Makenzi and I are leaving for Qingdao for National Week! I will return in a week!
The morning started off ok. I had all of my things for class, but as soon as I got to the college, I realized I forgot one of my materials. So, I had to run back to the apartments, shoot up the stairs, race back down, and jump on my e-bike to get back to class within the ten minute break. As I was turning the last corner to the building, I leaned a little too far and the bike slid out from underneath me. I scraped up my knee, but I still had to get to class. I made it through both morning classes and then came back to the apartments to assess the damage. It is enough to say that my knee will not look pretty anytime in the near future. My concern is about travelling around Qingdao with a scraped knee. I think it will be ok, but wading in the water is pretty much out of the question now. Too bad, since that would be nice to do that. Perhaps I will return to Qingdao in the spring or go to another coastal city later in the year.
After dressing my wound, I rested for all of the afternoon. At six, I met up with Makenzi, Jason, Shawn, Nancy, Jenny, Delia, and Cindy to celebrate Jenny and Nancy's birthdays. We went to a restaurant downtown and enjoyed lots of delicious foods. For her birthday, Nancy had birthday wishes for all of us. Makenzi had to sing "Happy Birthday" in English, I was supposed to sing it in Japanese, but since I do not know it, she took a raincheck whilst I learn. Jason has to draw something, and Shawn has to write a story for Nancy. Jason and I had brought presents for both Jenny and Nancy, so we gave those and I think they enjoyed them.
After dinner, we went to the grocery store in the basement of the mall. I bought a couple things...WHICH INCLUDED CHEESE!!! Out of all the things that I could miss from home (food-wise), I have missed cheese the most. I did not get cheese at KFC, and Makenzi said hers was American cheese (meh). If I get desperate enough, I think going to KFC will have to do. Unless this cheese tastes ok. I also miss Italian food, Tex-Mex, steak, and Dr. Pepper.
The concert in Jining has been cancelled, which means Makenzi and I could have left on Sunday for Qingdao, but I think having an extra day to prepare and get some things done, like grading, will be beneficial.
Overall, an interesting day that started off painful and hectic, but ended with good company and good food. And cheese.
Which would have been much more frustrating, coming close to impossible, if Peter had not helped me. I went with him to go buy my tickets to Qingdao for the vacation. Apparently there are no direct trains on Monday, which is the day I wanted to leave, but there was one for Sunday night. It would have cost 300 yuan ($50) one way, meaning a round trip would have been about 600 yuan. Way too much for me. But also, on Sunday, there is the concert in Jining, and I do not know what time we would be returning from that, so Sunday was out. As it turns out, there was a train to Jinan, that would then go on to Qingdao. According to Peter, I just have to tell the conductor (or rather show him/her a piece of paper that Peter will write) that explains Makenzi and I would like to continue to Qingdao and pay for the extra trip. Although I understand the process, I really don't get it. But that is China for you. I just really hope Makenzi and I do not take someone else's seats for the second part of the journey and then have to panic about trying to explain our presence. I think that will be an experience all by itself. In total, my tickets cost 240 yuan, but that does not include the trip from Jinan to Qingdao, which I think will be about 200. So, I spent a little more than I wanted on tickets, but I figured eating ramen and mantou for the rest of the month will be a worthwhile compromise for a trip to "the beautiful, seaside city of Qingdao," according to my students.
I do have many students from Qingdao and many are returning home for the week. They all volunteered to help us if we need, so I will be carrying around their numbers, just in case something happens and we need a translator.
I feel a little guilty that I got upset with Peter at the ticket store, since he was only trying to help and to get the best tickets for me. But language barriers and my slow process of learning the Chinese language got the better of me earlier. I just felt so helpless and confused since I could nothing but stand there and wait for Peter and the ticket lady to finish talking and for him to translate whatever she said. I did apologize, so at least that was a start to make up for my actions.
