Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Honeymoon

I decided it was time to put some stuff about our honeymoon up. 

We went on a cruse to Mexico, stopping at Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. It was AMAZING! Also it was my first time going on a cruse and basically was just the perfect honeymoon. 

My favorite thing we did was probably the zip-lines we did it Vallarta. SO cool! I've also never been to Mexico, so that was also pretty fun. Mark and I took it upon ourselves to talk in a Mexi-accent pretty much the whole week. That was pretty fun too.

I got really sunburned, but I think most of it turned into an alright tan, so it was worth it ;)

On a complete side-note: I recently realized that the only shirts I wear are solid v-neck shirts or solid tank tops with either a white or grey cardigan. Not sure how that happened.

Please notice Mark's face in the last picture--priceless!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Why I'm actually not failing at life

So, remember how I was un-employed?

Still unemployed, but with more hope.

I decided to advertise myself on Craigslist as a tutor. It scares me a little that I might not know everything I should, but then I just have to remind myself of all the experiences I've had that should assure otherwise. I just don't think I could handle like a sixteen or seventeen year old that was already super smart. But, so far I've been getting e-mails for thirteen and fourteen years old, so, I'm excited about that. Just keep me in your prayers that this or SOMETHING will work out!

Also the internet is still not installed at our house and I'm starting to lose hope of having it at all this semester.

Also on Tuesday I tried to make this SUPER easy salsa chicken in our new and wonderful crock-pot and I burned salsa all on the sides. A good day and two night's soak made it easier to clean, though it was still a pain trying to get it all off. I don't even know that it's that clean still, but we'll have to wait until next time we use it and see if little black specks accompany our next meal.

Also today I let myself turn the TV on and got stuck watching Criminal Minds (Note: I'll admit it--I'm a stupid sucker for murder investigation TV shows), and I didn't get the floor swept or the bed made. The dishes got clean during commercial breaks though! As did a pile of Mark's old shoes.

So basically what I'm trying to say is sometimes lately I feel like I'm failing at life.

But, then I remind myself that's not even possible. I mean, maybe if I was some kind of murderer that wasn't insane, or even some kind of purposefully mean person without a cause besides selfishness...maybe then I would be failing at life. But, seeing as I'm not either one of those, I must be doing alright.

If there's something I have to be reminded of again and again, it's that life is for learning and then doing. Not always the other way around.

That's kind of my deep thought of the week--just be patient and keep trying. Do better than you did yesterday, but don't expect to be a different person overnight.

So I can't cook! So I hate house-wifey things like cooking and cleaning. So sometimes I like to watch cheesy murder-mystery TV shows as a way of procrastinating  the closest thing to work that I have right now. So I'm unemployed and haven't been able to find a job these last three weeks. I'm still a generally good person! And, I know all those things are really small. Especially in comparison to the great things that have happened these past two weeks.

For one, I have a wonderful Visiting Teaching Companion who is as inspiring as she is sweet! She's from Brazil and I've only been with her now on a few visits, but I adore her! And her cute little girl. Visiting Teaching has been a marvelous uplift to my last couple weeks and I'm sure it will continue to be so in the coming months.  Feeling that extra spirit of love with wonderful women from the church is irreplaceable. When I share my feelings about God and his plan for us, I can feel the spirit whispering in my heart that all I'm saying--all I believe--is true. And, if all I believe is true, then God loves me too much to let me "fail at life" without my prior consent. He's totally got my back.

Also, Mark and I went to the temple yesterday! I loved it and was reminded that strength comes from prayer. I was also reminded that so many little things I stress out about just aren't that important. What's important is my relationship with God and my cute hubby and family.

And lastly, I've been reading the new Relief Society book "Daughters of a Kingdom" and have loved it so much. There's so much in there, I might just write a post about it soon! Yeah, that good!

So, in end to the scatterdness of this post I'll have to say that I will probably end up having weeks of more unemployment, plenty of other completely disastrous attempted cooking adventures, days where I don't feel like folding all my clothes even though I have nothing else to do, and no internet for the rest of the semester.

Yeah, that panda's got it aaaaall figured out
The good thing about all that is none of it even matters. Life is about finding ourselves and using those found talents and characteristics to help others discover what life is about. So honestly, cooking and cleaning might be on the back-burner of my lists of things to do until I figure all that purpose-of-life stuff out first. Just hoping I have my priorities all right.... ;)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Neglection, Rejection, Redemption

[Note: 'Neglection' makes so much more sense than 'neglectfulness' and therefore I'm using it instead...not to mention it sounds prettier]


In my first post, I wrote that this blog was going to be like a journal to write down all of my China experiences and remember them forever. Well, that didn't happen. Mostly I think because I hated my blog background and set-up and the idea of writing into virtual "unknowness" [Note: yes, that also should be a word]. Hence my desire to remove it from my thoughts, despite my previous determination. And, even if I desired to change those things which I hated, I couldn't. China blocks blogger from the internet, and all the proxies I used weren't fast enough to change any of the lay-outs or backgrounds. Also, I was writing quite a few e-mails and skyping a lot and thus felt like I was re-telling the things I had already told to family and friends who read the blog. So, my blog stayed ugly, disorganized, pointless, and... neglected for months.


But, I've been home from China since the beginning of August and this is my first post since July.

By the time August came around--it was too late. Even though I knew I should just make a few quick changes to my blog and write something--if anything just for myself and memories' sake--I couldn't. I felt complete disdain for my own blog and rejected it--almost thought of deleting it altogether and giving up. It was just too ugly [Note: yes, the words you're trying to avoid saying in your head are true--I was embarrassed--even ashamed of my blog].

But, for some reason (probably because I was too busy planning my wedding in one month to even think about blogs), I left it---left it completely alone to it's pitiful self and hardly thought of it.


Then, it happened.


