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 :)