I am very excited to travel outside of Qufu and to see the coast. From what the guys said, no one actually swims in the water, but maybe I will take my swimsuit and just wade in the water a little. If I come back with superhuman legs, then I will know to not swim in Chinese waters again...
Train ticket store front.
The Mid-Autumn Festival was a lot of fun! I stayed here in Qufu and the weekend was jam-packed with activities!
On Thursday, I went for a small bike ride to the mall by myself. I just wanted to see more of it and have some time to window shop. I found a couple nice shirts that were on sale, so I bought them. After that, I came back to the apartments and rested before going out with Makenzi, Shawn, and Jason. We met up with some English graduate students named Cindy, Jenny, and Nancy. All of them were very nice and very eager to speak English and help us learn a little Chinese.
With them, we walked around downtown, into the old, walled city, and went to the Confucian gardens again.
We took "penny cabs" to the gardens. Penny cabs are just little carts stuck on the back of e-bikes. They are inexpensive and a decent way to travel around quickly without having to hail a taxi. The gardens were still beautiful, but I think they were not as nice as the first time I went. We did, however, see different parts of the gardens and different views of places I had been before.
I like this picture because you can see in the foreground a traditional building, but behind it is a new, modern hotel. Like Japan, the China has done what it can to hold on to its traditional roots, but is also moving forward into a new age.
After walking around town and through the gardens, everyone was hungry, so we decided to get some dinner. We decided on Korean barbecue.
All of the food cost each of us 25 yuan (about $3.50). We walked around afterwards to burn off some of the calories we had just consumed. Because it was the Mid-Autumn Festival and the moon was full, it was very bright out and was a pleasant evening to be out with good friends. The circle in the middle of the picture is the moon.
There are many activities for people to do here in Qufu. Every night, many women like to do social dance classes. They are almost like Chinese square dances, but with pop music. The women looked like they were having fun and it seems like a great way to do low-impact exercise. Maybe I will look into it for my exercise.
Walking back took about 30 minutes, but we got to see fireworks go up from behind a building.
Coming back onto campus, we heard some music playing and decided to investigate. Turns out some students were having a singing and dancing party. They had a PA system set up as well as a stage where people could perform songs. Most of the performances were pretty good and very exciting, notwithstanding the fact that I had no idea what they were saying.
At this point, I was exhausted and we said goodbye to the grad students. We walked to the apartments and I think all of us fell asleep the moment we each got into our beds.
The next day Makenzi, Shawn, Jason, and I decided to go try the KFC. We all took our e-bikes and travelled the 10 minutes there. The KFC here is different than those in the US. For one, there are burgers and other kinds of things on the menu that are not found in the US.
We walked around downtown some more and went into a small off-the-road area where there was an art store. Jason bought some supplies and we headed back to campus. As I have mentioned, the freshmen have military training and they were doing something on the field. After Jason put his purchases in his room, he and I went go check it out. All of the freshmen were on the field, just hanging out. But, in the middle of the field, there were about 30 people learning how to fold and unfold blankets. As we watched, each person unfolded the blanket, shook it out, and then proceeded to fold it up again in a very specific manner. After they were checked by the unit leaders, most of them sat around doing nothing and played on their phones.
I tried to take a panorama of the field, so the picture is very small. But all the people on the field are freshmen. I think all 4,000 of them were on the field, in their units, which I found out are done by which college they are entering.
After a while, Shawn, Nancy, Jenny, and Cindy joined us and we met up with more of their friends. We decided to go get something to drink out the east gate, so we went to get some boba tea or some milk drinks. I wanted boba, but I there was a misunderstanding and I ended up getting a milk drink. It was chocolate and tasted almost like lukewarm hot chocolate. Jason got a drink with jelly pieces in it and Nancy got a boba. We all sat in the cafe and enjoyed our drinks and the company.
When we returned to campus, we noticed that the freshmen were in the Confucius courtyard. We went to check it. It was a rehearsal for the performances the next day. These girls were performing a dance. I really liked their outfits and the music.
