18 September 2006

City of Blinding Lights = Shanghai

Here's a few random thoughts:
  • I now am a resident of China! Our permanent visas got processed just under the wire and I can legally stay here until July. It feels good to have that out of the way.
  • I almost got a picture of the cook feeding the leftover rice to the fish after lunch today. Almost though...I wasn't quick enough running back to my classroom to get my camera. Sad day!
  • Tomorrow we are going to try to change our middle school schedule for the third time. Now Daniel and I will both teach English at the same time. I really hope this one works because I do not have the brain power to do it again.
  • Today I received a note from a Korean parent in Chinese. I don't speak any Korean and my Chinese vocab is still hovering at around 40 words. Pathetic, I know. It's terribly frustrating to not even be able to speak with a parent. Everything goes back to communication here and I simply have little skill in that area.
  • Along those same lines, the one Chinese teacher who speaks Korean is on vacation. A prospective Korean parent came to visit our school this afternoon and didn't speak any English or Chinese. So they took my two best Korean students out of my class to translate the meeting.
  • The 'h' on my keyboard no longer feels like working, so I have to push 'hj' anytime I want an 'h' and then I have to delete the 'j'. There are many, many words in the English language that contain an 'h' and it is terribly annoying.
  • The building that housed the local internet cafe was torn down in less than a week. One day I rode past and it was normal. The next time that I noticed, the building had been completely gutted and was in the process of being torn down. Today when I went by, it was almost destroyed and some sort of new construction is beginning. It will be interesting to notice the small changes like that over the year. China is rapidly changing and I witness it every day!
  • This evening I ironed every piece of clothing I washed this weekend. I have no dryer, which is fine, but I just dry my laundry on the porch, which is a recipe for wrinkles. I'm not a huge fan of ironing and if it weren't for the whole being-a-professional-thing, I would probably never touch my iron. It is quite time consuming. I put water in my iron three times--that's how much ironing I did.
On to more exciting news...Megan, Lindsey and I went to Shanghai this weekend. Friday evening found five of us girls out to dinner for the usual decompressing/laughing time that is a memorable part of every week. It was wonderful! Saturday we got down to the train/bus station in good time. Again, no luck with train and so coach bus it was. The only eventful thing was that as we were crossing from our province into the municipality of Shanghai, some police decided to take a look around on our bus. I don't know what they were looking for, but it reminded me of crossing the border between Germany and the Czech when I was there for Interim a bit ago. We saw a lot of police this weekend, which I guess made me feel safe.
If anything, this weekend opened my eyes to the differences from one Chinese city to another. We had done a bit of research to prepare for the trip, but the weekend was really one for exploring. Upon arriving at the bus station, we navigated our way to the Metro, where we found...gummi bears!! It was the most glorious thing. I love gummi bears and it made me happy to find them in China. After a bit of confusion, we found our youth hostel. It was nice and clean and even had a nautical theme. We took a short nap and quickly discovered the beds were softer than our beds in Wuxi. Chinese beds are HARD and mine in the apartment is no exception. It was so nice to sleep in a semi-comfortable bed (it would still be classified as hard in the States, but it was soft by Chinese standards). After our catnap, we went for a night on the town. I really enjoyed being in a big city again. The atmosphere was welcoming and it was nice to be normal again. I get stared at a lot here and I usually don't mind at all, but it was nice to be out of the limelight for a weekend. There are huge amounts of Westerners in Shanghai so we were able to blend in a bit more than in Wuxi. The first stop was the Bund--a huge area right on the river. We arrived right at dusk and stayed and watched the skyscapers' lights come on. It was so cool. It kind of reminded me of the walking area on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Lots of people and lots of water. From there, we went to Nanjing Street, a pedestrian area right off the Bund. Lots of people and lots of shopping. After a great noodle dinner, we ventured, by the Metro, to the French concession. Here we found a slice of home...a nice Irish pub with Sangria. We sat on the roof and enjoyed a wonderfully cool Chinese Saturday night. [Sidenote: The weather here is great. It was warm this whole weekend with no rain and today it was sunny almost all day. Still not Colorado sunny, definitely China muggy sunny, but sunny nevertheless.]
On Sunday, we braved the crowded Metro again (I took some pretty awesome videos!) and made our way to some great shopping. We found some shops for school supplies. It was three floors of happiness. It was one of those things where I was paralyzed by the choices and ended up not getting anything because I still don't have a good grasp as to what I would use in my classroom. I figured that I've made it this far with the little amount of supplies that I have and I've faired fine, so why bother spending money. I haven't regretted that decision yet, but it's good to know what is available in China, even if we can't get it in Wuxi. The greatest excitement was the bookstore. Like Beijing, there is a foreign bookstore. Almost as good as Schuler's, but not really. I got two Elie Wiesel books, mostly because I taught Night when I student taught and I've never read his other stuff. I also got the past three editions of Newsweek and the current National Geographic. The best part was that I found the book I used to write my senior thesis. I had just read it in the library at school, but now I own a copy of John Rabe's diaries and I hope to visit his house within the month, as it is only two hours from here. The selection of English teaching materials was great at the bookstore and now I have some good science readers for my classroom. I love bookstores, they make my soul feel alive. Books are so amazing! Thanks Be to Gd for the gift of reading and the written word.
That was our weekend. Oh, and when I came back to my apartment, the hot-water repairman locked me out...real cool. Glad to know that we can break into my apartment with a credit card on the bottom lock...yeah.
Thus begins another week. Week 3, how is that possible? Only two more weeks until Beijing, National Holiday, and my birthday. I must say that I'm excited for all of that.


Papa John's--I never would have ordered it at home, but in China it sure does taste good.

Megan and Lindsey holding our tasty loot of gummi happiness.

This picture is dedicated to my dad who worked for GM for 25+ years. Somehow, somewhere in the middle of Shanghai, we managed to find the GM showcase.

GM's cool building with a Cadillac sign on the front.

This was taken from the second floor of Starbucks. Yes, it says: Danger-small children might fall through. I would not be comforted by that if I were a parent. Not that anything could really have fit through the space they were warning about, but it did make me wonder why they had to even have the warning...

The wall decoration in our hostel...knot, kont, it's all the same.

The bridge over the river, taken from our taxi.

Lindsey, Megan, and I on the Bund.

I took this picture for a reason...because I love Over the Rhine (see the following picture)

Check out the first column, second row picture. That was my attempt at reproducing that picture :) My favorite part of all, that poster is hanging in my kitchen!

The bright lights on Nanjing Street. Love it.

The Chinese do like to spit and finally someone created a sign telling them not to. I like whoever created that sign because spitting is yucky.

The beautiful decorations in a subway station.

Well, that's all I got...
Good night from Wuxi!

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