Friday, December 14, 2012

*sigh*

Sometimes this feels like the dumbest thing I've ever done. I mean, CHINA?!? Really?!?
The other day I was told that no one really understands me, but it is important for me to be there cause they can practice listening skills.
Seriously? *sigh* I thought I came here to be a teacher. But, the sad and frustrating thing is.....it's true. The kids don't understand me and most of the teachers don't understand me.
Can I be a good teacher if I can't make them understand?
It is all super frustrating. I wanted to make a difference. And, you know what, maybe I still will make a difference.....just not in the way that I originally hoped for......

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful.

Okay, let me start with the sad part....

Last night, on my way home from work, I started crying. Just LOTS of silent tears running down my face.
Why? Because I realized it was almost Thanksgiving and I wasn't going to be with my family. I became super emotional about that. And now....I'm trying not to blubber all over myself again.

I'm lonely, but I'm thankful for the few friends I've made here. I'm very thankful for Jessica. She has pretty much saved my life over here. I'm thankful for Chris and Charlie too, but Jessica has a seriously special place in my thankful heart parts.
I'm still (AND ALWAYS WILL BE) thankful for cheese, my family, my friends, and dark chocolate.

I'm thankful for Skype and Gmail. (Side Note: I would be EVEN MORE thankful for gmail if you guys would USE IT and email me more.) I'm thankful for the English language, books, Amazon.com and Kindle, learning, music, forks, spoons, not having to eat chicken feet, laughter, Netflix, Tiffani Mills, sleep, George Clooney, Snickers, and SO MANY OTHER THINGS.....

I seriously could go on forever. There is so much to be thankful for......

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cutest

So, the other day, Chris and I went for a walk outside the school. He needed to buy some face wash...and then we were going to grab something small for dinner.
Chris decides that he wants to eat something gross from inside a small convenience store.
Side Note: If you think gas station hot dogs are gross...you should see the "meat" items they sell at Chinese convenience stores.
Anyway, I waited for him outside because I didn't want to look at the "meat" and "vegetables" that have (basically) been soaking in soy sauce all day.
Well, just inside the store is one of those long/short freezers filled with various ice cream products. There is this woman waiting in line to pay, and her toddler wanders away from her to get up on his tippy-toes and look longingly into the freezer.
I watch him and realize that I've seen this before...many times. And then, I realize that toddlers and little kids are THE CUTEST when they get all excited about ice cream or candy. I mean, watching this little guy try SO HARD to get further up on his little toes....just so he could see all the treats.....SO CUTE!
So, I had a moment. I'm not sure what kind of moment it was, exactly. Maybe just a moment where I deeply appreciated the cuteness of innocence/childhood/tiny peeps.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Update: The Five

Okay...so, my list of Five Dudes..................

I found out that Paul Blackthorne is dating Daryl Hannah. I'm not sure why, but that totally killed the mood for me. I don't have anything against Daryl Hannah, but she is....I don't know. It killed the mood.
So, my number 5 is now Josh Gates. I mean, he has been on the list for a while.....but.......
Honestly, Josh Gates is on the list because I want to hang out with him and have movie trivia contests. Or, we could come up with a way to have a sarcastic contest......

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pizza!

NOTE: I tried to include pictures, but Blogger won't let me. :(

So, they finally talked me into going to Pizza Hut.
This city has KFC, Pizza Hut, TCBY, Starbucks, and McDonald's. I've only been to Starbucks and KFC. I saw a TCBY last month...and that one I will give a try, you know, to see how close it is to home. But, McDonald's....I don't care. I don't like eating there in America, and it was GROSS in Paris....so, I'm taking a wild guess and thinking I won't like it here either.
The point is, I wasn't very excited to try Pizza Hut. I mean, Pizza Hut is okay in America, but China isn't very good with cheese....so I was worried.
But, they talked me into it.
I started laughing when we walked inside. I told them that Pizza Hut in China is a much nicer place than a Pizza Hut in America.
Okay, I'll be honest...I don't really remember the last time I went inside a Pizza Hut. So, I don't really remember the menu. But, this menu really surprised me. I wasn't expecting there to be so many options!
And, then, surprise upon surprise upon more surprise.......THE PIZZA WAS REALLY GOOD! The salad was good, I tried a chicken wing and some pepper steak. We all shared a few different plates of things.........AND IT WAS GOOD!
I really like good surprises. 



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Haircut...

