Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Recap

In case you couldn't access the blog I had on our website, here's what you missed:

Blisters, Blueberry Lays, etc.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We have now been in China for 19 days. We have had too many adventures during these 2 1/2 weeks to record them all here. I will try to hit the high points.

After spending a night in Shanghai, we arrived at our apartment in Hangzhou Friday night. When I woke up Saturday morning, it took me a few minutes to realize where I was. And when I did realize where I was, I kept thinking, “This is crazy. What am I doing here?” Although there are days when I still think that, I have started to feel at home here. That first Saturday, we walked down to the supermarket. At the time, it seemed like it was about 5 miles - about as much as I would walk in maybe 2 weeks in the U.S. I had major blisters and was not really all that excited to be in China. Now that we have been here for a few weeks, that walk to the supermarket seems like nothing. Maybe we are getting in better shape. Maybe it just seems that way because we have to walk everywhere, and we’ve covered longer distances than that. Or maybe we’re just getting used to it. Our apartment is on the 6th floor. There is no elevator. That’s 106 steps - we counted. I used to get winded on the 2nd floor. Now I can make it all the way to the 4th floor before getting winded. In short, we are adjusting to life in China.

Many of our adventures tend to take place in the supermarket. That is where I had my first glimpse at culture shock. We live in a city with about 7 million other people, so the supermarket gets pretty crowded. But somehow, among all the pushing and shoving, I still noticed the live turtles, struggling in plastic bags, trying to escape their doom of becoming dinner. We have thought about starting a ‘Save the Turtles’ operation here, but I fear that even if we set them free, someone would be all to happy to find free dinner passing them by on the streets. We also came across a display of Lays potato chips. I thought, “Oh good, a little taste of home.” But the Lays here are a little different than those back in the good ol’ U.S.of A. Our choices were cucumber, kiwi, or blueberry. We were feeling adventurous, so we decided to give the blueberry flavored Lays a try. When we got back to the apartment and worked up the nerve, we counted to 3 and went for it at the same time. After about 1.2 seconds, we were both reaching for a drink to get the taste out of our mouths. Lesson #1 from China: Blueberries and potato chips don’t mix.

Oh The Adventures of Teaching...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I have now completed my first full week of classes. And, thankfully, have a week of holiday to recover! I teach 6 classes. On Tuesdays, I teach 2 Business English classes for senior economics majors (one of these is pictured above). On Thursdays and Fridays, I ride a shuttle bus to our other campus (1 hour ride from the campus where we live). I have 2 classes on each of those days - all Oral English for freshman English majors.

My seniors are not the best English students, but we’re getting used to each other. They were my first class, and we have actually met 3 times. Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors all begin classes one week before the Freshman. Our first class meeting was quite an adventure. Because they are economics majors, they haven’t had as much practice with their English, so During the first class, I introduced myself and told about my family and my hometown (Memphis). Next, we went over the class rules. I told them that if they obeyed the rules, we would be friends and have a good time in class. If they do not obey the rules, they will make me very sad, and I would have to make them very sad. They were terrified of me. I don’t think anyone has ever been terrified of me in my entire life! I’ve got to admit, that was a little thrilling! For the rest of class, I gave them an opportunity to introduce themselves to me. They had to tell me 5 things: 1)Their Chinese name, 2)Their English name, 3)Their hometown, 4)What their hometown is famous for (every town is famous for something around here), and 5)If they could visit anywhere in the world, where would the go and why. While they were working on their answers, I went around the room to help those who didn’t already have one, come up with an English name. I made a list of names they could choose from- you know, good English names like Monica, Rachel, Phoebe and Kate, Juliet, Claire, Sawyer, Charlie, and Jack. Their introductions went over without much hitch. They had no problem telling me what their hometowns were “famurs” for, and if they could visit anywhere in the world, most chose Paris because it is so “romantica.”

But if I’m allowed to have favorites, I would have to say it’s my freshmen classes. They are English majors, so their English is much better. And, who wouldn’t like a class that gasps as soon as you walk into the room and mumbles to one another “how beautiful!” It has a certain affect on the self-esteem. They also tend to be more respectful. I also like these classes because they are only 2 40-minute periods, rather than the 3 40-minute periods for my senior classes. We had the same class format for my Oral English classes. I introduced myself and the class, and then gave them a chance to introduce themselves. It went really well. And after classes were over, half the class would line up to have their picture taken with me!

Now I’m grateful to have a week off. Today is China’s National Day. This year they celebrate 60 years since the founding of the People’s Republic. October 4th is the Mid-Autumn Mood Festival. So to celebrate both holidays, the government has given us October 1-8 as a national holiday. We plan to visit Shanghai for a few days. And then we will travel by bus to Nanjing, to visit some museums and tour the city. I’ll let you know how it goes!

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Kristen! Good to hear ya'll are making it okay over there! I have to say...the blueberry Lays do not sound too appetizing! :) Do ya'll by any chance have a mailing address over there??