Mark and I got married [Note: blog-post on the wedding and everything is to be expected in the hopefully not so distant future--for now I'll just tell you that it was PERFECT in every possible way] and came to Hawaii after our honeymoon [Note: blog-post on the honeymoon can also be expected in the hopefully not so distant future..... and yes, that was also absolutely PERFECT in every possible way]. Because I've already graduated but Mark (who also happens to be PERFECT in every possible way) is in school (he has a year/year and a half left), there are a lot of times I have nothing to do [Note: I'm aware of the over-use of parentheses/side notes, but I'm keeping them anyway). I've been job-searching and turning in resumes but you can only do that for so many hours a day.......

Alright, I can only do that for so many hours a day! It's excruciating and I just really need to get a job soon.

At any rate, during one of these hours of boredom I thought about my poor neglected, and very much rejected, blog. This time instead of anger and frustration, sympathy came over me as I thought about the poor thing with so much potential. That's when I decided to act and save the thing that I could probably take so much enjoyment in.

I still don't think my blog is just how I want it to be.... I mean, it's not gorgeous... but, it's no longer ugly. As for it being pointless.... well, maybe I'll still have times where I feel like that, but mostly I think it will be fun. The re-vamped blog has things that I will want to write about. This time the blog will just be fun for me. Because (if you couldn't tell by my consistently ridiculously long and overly-worded posts) I enjoy writing--even if just for myself.

And there you have it.... more to come on everything later.... most likely when Mark and I finally get internet and I don't have to come to campus every time I want to blog something.

[Note: all the images in this post were not found on the web--but are pictures of my awesome students from China... I love and miss them].

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lots o' cheeeeeeese

It's funny how life turns out sometimes. Funny, but perfect.

It's been a while (again), and there's so much I could tell. I suppose I'll go with the cliché thing, though, and write about how this big (and beautiful) ol' rock ended up on my finger. Or, in other words, the greatest turning point of my life yet.

Mark and I have been friends for two and a half years, best friends for eleven months, lovers for about ten months, and engaged for one month. I would have NEVER guessed anything would come from our friendship when it first started, but I find it indescribable how grateful I am that something—a really big something—has.

Mark officially proposed here in China—Shanghai, China to be exact. He was accepted to do an internship there the first week of June—coincidently (but really, I don't know how it happened) the same weekend as my June break/holiday where all of us teachers got Saturday, Sunday, and Monday off. A few teachers were already planning a trip to Shanghai, so I of course just tagged along so I could basically ditch them for Mark when we got there. There's a place called the bund where you can see a beautiful skyline made up of the financial district of Shanghai over this lake. Off the bund pretty close is a little Chinese-style garden where Mark knelt down to give me the ring. I didn't give him the right ring-size, so currently I have to wear the ring on my middle finger. Oh well! It's beautiful anyway, and he did a good job for picking it out without me. The diamond is from my uncle and it's absolutely gorgeous, though I must admit a little embarrassingly (for me whose not a show-y person at all) big. But, I feel so lucky to have it—SO lucky. It's from Mark but also from my family so all the love behind it is so special to me.

Now I'm in Changzhou, China until August tutoring (not directly with ILP) a few kids every day. I get to see Mark on weekends which makes the weeks long, but hopefully will make the month shorter. We are due to get married September 2nd in Utah and with every day the date gets closer and I feel my love for him grows bigger! Sorry, I guess it's just hard to not be cliché when you're talking about love-y stuff!

At any rate, I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with the person I love and respect and appreciate so much. Mark helps me to become who I want to be and supports me in all my dreams, just like I do in his. I love thinking about Mark and I growing old with each other—always learning and always improving ourselves. Because, even though both of us are far from perfect, I guess that's what makes us so perfect for each other :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Random Thoughts on My Lack of Maturity

[Note: the following thoughts are completely random--as I believe is acceptable in typical blogging--and have nothing to do with China. This is the only time you'll read the word "China" and therefore I would warn readers that if you are uninterested in the random writings of the author of this blog which are irrelevant to her China-experience, please read no further and wait for the next post].

Sometimes I find it so hard to fathom life as an adult. Like a real adult. I just feel like such a kid all of the time. Does some kind of transformation happen on a specific birthday to change this un-adult phase? I'm not sure. I've heard it's a slow transformation, but I can't really tell. Sometimes I still feel like I'm 12 years old, so, how long does this slow transformation process go for? I mean, twenty years is a pretty good amount of time. But, on the other hand what part of those twenty years was just spent developing into a self-sufficient functioning human being, and what part was spent "maturing"? Is it possible to have done both at the same time? Maybe a little, but I don't think maturity can come without the ability to perform basic human functions. I mean, it must be hard to be a mature thinker when you can't even change your own diaper—or cut your own spaghetti. Or at least, that's what I imagine (who knows—maybe babies and toddlers are the real mature ones).

So, let's say, for argument's sake, that I started maturing at age 6. By then I should have been potty-trained and have learned enough speech to communicate and understand basically what's going on around me. Plus, I mean, come on—6 year olds are just really cool! So, that really means that I've only had 14 years to go through the adultification transformation process. I would say that's nothing in comparison to the average life of a human being—let's say 75 years. But then that leads us back to the original question—when does a person reach that desired state of "maturity"—does a person live their whole life to reach maturity right before death, or should a person live most of their life already mature?

What a puzzle!

Perhaps a person should spend half of their life becoming mature, and the other half being mature. This would make sense in calculating how much one must learn every year in order to keep-up on the maturity progression—for every year one spends learning, one can spend another year having learned. If so, this would mean a person should reach the final steps of maturation at the age of 34.5 (75-6=69; 69/2=34.5). This would mean that I have 14 years to go until I reach my state of adulthood. That doesn't seem too bad since I'm only in my 14th year of the transformative process. But, then, as I mentioned, I sometimes still feel like I'm 12 years old. Is that alright? 12 years old was only 6 years into my adultification process and I've had 8 more years since then—because I'm half-way through the transformation, shouldn't I at least start to feel a difference? Perhaps… But, with 14 more years to go, I think I still have a pretty good chance at getting some make-up work done. Of course, I'm no expert.