The other day: Haircut Day!

Charlie went with me, to help me communicate with the hair dude. I brought two pictures to give him examples of what I wanted (to go with the translation). One picture was an example of what I REALLY wanted (but the girl in the picture has straight hair, so...I knew it wasn't very likely) and the second picture was a curly hair example. I mean, the curly hair option was as close to the REALLY wanted option as I could find.....
So, Charlie and hair dude talked for a while. I thought that Charlie was talking to him about the pictures and about my description......you know, like ya do....
The whole time the hair dude was playing with my hair. I noticed that he had a really nice smile, and I tried not to be creepy about how closely I was studying this nice smile. Luckily, no one was paying any attention to me at this point...so, I think I got away creepy-free.
Then, Charlie turns to me and tells me that the guy can't cut my hair the way I REALLY wanted it. I knew this was coming....I get this all the time, "this haircut won't work with the curl in your hair." But, this was not the reason I got......this is the gist of hair dude's reason:
I am not trained to cut hair this soft. Her foreign hair is too soft to cut like this. I can't cut it. Too soft. I will try to cut it this way......(and then he gestured toward my curly hair option)
So....did I get either option? Not really. But, it is much better than it was. So, now I just need to figure out how to style it in my "foreign" way. :D
On a side note: I've also heard that my hair is too fine or thin to cut in a certain way. This is the first time I've ever heard too soft.....I kind of like it though. Hearing that my hair is too soft makes me want to whip it around Pantene Style......

And the Winner for Best Chat Wrap-Up...

I got to chat with Tiffani for a bit the other night. Twas splendid. And, I must tell you, this was also my favorite chat ending....maybe ever. Probably ever...so far. I mean, pop culture references and pirate speak? If I had been eating cheese...this might have been my heaven....(if George Clooney had been feeding me the cheese)
Enjoy:

me: I won't. But, you should also know that Wendy could never live here because of the gigantic population of cockroaches.
  So, THE BUGS ARE EVERYWHERE!
 Tiffani: AHHHHH
 me: :)
 Tiffani: sob
 me: I'm so sorry. But, think of it this way, I came and plundered these here waters so that ye wouldn't have te.
1:36 AM Tiffani: Bless ye, Bless ye
 me: I hear tell a land sayin.......knowin' is half the battle.
  Now we know!
  Wait.
 Tiffani: that we do
1:37 AM me: I just quoted GI Joe. So, how did the Reading Rainbow song just get stuck in my head?
 Tiffani: HAHAHA The More You Know!
  there's another one for ya
  so much learnin
1:38 AM me: Awesome.
  I'm going to go Care Bear Stare at my toothbrush.
  Maybe that can be my new teeth whitening proceedure.
1:39 AM Tiffani: Haha indeed! Good night Worthy Nemesis
 me: *procedure
 Tiffani: the first one sounded more piratey
 me: Good night! May the seas be fair and yer rum be never ending....
1:40 AM Tiffani: Aye. Same te ye.

October...


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2 am

So, last night I was up until the wee hours of the morning.

I'll give you just a moment to think about all of the amazing things I could have been doing......







I don't know what you thought, but every single one of you was wrong.


I was wandering around my apartment hunting a mosquito. I'm sorry, let me rephrase that...I was wandering around my apartment trying to kill the state of Iowa that was dressed as a mosquito.
You guys, this thing was so big, it made a buzzing sound like a bee. It was ginormousbyhuge...and it WOULD NOT DIE!
First, I heard it....I was reading, so I wasn't really paying attention. But, I kept wondering what that sound was.....
And then it landed on my arm. I jumped. I swatted it. It flew away lazily with a dented leg.....
Then, I followed it to my closet and hit it with a shoe. It flew away lazily with a missing leg.....I know this because the leg was LONG ENOUGH for me to notice it still sticking to my shoe.
The buzzing stopped for a bit. I actually thought it had gone somewhere to die. I was relieved. I got ready for bed around 1....I did a final sweep and turned out the light.
I wasn't in bed long when the buzzing started just over my ear. I shouted something like, "how are you NOT DEAD?" Then, I got out of bed and turned the light back on. I was on a mission. I was determined!
It was on the ceiling. So, I grabbed another shoe and threw it at the ceiling. I don't know if I hit Iowa, but I did leave a perfect shoe print.....it's actually almost too perfect to clean off (so, I haven't yet)....
Gigantor the Blood Sucker wandered over to the ugly drapes. I went and found my bug spray. I sprayed him/her/it/Iowa. Nothing. I sprayed again. Twitching ensued...and then flying lazily away. I shouted again, "I can't sleep thinking you are going to eat me! How are you not dead?"
Side Note: At this point it is just after 1:30 and my neighbor decides at this point to start blasting Adele.
I wandered around and listened. I looked. I put my glasses back on and looked some more....I thought about my level of craziness. I decided that it would be okay to laugh about my level of craziness tomorrow....but, for now....I was Arnold and the mosquito was Predator. AND I WAS NOT LAUGHING!
There was no buzzing. I couldn't find Iowa. So, finally, at about 2 am...I decided that I was too tired to care anymore. Gigantor the Blood Sucker was either dead, or he/she/it/State Fair of Death would be eating my face.

