1/2 cup success and 1/2 cup craziness. That's the usual recipe for the First-Day. The teachers are excited to teach, the kids are adorable, but everyone is still figuring out where to go. A routine will definitely be established, it just takes time.

We've had chances to venture out in our neighborhood several times, which has been quite fun. But today some of our coordinators took us into the heart of the city. We took two buses to get there, and went to a place called "Walking Street", which is a little shopping district. There was also a forest area that we ventured around, with a tower that was apparently built 400 years ago. So we stopped and took some pictures there. :)

We are still getting used to the humidity. Every 5 minutes we have to wipe the moisture off our faces. And of course with a hot, humid climate comes bugs. We are trying to combat the mosquitos and whatever else is biting us, but they seem to be winning the battle so far.

I love the girls in my group. The five of us get along pretty darn good. There is also another group that is staying temporarily in our same apartment building for a few weeks (and teaching with us) until their school in Changsha is finished being built. So we've been hanging out with them as well.

Life here in China is totally different---yet people are people, and life is life. People around the world have different cultures, beliefs, and lifestyles; yet we all contain basic human nature, and function in the same way. As far as culture shock goes I feel like it either hasn't hit, or I adjust quite easily.

Chinese people are very friendly. We always have random strangers saying "hello!" as we pass by and we answer saying "Ni-Hao!"

Here are the latest pics I've taken...



 Common transportation in China




Just a normal day. 

Me on "Walking Street".

Our group on "Walking Street".


My group next to the pagoda.


Friday, July 18, 2014

My arrival in China!

Hello everyone! I'm alive. After around 16 hours in a plane, I was so glad to be on the ground and away from airports! But immediately after stepping off the plane, I could literally breathe in the humidity.
After arriving in Guangzhou, we had a two hour bus ride to our city (Zhongshan.) It was cool driving through China, but I was more excited to see our neighborhood. It is a beautiful gated area with sky-rise apartments. There are gardens and ponds running in between the buildings. Everything is green and our view is fabulous.

Once at our apartments, we talked with our coordinators, made plans for the next day, unpacked, and settled in. As the Head Teacher I held a short welcome meeting going over plans, rules, goals, and other such things. Since then we've been battling jet lag. The struggle is real.

Our apartment is quite nice. There are 3 bedrooms with 2 beds each, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, a small balcony, and a washing machine on the back porch. :) I can't say that we're going to be living in luxury for the next five months...that would be a lie. It's what you would expect an apartment for American volunteers would be like. And it will do just fine. The only problems I've encountered thus far are cockroaches (and no, they are not huge ones---at least not here anyway) and a sort of damp-like smell.

So far to eat I've had rice, dumplings, and noodles. Authentic Chinese food! It's awesome. I'm enjoying my time here thus far.

Here are some pics...

"nǐ hǎo!"

 Walking to our apartment

 A street in our neighborhood

A pavillion next to our apartment 

 Our apartment building.

 The school we teach at!

 Real, authentic Chinese food!

 From inside our apartment complex, the gate into our community.

 Me walking to our apartment!

The view on the way to our apartment. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014


I won't deny that I've procrastinated. But the time has finally come to pack. I am a lot less stressed and more laid-back compared to when I was preparing for Russia, I wonder if it's just because of experience?

I haven't done a lot of packing, but I have been busy. I've read thru my head teacher manual, been writing out and preparing documents, and fulfilling other responsibilities that I have as a head teacher. I also went to four days of training the last week of June, and that went good! I was able to meet some of the girls in my group, which was exciting.

Half of my group is coming early, and the other half will come in August. For us going early, we will be flying out of the U.S. on July 15, 2014, and arrive in Southern China on July 17, 2014. I am so lucky this time because my flight departs at 7pm, which is a big difference from the 6am flight I had last time!

On a side note, I'm sorry to say that there was a glitch on my blog and unfortunately all of my pictures from my Russia posts have been removed. It would take too much time to add them in again, so I will leave it be. But there will be plenty of pictures from my posts in China.

Talking about China, my next post will be when I'm there!

Talk to you all soon,