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