So, I woke up this morning! I still have a face! And the thing....THE THING.....seems to be dead.

Side Note 2: I'm still not laughing about my craziness. I'm blaming China for my craziness.

Side Note 3: When I return to America I will need help coming up with more excuses for my craziness. (Global Warming?)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Five

Yo.

Remember that episode of friends where they pick their five famous people? (I've probably blogged about it before.....) And then Ross meets one of the people that got kicked off his list?
Anyway, I've had a list of five since that episode came out. George Clooney has always been number one. Duh. But, I have had a few people get kicked off the list when they get married.....cause that's how I roll.
So, in the past year or two, some men have left the list. I had a really hard time getting five put together again! Cause, you know, I'm stuck in my ways or something....I'm actually not sure.
BUT! Today! I finally found a number 5...which means....my list is back! IT'S ALIVE!

The Five:
1. George Clooney. DUH.
2. Chris Pine. Have you seen his eyes? Ignore the eyebrows. His EYES!
3. Michael Fassbender.
4. Batman. Yes. The actual comic book hero. Just go with it....
5. Paul Blackthorne. He is new. New on the list...new in my awareness....

So, we say goodbye to Jeremy Northam (YOU WILL BE MISSED!), Robbie Williams, and Seth Rogen.
I would also like to thank the show, "Friends"....for STILL entertaining me and filling my life with random joy/stupidity.

Word.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

That Bad, Huh?

K. So, my students hate writing. They get really nervous about spelling and grammar. I understand that it is hard for them, but I keep telling them that they need practice. It will always be hard and scary if you never try.....I say stuff like that......
So, I try to make the writing assignments a bit more exciting for them. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it backfires on me.
On Tuesday night and Saturday afternoon, I teach a class of 12 year old kids. There are 7 students in that class and they are my FAVORITE kids! So, I'm not going to lie, I try to make that class more fun than my other classes.
I told them we were going to do a writing assignment. But, to make it different, I told them they were going to have 10 minutes to draw a picture. Then, I would take the pictures and give them to another student. They all then had 25 minutes to write a story about the picture they received.
I didn't think it sounded too bad. It was different for them. So, I thought it wouldn't be too bad. Well, they all groaned. One student leaned his head back and closed his eyes. He sighed heavily and said, "oh my god, god, god in the sky."
I chuckled and said, "that bad, huh?" They all responded with a very loud yes.
I split them up across the room and started the timer for drawing. Then I took the drawings and had them pick one at random and return to their seats.
You guys....they were all sitting around at different parts of the room. This is important.....
I got all the stories back and discovered that they must have hated this assignment far more than I thought they did.
I told you I have 7 kids, yes? They all had TOTALLY different drawings, yes?
Okay. 5 of the 7 stories ended EXACTLY the same way. It did NOT matter what happened in the rest of the story............the last sentence was:
And then they eat sh*t and die.
So, I stood in front of the class to give feedback.....and my eyes were watering cause I thought it was so funny. I was having a hard time talking. So, all I could think to say was:
Ummm...the correct grammar is- And then they ate sh*t and died.

Monday, August 20, 2012

You know I like RANDOM

Random stories and thoughts......

Yesterday I saw a man riding a bike. He wasn't wearing a shirt, his
pants were way too big and full of holes. He had no shoes, but that
isn't the part that made me stop in the middle of the road: He had no
arms. He was leaning over the handlebars and steering with his chest.

Does anyone understand what Sly Stalone says? Ever? He needs
subtitles. Is that a job? Someone should have that job.