However, then the question of where is maturity learned comes into play. HOW is maturity developed? I suppose from our parents—they seem to teach us a lot of other things important to life, so why not that? When people are pegged as socially dysfunctional (AKA incomplete in the adultification transformation AKA unfinished adults AKA failures at life), isn't it usually the parents who take the blame? Well, if this is correct then I suppose parents must already be mature in order to teach their children to be mature—how can one teach what one does not know?

This, my friends, poses a problem for me. That cuts down my time to develop into an adult by a few years. This would mean that I must finish my transformation into a mature adult before I have a child who reaches the age of 6 (the aforementioned prescribed age for starting the process in topic). If I have my first child at age 23, then that means I MUST reach maturity by age 29. That's 5.5 years gone! Looks like I really only have maybe around 8.5 years to become mature. And yet I still feel like I'm in year 6 of my transformation!

What if I don't mature fast enough and then my kids won't even have a CHANCE to finish the process which I did not? What if I spend the rest of my life not ever being able to become mature because I'll always be stuck in year 6 maturity level? What if there's something wrong with me and I'll never be able to get past the level I've been in for the past 8 years? That means my children would never become mature and their children's children would never become mature and so forth! That means I'll have ruined generations' chances of living socially functional lives!


Jeez, you know what? Maturity is over-rated anyway.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

One more month ....... !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know, it's about time! This entry is just sharing some pictures of my new classes! I love all these kids, and the teaching is MUCH easier with only ten children in a class for twenty minutes at a time.

I have one month until I'm done teaching in China. Thoughts? Not too many. My half-way mark came and went pretty fast, but that's when I started feeling ready to go home and move on with life and see my family again (to, of course, come back sometime in the future). Now that a month is all I have left, I find my emotions to be mixed between joy, disappointment, and complacency. Joy for going home and visiting my family again (and having a dryer for my clothes… and for having a bathroom that doesn't reek no matter how many drains you try to cover up…), disappointment at likely not seeing any of my awesome kids again, and complacency when it comes to teaching and putting forth effort in any area besides enjoying myself. Horrible, I know! I don't actually usually know what I'm teaching until the morning of, and it's getting harder and harder to not just play with the kids and forget about teaching them as much English as possible. On top of that, with only a month left there's this kind of rush to do everything I can in Weihai, China and take in every little experience that comes my way.

One such experience, I'm proud to say, has been eating baby octopus. My friend Caitlin here and I decided while in town after shopping to have a little adventure! We decided to go to a random restaurant and try some new—hopefully delicious—food. I know that doesn't sound very adventurous, but in China where menus are hard to read, you can't understand anyone in the restaurant, and no one in the restaurant can understand you I'd say it's an alright adventure to have after a long day of walking around town and shopping :)

So, we go into this restaurant and they immediately sit us. We're not sure if we want to eat there when they pull out the menu and to our dismay—no pictures. Meaning if we just pointed to anything who knows what we would be getting! So, we thought maybe that was TOO adventuresome and we should move to somewhere with pictures. But, then they started to bring out drinks for us! It seemed awfully rude to leave after that, but what were we going to do? We kept debating and the restaurant owners kept coming out to help us… but, with the language barrier the only thing that was understood was that Caitlin and I were teachers and American and could NOT speak Chinese. I guess that's all they needed to know though, because next thing we knew they took away our menu and motioned for us to stay seated. We thought about making a run for it a few times—not knowing if they would bring out food and make us pay for it, but they kept motioning for us to stay seated and we kept going against our better judgment and staying.

Finally they bring out food. It seems as though our fears were coming true and before us were two bowls of soup. One had fish and potatoes and the other had baby octopi. Caitlin and I just laughed and decided this was a horrible decision, but it was time to be accountable for it anyway. We start to eat the fish and potato soup as they bring out more food (cooked fish, kimchi)—too scared to touch the baby octopus soup. Then, one of the owners of the restaurant (the wife) called someone on her cell phone and wanted Caitlin to talk to whoever it was. To our surprise it was the owners' daughter and she told us that the entire meal was free—her mother's treat to us. The daughter couldn't speak much English either, but enough to share that her mother was happy to cook a special meal for us.

This was wonderful news! But, with one draw-back. That means we HAD to eat the baby octopus—it would be too rude not to. After much giggling and gagging and almost being force-fed by the woman owner—we finally decided we had to just DO IT. Luckily there was good-tasting sauce we could drench the octopus in after fishing it out of the soup (really just water with onions it looked like). And then we did it! I ate three baby octopi… something I'm proud of, but would prefer to never do again. The legs aren't actually bad at all—it was the brain that made me want to gag. At any rate, we both decided that three were enough and we should stick the rest in our purses (AFTER wrapping them in as many paper napkins we were given). And, seeing how neither of us brought our cameras, it was perfect to take the octopi all the way home and take pictures with our little friends there.

So, that's the latest fun China experience I've had—a free octopus meal from a sweet Korean family who owned a random restaurant in Weihai, China. Have I mentioned that I LOVE this place and the people I find? Well, I do!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Last day at Jing school pictures 2

Last day at Jing school pictures 1

Goodbye Jing School, Hello DaGuanHua!

Pictures of my old school are in the above post! The last day was so sad and I realized I actually am going to miss my crazy kids! I'm also missing my wonderful Chinese English teachers so much. Tao was probably my favorite because she would stay after classes whenever she could to teach my Chinese and I would in turn teach her more English. A picture of just me and her is up there a long with another picture of us and Sidney and Tung, one of the other wonderful Chinese English teachers who took care of us so well. I was sad I didn't get more pictures with my favorite kids, but, oh well! The ones I have are pretty good.