The freshmen waiting.
After a quick break at the apartment, I met up with everyone again and we went to dinner here on campus. We ate at a restaurant near the apartments in the international hall. We had málàtàng, which was where we got to pick what we wanted out of a cooler and the chef boiled it in a broth. We then got to pick out a sauce with spices and eat it.
I had no idea what I was putting in my bowl. I think there were some pork rolls, fish cakes, spinach (?), tofu, noodles, eggplant, and something like Japanese aburaage, or deep-fried soybean balls. All of it was very good and I liked it a lot. I will have to go back, since it only costs 18 yuan ($3).
This was the sauce. Again, I have no idea what it was, but I also put some spice in it, and it gave the whole bowl a nice kick. After dinner, we all came back to the apartments, since two days of many activities made all of us very tired.
I spent most of Saturday in the apartment alone. I needed some time to recuperate and to make my lesson plans for this week. Around dinner time Matt came and asked if I wanted to go get something to eat. We ended up outside the North Gate at the same place I had gone to with Micheal. This noodle bowl was what I ordered. It was cold noodles with cucumber slices, tomato, and soybeans in a sauce. I really liked it. It was 7 yuan (about $1).
Once we finished, we went back on campus and Matt went back to the apartments. I decided to check out the freshmen festival, and found that it had already started. I got there maybe a little before halfway. I was off to the side and had to stand on my tip-toes to see the stage. The performances varied from dance groups, to singing, to gymnastics, and traditional readings of Confucius. The groups that performed on stage alternated with the colleges of freshmen singing their college songs. Each college has a specific song that they sing every year and the incoming freshmen perform them.
After about 15 minutes of being on the side, I ran into a friend of Beatrice (one of the liaisons here). She took me to the front table and I GOT A FRONT ROW SEAT for the rest of the festival!!! I was so grateful to her! I went from this mediocre view to being able to see everything!
My view from the front row table!!!
I had so much fun at the show and I was very fortunate for running into Beatrice's friend/colleague.
Sunday came around and I had to teach classes. They went ok, but I did not get as much done as I had hoped, so I am still behind in two of my Speaking classes. Hopefully we will catch up this Friday. I got a call from Quinn, the girl Jason and I met in the Confucius courtyard, and she told me she had lunch for her and me. I met up with her after class and we sat in a nice park on campus and ate a different kind of jianbing. She had brought some of the wrappings from her hometown when she went there for the break. She bought some fillings from one of the dining halls on campus and we made our own jianbing. The filling on the left is a tofu dish and the one on the right is fried and seasoned potatoes. It was different than the ones I buy from the other vendors, but they were still very good and I think I like the wrapping that Quinn brought more than the ones from the vendors. She also had rice milk drinks for us. Mine had corn in it and was very good. We also ate peanuts (the blue and white bag at the bottom of the picture).
Sunday evening Makenzi and I went out the North Gate to get some noodles. We ran into a student who had come to my class earlier that day. His name is Peter. He joined us for dinner and it worked out ok, because he helped us order our food. My dish that I picked out is thus far my favourite. It has sweet onions, carrots, beef pieces, and bell peppers over shaved noodles. The sauce was excellent, but oily. I need to remember the name of it so I can recognize it if I see it at another restaurant.
Yesterday, Monday, passed without much excitement. In my Speaking classes, we did shopping in America, so I showed them the Mall of America and Bloomingdale's. We also did a brief culture lesson on American currency and I brought in some money. I think they liked that. We also did some role-playing with some clothes that I brought in as well. We worked on adjectives and learning about how shopping transactions usually take place in America. Here in China there is a bargaining culture, but I told them that in America there really is no bargaining culture. The only way to pay a lower price is with coupons or if there are sales and other formal discounts.