I started watching "The Expendables" online last night. That's what
made me think about RockyRambo. I don't normally spend time thinking
about Mr. Stalone. But, seriously, he is the king of mumbling.
Anyway, I couldn't finish the movie. When it got to the point where it
seemed like RockyRambo was going to have a love interest...and he
might be kissing someone....I realized that I couldn't finish
watching. I realized that the thought of watching him kiss someone was
the stuff of nightmares. Have I developed a new fear?

The school got a new secretary two months ago. She wears stripper
shoes to work. Today, she is so high off the ground....she can't walk
in a straight line. I must be tired, or something, because it super
funny.

My school is on the 28th floor of this business building. We are the
entire top floor. There is a hotel behind us that you can see from
some of the classrooms. The hotel caught on fire this morning. I've
been watching the firemen......stand around the fire and chat with
each other. I'm hoping they are at least talking about the fire.
Cause....they don't seem to be doing much else. I mean, they brought a
hose. So, they got started. I think.

I went to have lunch the other day......oh, it was SO GOOD! Rice,
eggs, tomatoes, a side of potatoes, and fantastic spices. It was
perfect. Almost.
I was sitting at a table just outside on the sidewalk. Right next to
my table was a big glass thing, like a fish tank, belonging to the
store next door. A TANK FILLED WITH BOILED CHICKEN HEADS. So, as long
as I didn't look to my right....lunch was perfect. :)

I miss chocolate. I don't know where the Chinese got their
chocolate.....and I don't know who told them it WAS chocolate.
Somebody lied.

I've had parts of "Funky Cold Medina" stuck in my head for two days.

The other night...I couldn't sleep. That happens a lot here. This kind
of non sleeping would have been awesome when I had graveyard shifts
back in ye ol' college.
So, around 6am....I got super-holy-crap-amazingly bored. And what did
I do? Why, I cut my own hair. CAUSE I'M LEAH. That's how I roll.
Bad news, kids: Kitchen scissors in China......not so great for hair cutting.
Good news, kids: No one but me seems to notice that I messed up. Cause
most hairstyles in China....well, let's just say......no. Let us not
say. Let us not be rude.

Ummm....

(August 2, 2012)

I thought my life in China would be different. Not better....just....I don't know.

I read a lot, I wander the Internet, I go to work, I eat food......OH WAIT! I guess that is different. I don't really eat the same food.

OH WAIT! I can't understand anybody. Now, that isn't totally different. There are a lot of people in America that I don't understand. Some people just don't make sense, you know? But, here, I don't understand what anyone is saying. At. All.

That gets.....frustrating. Disheartening? Something.

The other day, I was walking to the store to buy some foodage. I'm walking home with two heavy bags and basically watching my feet the whole way....because I don't want to step on poop. Here, in good ol' China, you run the risk of stepping on dog, cat, or child poop. In the street. So, it is important to watch where you are going.
I'm walking around the corner and a man comes rushing out of a store and gets in my face to yell at me and shoo me away. His face was in my face, his hands were in my face, and his yelling was in my face. I stopped and said, "what did I do?" Well, this just made him yell more....so I started walking a bit quicker around him. I mean, I must have done something horrible....right? Like, walk on the sidewalk? Carry groceries? Wear a hat on a rainy day?

Ugh. I'm clearly a horrible person.

Hiking?

I also wrote this on March 29th.......

On Monday, most of the teachers went on a hiking trip to Western
Mountain. I say trip...but, the mountain isn't really that far away.
Oh, and it was paved the whole way...........so, it wasn't really
hiking like I'm used to.....when they said hiking, I thought of Rock
Canyon. :) And that isn't really what I got. BUT, it was gorgeous. I
loved getting out of the city and into the trees. The sounds of the
city melted away and all I could hear was nature. (And the rest of the
teachers speaking to each other in Chinese)
I loved the mountain. We "hiked" for a bit over two hours to a
village. The village name translates into something about Cat
Cat......I don't really understand. I didn't see any cats. But,
whatever......
We had lunch there. You may have read about that on Facebook. You
know, on the FanPage that Tiffani started for me...................we
ate rooster and hen. And the ENTIRE animal was on the platter. I could
see the beak, the feet, all the organs...and all the meat was still on
the bone.
I had two bites before I noticed the animal was practically staring
back at me.....and then I decided just to eat rice and vegetables.
But, I did try an egg and flower omelet. That wasn't bad. But, flowers
taste kind of weird.
It was a fun day. I hope we do more stuff like that. :) I can't wait
to share it with you!!!!!