So, I've started teaching my new kids and I love them already! Teaching maximum ten kids at a time is a breeze compared to 25! Not only that but my lessons only have to be 20 minutes long! I teach eight twenty minute lessons Monday-Friday mornings. This means I end at 1140am every day! I know, best schedule ever! Teaching was ok, but now I love it! I can get a better relationship with all the kids I feel like and can definitely have more fun with them. I laugh so much going to class—these kids are hilarious. Hopefully I'll have some photos of them soon!

And that's pretty much what's new! Last Saturday we went to a Jade park and this Saturday we get to go to the biggest zoo in China or something like that. Then Monday is a holiday and we get to go to "the most beautiful park in Shandong province." That's all I've heard it referred to as, so I'm starting to think that's actually the name of the park. Anyway, it will be great! And a perfect half-way mark of fun. That's right—half-way through my first China experience. Deep and thoughtful ponderings on the first half of my China experience will be written soon!! Aah the anticipation!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Some news and some squid

So I almost forgot to tell you guys!! I tried squid a while ago! It's was interesting. I only took the smallest bite possible, so I think it was rubbery, but it was hard to tell. It was from a street vendor and fried right in front of our eyes. The flavor was really good from whatever sauce they put on it, but I'm still not sure how I feel about eating suction-cups.

Also, latest news is that my teaching responsibilities have changed. My friend Tessa had to go home this week (which, by the way, has been devastating--I'll miss her so much!! She's the one in the pictures above), and because we're already so short on teachers, they're shutting down the ILP program at my school completely and now I'll be a regular teacher at the same school I live at every day. Today was my first day teaching my new kids and tomorrow will be my last day teaching my old ones. Feelings on the matter? Well, I'm glad to have much easier kids to take care of and schedule that I actually like better. But, I will miss some of my really sweet kids as well as all the awesome Chinese English teachers at my school. I am totally torn on how I should be feeling! So, I guess I better just choose to be really excited about it all :) 

I'll put up pictures and maybe even some video tomorrow of my last day with my kids and my favorite teachers!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Vacation Pictures Part 3... last of the pictures I'm willing to post

Vacation Pictures Part 2

Vacation Pictures Part 1.... I know, I need to find a better way to do this...


Turns out time flies by FAST! And, I can't seem to keep up with blogging, or really much of anything lately. But, I'm going to try and be better.

So, last week was vacation!! Because of the Qingming festival, all the students got a few days off, and because Kelly (our Chinese coordinator) is awesome, all the ILP teachers got about ten days off of teaching this month! So, April 1-10 a bunch of us traveled to a city called Guilin! It was AMAZING!! Obviously, though, ten days is quite the vacation, and I just won't be able to tell you all about it in one post. Once again, I'll revert to pictures and just give you a couple fun highlights. Pictures I will have to post separately as individual posts due to my current blogger proxy not being the best and my e-mail not cooperating.

So, Weihai (where I'm at) is northern China, Guilin is southern China. Which means the train ride was pretty long, but actually way fun! We also didn't spend all our time in Guilin, but visited quite a few outlying cities as well. At any rate, we went there and back mostly via sleeper trains! Sleeper trains are open and just full of bunk beds and small little tables with chairs that usually don't fit the entire rear end of a normal-ish sized person. Anyway, so, the funnest thing about the sleeper trains is that everyone is so friendly. Because there's really not very much room to sit down and everything's pretty open, the people with the bottom bunk just let anyone and everyone join them sitting and that way everyone just gets to know each other. Or, well, I imagine we would if we could speak the language! But, even with the language barrier everyone was friendly. Usually someone on the train who spoke some English would hear that Americans were there and would rush over to be the translator for us. 

Another thing about the trip that I loved was the people we went with! We went with an actual tour agency type thing, which means there were a quite a few other people in our tour group. The fun thing is that all the other people were old and retired Chinese couples who spoke little to no English. They took care of us though and even invited us to come and visit them. I have one of the couple's phone number written down so one of these days we can take a weekend trip up to their house and they can feed us and show us around a little. The picture of myself and my friend Camille and a Chinese couple out on the boat in Guilin is the same couple who gave me their number. That old man was my FAVORITE! He was always so excited for everything, it was so fun to watch. Oh man, I hope I get to visit them! That guy also went on all the hikes and down the bajillion stairs down a mountain with us… only, he did it without panting as much as us! 

And yes, that's right, I went down a mountain via staircases. The Chinese are obsessed with stairs. Anyway, I'll have you know I didn't fall completely on my face once the whole way down! It actually wasn't too bad I guess—it took us about an hour and a half to walk down all the stairs, and I held on to my friend Tessa's arm the whole way down so we could both keep our balance and go down faster (no rails for most of the way, just stairs). We were in the front of the small group who decided to take the stairs almost the whole way! Yep, I know, and I didn't even sprain my ankle! Although, one of Kelly's nicknames for me is now chopstick legs because either they're skinny, or they don't bend very well going down stairs. I'm guessing at both of the above.

Most of the things we saw were super pretty parks and mountain-ish stuff and a few caves. It was all so beautiful!! And, the best part is, it wasn't insanely cold!! Colder than I was hoping, BUT, Weihai has gotten super warm while we've been away so that makes up for it completely! Just keep your fingers crossed that the weather will stay this way and won't turn back to cold for another week or two before summer hits. Looks like I'll finally have to start shaving my legs  more often which means I'll probably need to buy men's shaving cream when my current small supply of girl's shaving cream runs out. So far I haven't found and shaving supplies meant for women. Too much info for a blog? Maybe, but oh well--it's all about embracing the body here in China! No shame, my friends, no shame!! ;)

So, those are just a couple of my favorite parts about the trip—cool FYI is that we went and visited the mountains where Avatar was filmed (no signs of blue people or the tree of life or whatever). We also went to some cool hot springs. I also went clubbing for the first time! If you can call it that… no drinking for me (surprise, surprise!), but plenty of busting my mad dance skills. We also went to a southern China culture show type thing that looked like something from the early eighties. But, of course, that's China for you.