After classes, Peter called me and I ended up spending some time talking with him about various things. Although he is a Chinese language and literature major, his English is very good, and he is very interested in Western philosophy. He tried to talk about philosophy with me, but since my knowledge in that field is limited, we ended up talking about other things such as the advantages and disadvantages of American politics compared to Chinese politics. We got hungry and decided to get food at the dining hall. I got these jiaozi. The fried ones were just meat, but the others had meat and carrots in them. In total they cost 2 yuan (about 30 cents).
I was still hungry, but I needed to get back to finish up some lesson plans, so I bought these. They are a fried bread wrapping with tofu, green onions, other green vegetables, eggplant, potatoes, and a sauce. It was pretty good and cost 4.5 yuan (about 70 cents).
Nothing really exciting happened today. I just went to my writing class. We reviewed pre-writing, brainstorming, and making an outline. We also started to talk about narratives and what kinds of events in a life are very memorable. This evening I went shopping and picked up these Pringles. They are "Finger Licking Braised Pork Flavor." I think I liked the other ones better.
Overall, a very action-packed weekend and start to the week. Next week is National Week and I would like to go to Qingdao. Many of my juniors are from there, so I might get them to help me buy a ticket and figure out how to get around the city. Makenzi might go with me, so she and I need to start making plans. Sorry for such a long post, but hopefully the number of pictures shows just how much I have done in the past five days.
So, as promised, I will try to explain the Mid-Autumn Festival.
From what I have gathered from students, it is a time to show thanks and unity amongst family and friends. The festival is to celebrate the harvest and give thanks for the crops, but also to offer prayers for a prosperous rest of the year. These prayers are also for family well-being, finding a spouse or beginning a relationship, and/or good fortune.
The actual date is tomorrow, so there will be celebrations here in Qufu. I originally wanted to go out of town for the holiday, but because National Week is coming up (and is longer), I have decided to save my money for that. I am sure there will be fireworks and gatherings all throughout town tomorrow, so some of us might just explore around town.
This festival is also to celebrate the full moon, which will be tomorrow. There is a legend about a moon goddess, Chang'e, who is the goddess of immortality. The festival is to offer thanks to her in hopes of good fortune and longevity (along with all the other things). There is a bit about a rabbit in the moon who accompanies the goddess, but I have found very little about it. Maybe my students were just sucking up to my partiality for rabbits and added it to the story to make me more excited for the festival.
Apart from the festivities, people also gather together to observe the full moon. Since it is a circle, the idea is that it represents unity and has important significance for families, lovers, and friends.
So, this is the box that I got from Zero. He thought the box was "beautiful" and that a girl should have it, since no guy in the apartment wanted it. The cakes in this one were large and had a lot of an in them. I forget the actual Chinese word, but the Japanese word works just as well. It was a red bean paste in the centre of a baked pastry. There are others that have a white an in them, and others still that have another kind of centre.
It is customary for friends and family to share and enjoy the mooncakes together whilst observing the moon and during the festivities.
This box was from Andy. Each teacher got a box.
These are the packages inside the box. Inside each of these is eight mooncakes.
The packaging for each mooncake looks like this.
And this is a mooncake. It has a flaky outside...
...and an an inside. These were much sweeter than the ones I had with Zero, and I think they had nuts in them. Regardless, they were very good.
I am very much looking forward to tomorrow and experiencing this festival. Hopefully I will learn more about the rabbit in the moon and be able to offer thanks to it for a good rest of the year.
Firstly, my condolences to those affected by the Navy Yard shooting. Hearing about the flooding in Colorado and having to worry about that was enough, but hearing about something like this from across the globe is another experience in and of itself.
My week has started off ok. Teaching this week has been more of a challenge, since I am starting to have to come up with more engaging and interesting things for the students. I have learned that this is not always easy. It takes a lot of creative thought to make sure that the materials covered in class are interesting but that the students are getting something constructive out of it.