Sunday, June 3, 2012

March 29th...

Today is March 29th. (The day I wrote this.....)

We had a teacher meeting today. We have one every Thursday to talk
about teaching problems, ideas and general stuff.......
Today we watched "The Ron Clark Story." It messed me up. I knew about
the story...I had read about Ron Clark, but this was the first time I
had ever watched the movie.
I cried through most of it, but luckily....I didn't make a gross mess
of myself. I cried lightly and quietly in the back of the classroom.
I loved the movie. I long to be that kind of a teacher.
After the movie we all went around and talked about what the movie
made us feel. I said: I want to be that kind of a teacher. Sadly, a
lot of education is like that in America. A lot of kids go to school
because they have to, not because they have any love for learning.
This movie made me emotional and I don't really want to say anything
else because I don't want to cry.
But, here is what I wanted to say...........
That movie is a good example of why I came to China to teach.
Education is not as important as it used to be or as it should be in
America. So many kids and parents have lost the love for education!
And that makes me sad. Because, to me....education is number one.
So, I came to China because it is so important here. But, the love for
education is still lacking. Education is almost a sport
here.........but not a passion.
I want to be the kind of teacher that makes it a passion. I want to be
the kind of teacher that breathes the fire into kids..........that
makes them believe and makes them constantly want more!!!

Man, that movie messed me up! But, mostly in a good way.

Email I Sent....

On 2/13/12...........

Hello to my family peeps and other peeps.....

I've been in China for a month! Can you believe it? I can't.
Seriously, this has to be the strangest thing I have ever done.
Here are some of the things that have been happening lately.....

The Chinese government did not like my American health check. It was
translated to me as: We don't want to take for granted what American
doctor say.
So, today I had to go to the hospital in China to get another health
check. The school here paid for it, but it cost 336RMB to get a
sonogram, an xray, four blood tests, urine test, ekg, ear, nose, eye
and so forth......
I don't know the exact amount....but, I do know that it cost less than
$100 to get all that done!!!!!! WOW!
On a side note, this high altitude makes my blood drip SO SLOW! The
nurse had to take blood from my hand and she kept having to move the
needle around to get the blood flowing again. It hurt. It was not
awesome. (I don't know if it is really the altitude, but that was
Andrew's guess)
The other teachers here are Chinese....so, pretty much no one
understands me. I miss the English language something awful.
I sat in on another class the other day....the teacher was teaching
them some vocabulary. He said, "this is a re-sip." The word was
recipe. He kept calling it a re-sip. So, during the break he asked me
what I thought...I said, "it seems to be going really well. Good
class. Oh, by the way, it is re-sip-ee."
He said, "are you sure? Or is that just how they say it in America?"
"No. I'm pretty sure that is how you say it just about everywhere."
"I will have to check. That might just be in America."
"Ummmmm...I don't think so. But, okay. Thank you for inviting me to your class."
About an hour later he came and found me in my office. He apologized
for not believing me because he looked it up on the Internet and I was
right.................
So. Yeah.
There is one little girl that comes to my reading time. Her name is
Emily. She is so cute. She speaks pretty good English for how young
she is.....I think she is 6.
She is my biggest fan. If I say I like something....it is suddenly her
favorite thing too. She brought me chocolates yesterday. Cause we were
reading a story that had chocolate in it and I asked the kids if they
liked chocolate....they said yes and I said I did too. The next thing
I know....Emily brings me chocolate. :)
I have a picture of myself and Tiffani Mills on my desk. :) Emily came
in and saw it yesterday. She said, "Who is that?"
"My friend, Tiffani."
"How come she has the blue eyes and you has the green eyes?"
"Because sometimes people have different colored eyes."
"Okay. But, how come for-ing-ders has the blue eyes and green eyes and
Chinese peoples has the brown and the black eyes?"
"I don't know how to explain that."
"Why?"
"Well, because I'm not really sure. But, I don't know how to explain
what I do know so that you can understand me."
"Why?"
"Because."
"Okay. I know. It okay."
Ugh. She is so cute. She also saw a picture of Sidney and asked me who
she was. I told her that is my niece, Sidney. "What is a niece." "She
is my sister's daughter." "What? Why?"
I thought about it later......because of the one child rule....these
kids don't really have cousins and aunts and uncles. The rich people
can have more kids cause you really just have to pay more taxes, but
still......maybe I can come up with a lesson about family members to
go with one of my subjects. :)
Oh. Everyone here wears skinny jeans and leggings as pants. So, I'm
kind of in hell. LOL. But, you know what is really strange? Seeing
grandmas in skinny jeans and UGGS. That is so weird!!!!!!!! Not all
the little old ladies wear skinny pants. But, a whole lot of them do!
I really need to start taking my camera around with me. I haven't been
taking nearly enough pictures.