And now it's back to my regular teaching life in China. Best part is "regular" and "China" and "my" were all in the same sentence :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Just Another Day Teaching

So, good news is—MY VOICE CAME BACK!! Apparently Chinese medicine works pretty well!! I had to take 32 pills a day, but I only did so for about three days and then considered myself fine enough without the meds. Now, before some of you get too excited, supposedly this medicine is more like herbals—natural medicine. That’s what Kelly (our Chinese coordinator) said anyway—and, since I didn’t really notice any strange side-effects from taking that much medicine at once, I believe her.

Now, since my voice came back, obviously it was back to teaching for me! Tuesday was great, and Thursday was… well, maybe not great, but I guess just another day teaching first graders that don’t understand you.

Something I do to help keep the kids attention is stickers! Stickers are like heaven-sent. These kids will do almost anything for a sticker! It’s incredible. Sometimes just holding up the stickers gets almost everyone to fold their arms at attention… sometimes. Mostly I only give out stickers to the kids who talk—ILP calls it “spontaneous speech,” meaning the child says what an object is without being prompted (versus me saying the word and the child repeating after me, which is basically what the whole lesson consists of).

The second thing I have to get the kids to fold their arms at attention is giving high-fives. I’m not sure why, but man, they love it when I give them a high-five. It’s really fun! This is something I use for kids who are repeating the words I say really loud and with good pronunciation as well as the kids who are folding their arms at attention when they’re supposed. Actually, I just use high-fives whenever I can!

Now, the third thing I’ve started using might be the thing that works the best. Sprinkles. It’s like a magical word in the classroom. I’ll get them out and start to shake the container and the kids will all fold their arms immediately and start saying, “Teacher! Teacher!” to get my attention. I use the sprinkles to teach them things like use the chopsticks, use the spoon, use the bowl, etc. While doing this I teach them give and hold and other stuff. Anyway, it’s great!

So, now that you know my key teaching methods I’ll describe my teaching day Thursday... you know, just for fun.

First and Second classes: a Chinese teacher sat in the classroom almost the whole time. Perfection, I tell you! My lessons went perfectly and the kids were just wonderful! Adorable! Fun! Oh, they were so great. We reviewed a lot of concepts we’ve gone over—things like put on, take off, use, give. Those are things our kind-of text books suggests we teach… I think. The text book looks like a coloring book, and it’s hard sometimes to figure out what I’m supposed to be teaching. Anyway, they were great… Until…

Of course, AFTER the teacher leaves the second class, a girl throws-up.

Hey look! Sprinkles…. On the floor….

Me: “gross!!!”

Kids: “gross!! *throw-up and gagging sounds*”

I didn’t know what else to do with the girl so I just told her she could go and let her find a school nurse or something--because she would definitely know better than I. Now, as if it weren’t bad enough that the poor girl threw up twice on the floor, I had no idea how I was going to clean it up. Class was over by then and the kids left but I had another class coming in ten minutes later. I re-arranged the class so the chairs were away from the throw-up and tried looking around on my floor for a mop of some sorts. No luck. Third class came in and I stood by the throw-up saying, “Gross! Throw-up! Don’t step in it!” and pushing my hands so they knew to get away from it.

Kids: “Gross! *Throw-up and gagging sounds*”

Ah, and worst of all, this was my third class: DISASTER. Not even the sprinkles were working for the entire class this time. This is no doubt my CRAZIEST class. Remember that kid I talked about that just ran back and forth screaming my first day teaching? He’s in this class. So is another kid that will not sit still for three seconds together unless I’m talking to him—then he just smiles at me. He smiles. Then I turn my back and he starts jumping on top of as many kids as he can. Then I turn back and again—he just smiles.

So, I put him outside of the classroom (that’s one of the things I’ve been told to do with ‘naughty’ children).  And, he smiles. Usually I just smile back and not think much of it, but Thursday was not a good day. That little smile might have been one of the most frustrating things during the whole class. At any rate, I finally pulled out a game that got most of their attention and seemed to be teaching them a lot.

Well, the good news is the fourth class had a Chinese teacher in it and the throw-up was finally cleaned up and the kids were AMAZING again and SO much fun!

Fifth Class: Awesome! This class  might be my favorite… I never have a Chinese teacher in there with me for them, and even though they’re rambunctious and crazy, they’re all so fun and don’t fight each other the whole time. I just play around with them and I feel like they still learn a lot.

Sixth Class: Oh, what do you know… it’s my third class again… they just rotated the exact same class in again. Beautiful. This time was a little more controlled and good news is—no throwing up!

And, that was just another day teaching. I felt like I almost lost my voice again after Thursday, but at least I had a nice long weekend to gain it all back again! Also, I had a beautiful day at a SPA on Saturday! More on that next post!

Friday, March 4, 2011


I think this will finally be my shortest post! Why? Because I've been couped up in my room for days now. It'd be nice to get out and try to hang out with people, but it's pretty hard when you can't talk...

Last Friday night I came down with a fever and a sore throat. Luckily the fever only held through til Saturday night-ish, then Sunday I felt a lot better. I still had a sore throat and was somewhat congested, but I considered myself to be healing up fine. My throat still hurt quite a bit Monday night and I was worried about teaching all day the next day, but I wasn't sick enough to stay home, so I just prayed God would keep my voice up for me for all six of my classes for that day.

Well, he kept my voice for all six classes (barely)!! And right after the sixth class my voice was completely shot. I could croak, but that was pretty much the extent of my talking.  

So, I figured my voice would rest that night and I would be fine Wednesday morning.