But, on the bright side, this week is the mid-autumn festival. I will post a blog tomorrow explaining it in more detail, but for now, it means no school Thursday or Friday. Bad news: I have to make up my Friday class on Sunday. Yep. Since classes here are only once a week, those that are missed because of a holiday or day off of school must be made up at a later time. It kind of sucks. But c'est la vie...or however that would be said in Chinese.
On that note, my Chinese classes are very difficult. Because there are Russians, Poles, Koreans, and Tajiks in the class along with us Americans, the only common language is Chinese. So, we are learning Chinese from teachers speaking and teaching in Chinese. It makes very little sense and what I have gotten out of classes has only been a couple words every now and then. Nonetheless, I will preserver and I am hoping that by the end of December I will be able to walk into a restaurant and order something by not pointing to a picture.
The freshmen have been doing some hand-to-hand combat training, so I hear them shouting and practicing. They will be in training for probably another week before they start classes. Every night for the past week there has also been rehearsal for a performance or something. Most of the people in the choir are freshmen, so I imagine it is for a ceremony ending their training and welcoming them into the university officially. Maybe. More updates later.
I went out the other night on my own for dinner and again, just pointed to something on the wall. I was brought this bowl with a bunch of things in it. I think it had some vegetables, noodles, chicken, flat pieces of noodles, and a really good broth. I really liked it, especially the broth, so I will be getting it again when I venture out for more food.
I have no idea what I am doing for the Mid-Autumn Festival, but I would like to go somewhere outside of Qufu. I have thought about going to Jinan and just spending a couple days there, but it depends on if I can find train tickets and what they cost.
Bonus picture of one of the stray cats that lives around the apartment. I like this one the best, since it just chills around the apartment, but if you throw a piece of meat towards it, it will pounce on it, snatch it up, and run away. But then 5 minutes later it wanders back, looking smug and casual, but it knows that there is more meat to be had. And it works...I ended up giving it half of my hot dog...
This is my e-bike. It gets up to maybe 15 miles an hour. It does not go very fast, but I still like to ride it around and feel the wind in my hair. I need to get a new battery because I can only take it out for about an hour before it starts to fade and manually pedaling the bike becomes faster than using the battery.
If you look carefully under the basket (which is rusting and falling apart, there is a headlight. Yes, it is broken. But it still works. I just need to buy some duct tape and fix it. The rest of the bike is also in a less-than-perfect condition, but it works. Almost everyone in the apartment building has bought an e-bike, so soon we will be riding down the street as an American e-bike gang going to a KTV or to the mall.
The grey box under the seat is the battery. The seat folds up, so I can get the battery out and take it into my apartment. There is a key for the battery, which obviously turns it on and off. There is also a switch on the handlebar to turn the whole bike on and off. The kickstand is nice, since it lifts the back wheel off the ground completely and folds up when the bike is pushed forwards.
There are some standards for riding an e-bike. The first is that no one wear a helmet. And I mean no one. I do not even think they sell them in the stores. Maybe at the mall they have some, but nowhere else. The second is that girls and women here will use these oven mitt-looking things to cover their hands. For what I gather, they are to protect one's hands from debris and dust and in the wintertime, to block out some of the cold. The latter makes sense, but the former just seems weird to me. Women also wear these full face visors that protect against wind and dust. They are perfectly useful and practical, but they look really funny. They are almost like riot police visors, but are tinted to protect from the sun. Third, if a woman is wearing a short sleeve shirt or a nice shirt that she does not want to get dirty, she will wear a long sleeve shirt backwards over her front to cover herself. Again, it has a practical purpose, but it looks amusing to me. Men, on the other hand, do not have to do any of these things. They can ride around with their hands exposed, their faces exposed to the sun, and wearing clothes normally. I am sure I stick out, since I ride without any protective coverings.
On the back of my bike is an extra seat. Sometimes, I see people use it for books or a package, but most other times, I see another person sitting there. Couples will use the same bike to go someplace, or parents with their children will be on the same bike. Parents with infants who cannot hold onto to them will buy booster seats that fit onto the back of the bike and the parents can travel around that way with their child. The back seat comes in handy, but it makes driving and controlling the bike a little difficult. At least until one becomes used to it.