Love and miss you all!!!!!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Life?

This was written on 2/11/12.....

So....now I've been in China for a month. You still don't get to know
that yet. I'm trying to fix that!!! I want so much to share this with
you guys. I want to be able to look at the Internet like I'm used
to..................BUT! They moved me in with a host family. They
didn't give me my own place. So, the family already had the Internet.
I couldn't get the foreigner Internet. So, I have to come up with a
new plan.
I'm working on it.
I've been teaching for about two weeks now. But, this next week will
be the first time I meet all my classes. They aren't really my classes
though. I've been teaching a class on Tues/Sat that is a bunch of 8-11
year olds. Their teacher just had a baby. So, they have me until she
comes back in May.
My schedule looks something like this.........but, again, this next
week will be the first time I've done all of it-
Monday- Teach two hours of one teacher's class.
Tuesday- Read for an hour in the library (which I have been doing. And
it has been fun....for the most part). Then I teach two hours of the
class I have been teaching.
Wednesday- Off
Thursday- Read for an hour in the library.
Friday- Read for an hour in the library and then teach two hours of
another teacher's class. That is three different classes so
far........that is a lot of names to learn. LOL.
Saturday- Read for an hour in the morning. Do stuff in my office.
(They gave me an office with a pretty great view. Except today. It is
pretty windy and the dust has made the sky so thick and dirty
looking....I can't see the mountains as well. Then I teach two hours
of yet another class! Then lunch. Then a FOUR HOUR CLASS of the kids I
see on Tuesday. Yeah. Four hours of trying to get them to understand
me.
Sunday- Hour of library. 2 hour class (more names to learn). Afternoon
hour in the library.
WHEW! The past two weeks has been the library hours on the Tues/Sat class.
This is hard. It doesn't feel like real life or a new life. But, it
has only been a month. I should try to be more patient. But, I
honestly thought these kids would know a bit more English. And some of
them do!
But, to give you an example.....my lesson on Saturday was about
summaries. The book instructed me to teach them to summarize stories
like the one we had just read....and to create some other examples for
them to summarize.
Right. Cool. I mean, you would expect them to be able to communicate
some.....wouldn't you???
Most of them can't tell me what they had for breakfast.
So, this is harder than I thought. That's all.
The family they put me with is super nice! But, the mom and son don't
speak much English. And the nanny can only say 'hi' and 'bye-bye.'
There is only one other native English speaker teaching here. The rest
of the teachers are Chinese. So, I don't hear the English language
much anymore. :) But, I've learned a few more words in Chinese.
So....that is pretty cool!
I hope you all are well. I miss your faces. And your voices. :D

Year of the Dragon

This was written on 1/22/12...

What a celebration! And this is only day two! *sigh* I'm sorry you guys won't get to read these until long after it happened. SO ANNOYING!