It got worse, actually. And I couldn't even croak anymore, though I could whisper alright. And, my ear has started aching, meaning an infection or something. All I had with me was an herbal thing my mom had me take that works mostly when you first start getting a sore throat. Too bad I didn't even realize I had it until AFTER I had gotten through my fever. Anyway, luckily one of the guys in our group had more meds which I started taking Wednesday night. It was my first time every taking cough syrup!! Not a great experience. But, at least now I've done it! Also, I basically poured it straight down my throat as fast as possible, so I'm not sure it did anything anyway. 

So, it's now Friday. Whispering is still the only thing I can get out of my voice box, and I obviously had to get someone else to teach for me yesterday. It's been pretty sad, and I feel like I can't even really socialize with anyone because it's hard to do so when you can't talk... Anyway, that's been my life for the past week.

On the bright side, I've been able to get quite a bit of reading done which is fun! And, I cleaned my room up pretty well... And, I've become MUCH more grateful for a voice and feel like I can sympathize on the very smallest scale what mute people might go through sometimes. 

At any rate, I'm going to try and see the school nurse today! So, we'll see how that goes.... either way, I have great hopes for being able to talk tomorrow!! I'll let you guys know how it goes!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Beijing and TEACHING!

First of all, sorry I’ve been neglecting my blog this week! Obviously, A LOT has happened and I won’t be able to write about everything, so just know that China has been a pretty awesome experience thus far :)

I went to Beijing for FOUR DAYS last week and it was absolutely AMAZING! It felt like we were doing stuff all the time and seeing so many places! However, showing you a few pictures would be a lot more exciting than making a list of everything I did. So, here are a few pictures of me on the great wall, on Tianmen Square with a picture of Chairman Mao, and in the Forbidden City.

Sorry I don’t have more details… just know it was really cool! Instead, I want to save this blog to describe my first couple days teaching! They are definitely blog-worthy… at least, my first one definitely is.

I am one of two teachers that have to travel to a different school to teach first graders every Tuesday and Thursday. I teach six different classes of 20-30 children each of those days—four in the morning two in the afternoon. Each class is forty minutes long and I personally find it EXTREMELY exhausting. By the time I get back to my room around 330pm, I’m ready to sleep. But, the children are adorable—the little girls are my favorite because they come up and give me hugs after every class. One little girl even gave me her little thing of Nail Polish…I gave it back, but she slipped it back in my pocket. Along with being sweet, they’re very intelligent children, and I can’t believe eight year olds know more about my language than I do about theirs’.

So, these kids are really intelligent, right? Right. But, I didn’t know that my first day. In fact, I didn’t know much of anything my first day! All I knew was that these children had received English lessons last semester from ILP teachers and that they were probably going to be first graders. I didn’t know what they remembered, or even all of what they were taught last semester and I was given no direction on what to teach. So, what the heck, let’s go over body parts (eyes, ears, legs, etc.) and the alphabet.
They knew EVERYTHING already. Goodbye lesson plans.

The first two classes were fairly calm, though I could tell they were bored with everything they already knew. But, a Chinese teacher was there to keep them in line and translate things I needed her to.

The third class: No Chinese teacher. This is more worrisome than you know.

I couldn’t even get them to sit in their chairs!! One boy ran back and forth from one end of the classroom to the other, just screaming, occasionally tackling another child on his way. Ten of them practically wouldn’t take their arms and hands off of me, making it pretty hard to move around, and another ten kept screaming, “Teacher! Teacher! W.C.! W.C.! [Bathroom! Bathroom!]” The rest of the children were content to color and talk to each other, ignoring the chaos.

The children are NOT allowed to go to the bathroom during class, so I had to constantly say “No W.C., after class! After class!” As well as catch children running out the door. One boy had a water bottle and decided to poor it on his pants then point as if he had wet himself, still screaming, “Teacher! Teacher! W.C.! W.C.!”

Luckily my fourth class was better behaved, though they too were bored and didn’t pay as much attention. After my fourth class I was able to take a break for lunch and prepare for my last two classes. Mostly mentally prepare, but I did try to re-think my next lesson plans. But the classes aren’t the only difficult thing to deal with while I’m at the school—there’s also the fact that all the other teachers on my floor don’t speak one word of English.

My first day I didn’t have a schedule or anything, so I just listened to the music that meant it was time to start or stop class. I also need to switch rooms every class, and seeing as how I didn’t have a schedule my first day, I simply tried to sign to the other teachers to let me know which class I needed to go to next. This worked fine until after lunch when a teacher pointed me to room 2. I walked into the room and was blown away by about forty different students running around. I simply told myself it was going to be alright, I just needed to get through the day and plan better lessons next time. I shut the door and immediately noticed it locked. The doors apparently lock with a key on the INSIDE of the classroom. Somehow this door had been locked, and I didn’t have the key. To make things more embarrassing, room 2 wasn’t even the room I was supposed to be in. Luckily the doors have little windows so I signed to the teacher (who DID belong in that classroom) that the door was locked. Also luckily, it only took less than ten minutes (which seemed a lot longer) for a janitor to finally come and get the door open.

Best teaching day ever? You bet! [note: I’m afraid that WAS sarcasm]

Ok, so actually it was really hilarious. And, I laughed about it a lot, and really wished the teachers could understand me so I could joke around with them about it too. Also, the next day teaching went better and I have hope that I will continue to get better as I learn what works and what doesn’t. I still feel like I have so much to learn, and after my second day of teaching I was stressed about how much I don’t know what I’m doing. But, I’m sure that after five months I’ll at least have a handle on this whole teaching children thing!

And, that’s pretty much the latest and greatest—Living in China is still a blast, and I’m still getting used to things like the food and not having most people understand me—but those are some of the things that make living here so fun most of the time. I guess that’s a lot of what makes life in general so fun—diving into the unknown and living not for success or fame or even for assured safety or pure pleasure, but instead living simply for the experience of it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Beauty of Inconvenience

So remember me talking about the shower and the bathroom? Well, I think it’s time to tell some stories about that.