Overall, my e-bike is wonderful and so convenient. In many ways, I wish these would gain popularity in America because they do not use gas for energy, are convenient for some short distance travel, and most importantly, are a lot of fun to ride!
An interesting week to say the least. Sorry for not posting anything during the week. I will do my best to describe daily events in a succinct manner.
Saturday: Makenzi and I decided to wander around town. She bought a few things and I bought an umbrella. I was surprised to find an umbrella with Japanese kana on it, but it had rabbits and was cheap, so I got it.
Shawn showed up and we went out for a dinner with him. Because of all of our limited speaking abilities, we have resorted to pointing to pictures and hoping for the best. There was some confusion when the dishes started coming out, but in the end, we all ended up with our orders. As usual, it was all very good.
Sunday: I got an e-bike! I went with Matt to a store and they had a bike for 600 yuan. It rode decently and I thought it was nice. So I bought it. E-bikes are amazing. I wish they were more popular in the US. One can use it as a manual bike or just sit back and relax as it goes along. The battery is heavy though. It weighs about 25 pounds. So, every time I want to use my bike, I have to lug it up and down four flights of stairs. To say the least, I will come home with very toned arms.
Monday started with speaking class, which did not turn out as good as I had hoped it to be. I forgot that the computers in the college building are not equipped with the latest Microsoft Office edition, so my presentation did not work. During the ten minute break, I sprinted back to my apartment, rushed up the stairs, quickly converted the file, flew down the stairs, and biked like I was part of the Tour de France back to the college. I made it in time, but I was sweating heavily and out of breath. My students thought it was funny to see their teacher frazzled, but they listened to my lecture and tried to follow along. I had planned to use poetry to help with pronunciation, but it turned into learning about rhyming words. Ironically, the students understood a Shakespearean sonnet over Shel Silverstein. I was not expecting that. After two speaking classes, I ended up taking a long nap and prepared for my writing class. Dinner consisted of baozi that I found in the supermarket. I wrap them in a damp paper towel and put them in the microwave. They are actually tasty pretty good and are inexpensive.
Tuesday: The writing class was great! After going over the syllabus, (which we had not done last week) I introduced the basic five paragraph essay, what an essay is, and we did exercises to understand topic sentences, supporting sentences, and concluding sentences. Overall, I thought it was a good lesson.
I had to buy tissues. There is only one store that I know of so far that sells these tissues. I think I will be returning to them when I need more...
Wednesday: So, we finally got the schedule of Chinese language courses that we could take. Since I could go to a class today, I went to a reading class. Turns out the class is taught entirely in Chinese. This is because there are people from Russia, Tajikistan, Poland, Korea, and America in the class. The university cannot cater to one language or another, so they teach the courses in Chinese. In the two hours of class, I recognized maybe six words. I have a lot of catching up to do...Afterwards, I went to my writing class, which was ok.
Today was also Teachers Day. It is a day where the students show their appreciation to their teachers. Although I did not get anything from one of my classes, I did receive a flower and card from another class. I thought it was very nice of them to do that.
Turns out today is also the welcome ceremony for the freshmen. Here in China it is compulsory to do military training upon entering university. The freshmen (all 4,000 of them) sat on the track field and listened to many speeches from professors and other faculty. The president of the college also gave a speech, in which he quoted Confucius quite often. The color guard did a flag raising ceremony and Nadzehda gave a speech for all of us foreign language teachers.
In the evening, I hung out with Jason in the Confucius courtyard. A girl came up to us and started talking to us in English. For being a psychology major, her English skills were very good. We talked with her for about two hours and in that time, she bought us moon cakes and Coca-Cola. It was a nice evening to be out with friends and meet new people.