But, anyway......yesterday was day one of the Spring Festival. The fireworks started going off at about 10am. They sound like gunfire. People can buy fireworks of any size and set them off just about anywhere.......including in between apartment buildings! That is a crazy sight. And......looks like a serious fire hazard. AND you get hit with debris when you're walking down the street. :)
At about 5pm the fireworks started getting REALLY LOUD. It sounded like a war broke out in the area. I can't even imagine what it sounds like in the big cities.
We went out at about 8pm. We stopped to buy fireworks and then stopped to watch various displays as we waited for a taxi. The fireworks are everywhere! In every direction there is something going on and the colors are all beautiful and vibrant.
We met up with a bunch of people at the Jinshan Temple and Park. My guide for the night was a girl named Nicole. She was there with her cousin (who didn't have an English name and I could never get his Chinese name right. I caused a lot of giggling.) Nicole instructed me on how to buy incense so that I could make my wish for the new year. All the bundles of incense seemed so big! But, I chose a sort of middle size and paid the man. He handed me two candles and the incense, which I took with my right hand. He grabbed them out of my hand and handed me the candles to the right and the incense to the left. I was confused.
We walked to an area in front of the first temple....there was a bonfire made out of the discarded incense and two tower things of candles. Nicole explained that you were to light your candles with the right hand and then use them to light the incense with the left hand. She said you had to hold the incense with the left hand because the right hand was used to kill the meat you eat. It wasn't holy or something.........I couldn't remember to keep it out of my right hand. So, I hope that doesn't mean I ruined my wish!
She told us that we had to bow three times in each direction. Starting with the east, then south...ending with the north. Each bow we needed to repeat our wish (or you could pray). She said that some people will do this all night. Just keep going in circles. But, since we were only wishing...and not praying....we only had to do it once.
So, I did! But, I'm not going to tell you what I wished for........
Then we threw our incense on the bonfire and went to a tower thing that is some kind of well. Nicole told me to try and throw a coin in and if I make it....make my wish again and rub the tower. So, did that....and then we walked into the first temple. Nicole told me to take off my hat and bow before Buddha three times and say a prayer.
"That's okay. Thank you. I don't have anything to pray for."
Cousin: "You must pray so that the Chinese god can forgive you."
"Forgive me for what?"
Cousin: "FOR NOT BEING CHINESE!"
So, I knelt down and said, "sorry I'm not Chinese. Happy New Year."
Then we walked into another temple and I became totally "interested" in what the monks were doing......to avoid more kneeling and more apologizing. I also didn't want to take my hat off again. I mean....people are already staring at me! Why give them hat hair? :D
Then we walked outside the temple and park grounds to light off fireworks galore!
It was such a fun night. I came home a bit earlier than everyone else......but, I'm also the "old" one in the group. LOL. Well, I am about 10 years older than everyone.......but that isn't why I came home. I don't have the money (or the desire) to be in a bar until 3 or 4am. Does that make me old? Smarter with my money? Normal? Who knows.......
This morning the fireworks started just after 7am. They have calmed down now, but I bet after people are done eating lunch....BOOM BOOM BOOM!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

So.....

This was written on 1/18/12...

People stop and stare. They stop in the middle of the street and sometimes point at me. Sometimes it is funny. Especially when I'm walking around the city with Nick. The girls here will stop and sometimes run into things while staring at him. He told me that he caused an accident once.
My favorite is the confused look from the men....like they can't decide what I am. And my favorite from the women- this has happened twice....women will stop and put a protective hand on their child while watching me walk by. LOL! What am I going to do to the children? Seriously. So funny.
And, I'll admit, slightly unnerving. Hee hee.

FOOD! Food! food!

This was written on 1/18/12...

The first thing they fed me in China: McDonald's. The second thing they fed me in China: Rice and chicken. The third thing they fed me in China: McDonald's. So.........EW. I've now had McDonald's in the US, Paris, Shanghai, and Zhenjiang........and I've decided that it is GROSS ALL OVER THE WORLD. :)
They fed us so much on the plane and then McDonald's twice on day two....I was still full on day three and had a piece of bread. Literally. I couldn't even think about eating. I felt like I was going to explode.
So, on day four.....Nick took me to get something to eat. I had pork curry. It just about blew my mind. People told me that the food here would be different than I'm used to...........and they weren't kidding. It is lighter, flavor punches you in the face, and it all seems so simple. Fantastic and simple.
But, everything here is dirty. So, I do miss that about Chinese restaurants at home. They look like they get cleaned.......
Then, day five, Nick and I went to meet up with a teacher that was visiting from another city. We stopped for lunch at a hole in the wall type place. I had a plate of white rice covered in fried eggs and tomato chunks. SO GOOD. You guys, SO GOOD!
Zhenjiang is famous for black vinegar......it is pretty tasty. :) It goes great on rice and eggs.
That night........that night......something horrible happened. I ate my first weird thing. I don't really want to talk about it. I can't even type this without remembering how much I wanted to throw up. LOL.
I'll just give you the list of foods I ate. You can decide which one made me want to hurl.
Ready?
Tofu Skin, Potatoes, Something that sort of looked like cucumber, Duck Blood, Boiled Bread, Ginger, and Seaweed.

Well, two of those things made my tummy angry...........but, only one of them made my tummy REALLY ANGRY. I'm sure you can guess which.....now I'm done talking about it.
Today (January 18th) I had a bowl of noodles from a side of the road type place. Like....they boil the noodles in a big thing on the side of the road. ADVENTURE!