WARNING: The following stories and descriptions contain some rather grotesque details. If you would like to keep on living in the fantasy that all other countries are like America, please do not read any further.

The bathroom itself is a small square room with many functions. It serves as a shower (meaning we don’t have a separate shower stall—the bathroom IS the shower stall), a place where we wash our clothes in the small washing machine, a place where we brush our teeth and look into the only mirror here, and where we relieve ourselves of internal waste. It is also where we keep our bag of used toilet paper because we are not allowed to flush it down our small toilet [note: ‘keep’ meaning when the bag is full we throw it away… we are not actually keeping our used toilet paper around for fun]. It also serves as a gateway to sewage smell which I find rather annoying at times, but with the help of lavender air-spray have been quite content. I will say that the bathroom is ingenious for its multi-purpose set up in such a small space, and I praise the Chinese for being so practical.

Now, our shower. It is not directly attached to the wall, but the wall has a place where we can set the showerhead while we shower. When I tried doing that my first day I notice that it sprayed directly at the door, thus likely causing water to seep into our bedroom. Yeah, no good. So, instead I have to hold the showerhead myself and set it down when I have to use my hands. The nice thing is that because the bathroom is so small, it stays very warm with all of the steam from the hot shower! Which leads me to the next point—our shower in particular doesn’t seem to understand that we need the hot water and the cold water on at the same time in order to be comfortable. When we turn red knob then the water starts to turn hot—hallelujah! But, when we turn the other knob for cold water, the showerhead acts likes it’s going to explode. I’m not sure if there’s any other way I can describe it. I haven’t yet tried to turn on the cold water alone, but I do know that even after turning down the hot water as much as possible, the cold water still makes the showerhead go crazy. It must be a water pressure thing. At any rate, the nice thing is that our water takes so long to really heat up so only by the time I am about done with my shower does the heat become too much. I think it’s a wonderful thing, really—this way not only does the whole bathroom itself get very warm, but I am forced to take a quick shower (something I have always struggled with).

Now, our washing machine. This morning my roommate Lacey and I had the greatest triumph! We got our old foreign washing machine to turn on and actually wash our towels! This adventure made my morning totally worth being awake for!

First, after putting our towels and soap in, we tried pressing every button on the machine. Nothing came on. We made sure that the water was hooked up to the machine, but still nothing. All of the buttons have only Chinese characters on them, so we didn’t even know what buttons were for what. However, our thinking was that if we could just get it to turn on in the first place then we could experiment with everything else. Luckily, my friend Eliza happened to be on Skype while Lacey and I pondered over our predicament. Eliza said that she would try to get someone over facebook who could read the characters for us. Then, as the time went on she asked us if it was plugged in.

Me: “yes, yes we already checked to make sure that the water pipes were securely twisted into the washing machine!”

And then it dawned on me. We hadn’t yet tried plugging it into the wall to get electricity. Because, I guess electrical appliances like washing machines need electricity to run.


I’m not blonde, really.

Anyway, we had a good laugh about it and ended up pressing the right buttons to get our towels washed! Now they are currently hanging up on our coat-rack thingy to dry because the Chinese don’t generally use dryers. I miss having a dryer, but I find the energy efficiency of letting things air-dry kind of comforting actually—kind of like "going green" or something. Plus, in the winter time basically all my sweaters have to be air-dried anyway, so this way I don’t run the risk of shrinking any of my clothes! It’s very convenient actually!

Now, about the smell. Our room actually smells quite lovely every time we walk in the door now! We simply keep the door to the bathroom shut and put something on top of the main drains to keep the odor out. This leaves us with our wonderful lavender spray making the air smell beautiful. We didn’t know what to do at first and I believe the first night was a little frustrating as the smell would always be there, but be worse sometimes and better others. However, one of the ILP (ILP is the program I’m with) people suggested we keep our door closed which helped a lot. After that I learned from a very useful source who learned from another very useful source that the sewage smell comes from the drain and all we need to do is cover it whenever we can in order to contain the smell. And now our room smells like lavender :)

Overall, I’d say our set-up is quite nice and I’m enjoying all of the little previously unknown perks immensely! [note: this post may seem to some a bit sarcastic, but in all honesty I’m being very blunt about how I feel. I thoroughly enjoy making the most out of the small inconveniences we have here—it’s like a game and I think I might be winning!]

Saturday, February 12, 2011

First Days Over Seas

China. Weihai, China. That’s where I am. Awesome much? Yeah, you don’t even know.

There are SO MANY things I can write about it’s hard to really pick the best or most unique (to me) parts of my trip… or even what to tell first. I suppose I’ll start where I left—in Salt Lake City airport. Also, considering much of my trip has so far consisted of little things that may not be interesting, I’ve tried to put a sort of heading before each paragraph so you fine people can skim to what sounds most intriguing. Unless of course you’re really bored or something, then you can just read it all :)

[SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH]: boring. I checked in and left for LA. Met maybe two people in my group. Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

[LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA]: again, boring. Met a lot more people from my group! Really cool people. Spent maybe two hours trying to figure out where to go to prepare for the flight to Korea. That’s where I got my passport stamped. It looks so cool. Well, ok, considering this is the first thing on my passport ever, I’m not exactly an expert… but, whatever. It’s awesome.