The freshmen have been training all week. I can see some of them in their platoons from my window, working on how to salute, swing their arms whilst marching, marching, keeping in lines, and learning about-face. It is all very interesting. When they get a break for lunch, it is a sea of green camouflage on campus. They all carry their little stools around, along with all of their other personal items.
Thursday: Since this was my day off, I went to the Speaking class and to the Listening class. I think I confused both teachers when they saw me in the class, but eventually they figured out that I was not Chinese and included me in the class. I liked Speaking a little bit better than listening, but in both classes, I still have so much to learn and I need to play catch-up. I also had office hours for my students, but my stomach decided it did not like sitting in the office for very long and I returned to the apartment early for a quiet evening of grading papers.
Friday: So, we were told that we needed to go to the police station in order to finalize our resident cards. We were to meet at 8:30am and that our classes were cancelled and we will need to make them up later. I thought we had to go to Jining or someplace else for this process, but as it turns out we just had to go down the street. We were there on a day of promotional video creating and when Qufu city officials were inspecting the police force. It was kind of cool to see the drills and performances of some of the police officers. We finished and returned to campus in time (I thought) for my second class at 10:10. I rushed around my apartment to get my supplies and raced to the college building, but when I walked into the room, my students were surprised and said that class was supposed to be cancelled. So I returned home and have had a quiet evening grading papers and a little quiet time.
This week has definitely been fun and full of new experiences. Now for the weekend and resisting temptations to play rather than prepare a couple weeks worth of lesson plans.
I made it through my first week as a teacher. It was less stressful than the rest of the year will be, since it was mostly syllabus reading and introductions. My Friday classes were very kind and nice, but a little shy. I will have to work on gaining their trust and building their confidence. That will be my challenge.
Thursday night we also had a welcome banquet with the President of the university (I think) and the Dean of the College of Foreign Languages. We went to a really nice hotel that had a restaurant attached. The food was delicious. It is a Chinese custom to make toasts and so the President made four, the Dean made two, each Chinese teacher in attendance (six) made at least one, Andy did one, Rowena, the Russian teacher, and I each made one toast. So in total, at least sixteen toasts were made in two hours. And for each toast everyone either had a small shot of baijiu, which is rice wine, or a glass of beer. I alternated between the baijiu and peach juice. The baijiu was very good, it was sweet and crisp. Overall, a very filling, delicious meal with good company.
Last night, Matt, Mike, Jeremy, and I went out for food and for drinks. We went to a noodle restaurant that Mike had been to last year, but they had changed the menu, so we all had to point at a random option. Mike and Jeremy got very spicy noodle bowls, whilst Mat and I got tamer dishes. The bowl I got was brought out with only the broth, but also with a tray of things to add into it: chives, pork, quail egg, spices, cabbage, a prepared egg dish, and fish. I added all the things in and it was very good. After we all finished our bowls, we walked around looking for a bar. Ultimately we ended up at the international youth hostel in Qufu. We got some drinks, sat around with the bartender who is a student at Qufu, and talked some more. However, the bartender had to ask us to leave so she could close up. We left and caught a taxi back to school.
Today (Saturday), I graded essays and thought about what I should do for my first real lessons next week. I still have no idea what I am going to do. But I have to get something together for Monday, since they switched around my schedule. So, here is my new schedule:
8:00-9:50 - Speaking
10:10-12:00 - Speaking
8:00-9:50 - Extensive Reading*
10:10-12:00 - Writing
8:00-9:50 - Extensive Reading*
10:10-12:00 - Writing
I NO LONGER HAVE MY MID-WEEK BREAK.
8:00-9:50 - Speaking*
10:10-12:00 - Listening*
8:00-9:50 - Speaking
10:10-12:00 - Speaking
*These are my Chinese language classes that I will be attending. So basically, I am in a classroom every day from 8am until 12pm.
This evening one of the other American teachers, Jason, arrived in Qufu. As a nice gesture, some of us took him out to eat at one of the restaurants outside the North Gate.