I don't know when you guys will get to read this.....hopefully just after the first of February. By then...I will probably have more food to talk about. :)

Leaving America

This was written on 1/18/12...

I got to LA on Monday night. It was the 9th of January. Lorrisa picked me up at the airport...we didn't get very far before we had to turn around and go back to the airport and pick up another friend. :)
Then Lorissa took me over to IO West. I got to watch Tilt play! It was a great night.
On Tuesday, Tiffani took me over the Chinese Consulate to turn in my paper work for my visa. TALK ABOUT CUTTING IT CLOSE! Man, that whole visa thing was freaking me out. But, when we actually got to the consulate, it was a pretty simple process. They took my passport and my papers and asked me when I was coming back. I said tomorrow....she filled out a form and told me to bring it back tomorrow and pay.
THEN............WE WENT TO DISNEYLAND! Greg met us there. Magic. Magic. Magic. Magic. What a great way to say goodbye to America. My favorite place....some of my favorite people!
We had such a good day! The World of Color show is AMAZING! You guys......please go, if you haven't. AMAZING.
Then, on Wednesday, Joey came to get me. He took me back to the consulate to get my visa. SEE?!?! Some of my favorite people live in California. :) It was so good to see Joey. We had a great Greek lunch. Then we just hung out. Just talked. Laughed. Good times.
That night I HAD MY LAST BURRITO. Oh, sad day. LOL. I shall miss the burrito something fierce. Tiffani, Lorissa and I went to eat. It was lovely. I'm very grateful for my fantastic friends. You guys are all amazing. I hope you know that.....

K. So, Thursday came. It was time to go. *sigh* Tiffani took me to the airport on Thursday morning. I'll make this part short. It was a 14 hour flight. That is a looooooooong time. :) But, the funny part was.......I knew someone on the flight! Rob, a guy I went to church with for a while in Texas (Chase Oaks), was on the flight! He was going to Shanghai to visit his girlfriend. That was a nice surprise.
I arrived in Shanghai on Friday at about 8pm. Not a nice surprise= No one was there to get me. After about an hour.....I started to panic. I turned on my Blackberry, PRAYING, that it would still work. (I had called in California and shut off my service). They hadn't shut it off yet......so, my email still worked. I had an email from Shirley asking what time I arrived on Sunday. I don't know why, but she didn't think I was getting in until Sunday. I responded and told her I had been at the airport for about an hour. LUCKILY, she was sitting next to her computer. She and I emailed back and forth until we made a plan. She reserved me a hotel room in Shanghai. I took a cab there. My first night in China was not awesome. It was a pretty creepy hotel.
A girl named Vanessa came to get me the next day. We took the train to Zhenjiang.
Then...another not so nice surprise: I was told I was staying in Zhenjiang until the end of the month. I will arrive in my "home" city on the 30th. (You guys probably won't read this until after the 30th.....cause blogger doesn't work over here. I have to get a special kind of Internet)
So, I'm staying in an apartment with a teacher from England and a teacher from Scotland. Nick and Terri. They are awesome. This apartment is not. LOL. Everything is broken. But, technically, they said they would provide housing.....it doesn't say how great the housing is......*sigh*
I keep reminding myself that I signed up for this on purpose. LOL.
So, I'm here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dear America...

Hi. I'm leaving. I'll be gone for a while...I'm not really sure how long. At least a year. But, don't worry! I have a to-do list for you...to keep you busy while I'm gone.

1. Get rid of Jersey Shore. Seriously.
2. Bring back "Dead Like Me."
3. Make MTV play music videos again, or make them change the name. They are not Music Television anymore.
4. Get rid of the obsession with the Kardashians. Is that possible? Let's make that possible.
5. Make the speed limit 75-80.......IN EVERY STATE! COME ON! You know we are all driving that fast anyway. (Or we want to)
6. Lower the price of milk. PLEASE.
7. Ummmm......I should probably make some sort of political statement. So.....follow Yoda's advice. He said it best.
8. Is there a job that will pay me to read and watch TV all the time? Have that waiting for me. Oh. And graduate school. I would like to be paid to read, watch TV, go to movies and go to college all the time. So...make that happen and email me when it is ready.
9. I should probably say something else about you fixing the government. FIX IT!
10. Look, I have serious pop culture problems. And I'm a geek. So, work really hard on number 8. Thanks.

I guess that is all. I'll see you in a year or two.

Leah