[SEOUL, KOREA]: HUGE AIRPORT! And, very long plane ride. About 13 to 14 hours I think is how long the ride is. T O R T U R E. I was in the last row of the plane and actually did a good job of sleeping most of the way. Unfortunately, our lay-over was between about 630am-330pm so we didn’t get to go out and see much. The airline lent us a hotel and a free meal there which was cool, but since we weren’t allowed to sight-see, we just slept most of the time. I had Kimchi Fried Rice and it was SO GOOD. The hotel was also super high-class. I don’t know if I’ve ever stayed at a hotel that nice. It was awesome. And free :)

[WEIHAI, CHINA]: Now we get to the good stuff! Our group arrived at 330pm-ish and afterwards got to the school that we’ll be teaching and living at around 5pm. After dragging our luggage up about ten flights of stairs outside we continued up another five flights of stairs inside to get to our rooms. Will I have a good butt after these five months are over? I had better. After putting our luggage down we got to eat at the school’s cafeteria and then were let back upstairs to unpack and finally sleep.

[WIEHAI WEATHER….and other kind of boring stuff] This morning I woke up at about 645am to make sure I showered [note: showering is another adventure here which I will share in another entry I think] and then chatted with my mom and little sister over skype while my roommate showered. At 845am-ish is when we left our dorms to go out into the city!!! We walked. Yes, we walked. This is important. Why? BECAUSE IT’S FREEZING HERE! Not only is it temperature cold, but it’s very humid which makes it worse [note: am I aware that I am a huge wimp when it comes to cold weather? Yes, but hey, I wasn’t the only one in our group complaining!]. We first went to the police station to register our passports with the city or whatever then went to the bank to transfer money. After that long endeavor came the fun stuff.

[FOOD AND BEING AN ALIEN] We got to go out to eat and shop. No one really speaks English here. And, everyone stares at us when we walk by, like we’re aliens. Maybe for some of them, for all they know we could be. I guess Americans aren’t seen as much this far north in a smaller-ish town. At any rate, it’s kind of fun being an alien. I don’t know why, but I enjoy the strange attention. The lunch I had was SO GOOD! It was the fried bread stuff with meat and peppers and then I also had dumplings/pot-stickers (however you like to say it) with this tuber onion [note: I would not have known what the green vegetable stuff in there was called if it weren’t for Kelly, our coordinator, who told me..or, whose Chinese-English dictionary told us] and egg inside.

[MORE ON BEING AN ALIEN… AND CHINESE PEOPLE SO FAR] After that we went shopping in the grocery store for anything we were missing in our rooms. I had to find shampoo and conditioner and body and face wash and a bunch of other stuff. Seeing how I can’t even speak, let alone read, Chinese, it was a very fun adventure. My friend and I finally ended up asking one of the workers (who of course didn’t speak English) where the face wash was. We rubbed our faces and pointed to soap and I think she got the message… I’m not really sure, she nodded her head and spoke Chinese to us (as if we would understand) and took us to an aisle where face wash was pretty close by. There were also a couple Chinese women (older) who just thought we American girls were so funny. Anything we said? I don’t think so. Anything we were doing? Considering we were just standing in the middle of the produce section, I imagine not. They just thought we were hilarious and tried to talk to us. We just laughed back and said we couldn’t understand them. Did this deter them? Not in the least, they just spoke slower is all. That seems to be a trend though, instead of trying other means of communication, it seems like people just talk slower, as if that will magically help us understand their language. Well, anyway, it’s pretty funny and once I start wrapping my head around the language, I’m sure I’ll appreciate them talking slower! Anyhow, later on we met up with the older ladies again and they waved and smiled and my friend and I replied with “Ni Hao!” which they found even funnier than us standing in the middle of the produce section. It was great.

[END] So, that is a basic run-down of the what I’ve done so far. There are lots of other things I can talk about—like the smell, and the multi-functional bathroom, and the lack of good heating (I’ve been indoors for a couple hours or so and my coat and scarf are still on), and, well, lots of things. But, for now I think this will do. Now that you have a basic run-down, I’ll go into actual fun stories later. All you need to know right now is that I love it here and trying to enjoy even the seemingly unenjoyable has been more fun than I even thought! ‘Til next time!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The First

So, I told myself some years ago that I would never start a blog. I mean, not only are blogs time-consuming, but they're a little weird--why would someone spend such time writing about themselves when they can use real-life communication (aka, face-to-face....electronics not being involved.... ever heard of such a phenomenon? It seems some people haven't...)? Well, though blogs may still be time-consuming and weird, here is my own blog nonetheless. I have decided that it actually makes sense for me to finally get a blog and here are my reasons why... because, apparently I'm supposed to write whatever I want, whether or not it sounds interesting.... right?

First, because I hear it is a good way to keep in touch with friends and I find that I actually like reading my friends' blogs occasionally [note: if you are one of those friends, you probably don't know it. I don't subscribe to blogs, I only blog-stalk randomly... so, you never know who or when or what I'm reading... I know, creepy, right?], so maybe this will get me engaged enough in the blog world to not only keep up more faithfully in what's happening in my friends' lives, but have them keep up in some of what's happening in mine.

Second, I'M GOIN' TA CHINA!!!!!!!!! And I want to remember everything I can and have a lot of memories stashed for after I return in six months. Unfortunately, I'm not so good at regular journal writing, so, I'm hoping that this sort of thing will give me more motivation to write everything down and put up pictures and all of that great, great stuff. Also, I believe in record-keeping for the sake of keeping even memories which aren't associated with China, so I think this will be something good for me to do even after returning.

Third (closely related to the first), sometimes I feel really guilty for being so horrible at keeping in-touch with closer friends [note: I don't really feel bad at all for not keeping in-touch with not-so-close friends.... but, I guess if they want to read this too I have no objections! Who knows, maybe I've read they're blog at some point too  .....  ]. At any rate, I'm hoping this blog will be an easier way to relieve some of that guilt--I'll just hand my blog address out like candy to fat children and feel comforted that people will know what's going on in my life without having to talk to them individually all the time [note: I do not actually think any of my friends are like fat children..... it was just an analogy....].

And, fourth, I think it might actually be kind of fun..... in a weird sort of way... :)

So, in the end, I like to think of this blog as an investment towards my general peace of conscience.