Tomorrow morning I am going to go look for an e-bike (electric bike) with Matt. I hope to find one, since they seem so nice and convenient. I will be keeping my regular bike for exercise and to get from the apartments to the college building, but the e-bike will be nicer when I have to go shopping or when I want to go into town. Then I do not have to pay for a taxi or bus all the time. Granted, those are only 7 yuan and 2 yuan, respectively. But it would just be more convenient that I can get anywhere I need, whenever I need or want.
More updates on the e-bike tomorrow!
Part of the dinner table. The small glass with the clear liquid in the bottom right corner of the picture is my glass of baijiu. The larger one is peach juice. There was so much food on the table and plenty left.
Left: Noodle bowl with Matt, Mike, and Jeremy
Below: what else went into the bowl
The noodles I had tonight, welcoming Jason to Qufu.
Yesterday was yet another great day of class. I only had one speaking class with second years. When I walked in the door, everyone stopped what they were doing, looked at me and then wondered what I was doing in the class. After they saw me set down my things at the podium, they went back to what they were doing and I set up my lesson. Having learned from yesterday's mistakes about the computer, I brought my hard drive with the syllabus. As I started class, the looks on the students' faces were of confusion and curiosity. I introduced myself and then spent time going over the syllabus. Chinese students are not given syllabi by their other professors, so I had to explain what a syllabus is, and the different parts. After a quick break, I had each person in the class stand and introduce themselves. Overall, it was a nice class.
After lunch, all of us went to get our back cards. It took about an hour of all of us to finish and afterwards Mike and I wandered around Qufu and got an early dinner. I had this wrap-like thing that had meat, egg, a sauce, and lettuce in it. To me, it tasted almost like an egg sandwich that one would get at McDonalds.
When we returned to the apartments, I was tired so I went to sleep.
Today I woke up and realized I needed to go to the supermarket for supplies. I went alone, but I think some of the Chinese is sinking in. I understood what some of the store clerks were saying, such as, "Do you need help?" and "Do you need a bag?" Culture note: most supermarkets make you pay for plastic bags, so people bring their own. The price of a bag is .2 yuan. Anyway, I came back, put away all of my things and will be grading essays for the rest of the afternoon. Some of the essays are pretty good, but others are not quite so fluid. I also am referred to as "dear teacher" in at least five of them.
These are the Pringles I found in the store. I thought to try them and see what "Black Pepper Rib Eye Steak Flavor" tasted like. Turns out they are pretty good.
And the container has a handy-dandy tray which can be pulled out, for convenience.
I felt like Nemo right before the first day of school, jumping on his father, too excited to brush my teeth. I woke up before my alarm went off and started getting ready. After some small wardrobe malfunctions, I was set to go. Since Matt and I both had a class at eight, we walked over together.
The first class was great, everyone was helpful and kind. I was mostly prepared, but had to improvise some of my lesson plans. Hopefully it did not show too much with the students.
The second class was just as great and since I had changed some of the lesson plans during the break, I felt more confident about my teaching for this class.
Overall, a wonderful first day. Now for nap time and lunch.
After catching up with friends and family back home, I finished up my syllabi. I feel pretty proud of them and look forward to tomorrow.
Makenzi and I went to get some lunch (jianbing) and then Matt came over to talk about the Oral English class he and I have. After he left, I felt the great compulsion to clean. I mopped the floors, cleaned the whole kitchen and the bathroom. My bedroom was already clean, but I cleaned it again, just to make sure.
For dinner I am making zaru soba. Except I still do not have mirin or other Japanese spices, so the sauce will most likely be shoyu and sugar and a little salt. Here's to hoping it turns out ok.
I DID IT! Soba! My favorite! The sauce actually came out really good, even though I just guesstimated the amounts needed. The noodles taste like soba, but are a little different from the ones I am used to. Overall, a nice dinner before I start work!