Friday, December 30, 2011


While giving finals this year I encountered a surprising amount of cheating. A lot of it was discussing the questions with their classmates after taking the test (which I kind of expected). This led to some entertaining answers. When I gave the test, I would say "OK" whether the student got the correct answer or not. Sometimes I would notice a trend where a few minutes after a student got a question wrong, several students in a row would get the same question wrong with the exact same answer. For example, when defining the word "siblings" a group of students answered "brothers and sisters (at this point I thought they were doing well, but then they continued) whose mother dies" (I think they kind of confused it with step-siblings or something).
I made two versions of the final to try and eliminate some of the cheating. One test had a picture of the pilgrims and indians having the first thanksgiving and the other test had a picture of three little children trick or treating in costumes. I would ask the students to tell me some things about the picture. I had a few students, when given the second version (with the trick or treaters), instantly begin to tell me about Thanksgiving and that the people were eating turkey, etc. Then the students would walk away from the test looking confident and ready to whisper that answer to the next student.
My favorite catch was when one student was waiting in line and I saw him looking at a small piece of paper and quietly repeating the four words that I had on my test. I took the paper from him and saw that he had the words written phonetically in Chinese Characters so he could pronounce them. Sometimes the English teachers would stay in the classroom to help keep the kids quiet which helped a lot.

Korean BBQ

Last night a Chinese English teacher and her friend treated another teacher and I to a Korean BBQ. I wasn't expecting a whole lot because Korean BBQs are often kind of expensive and you have to wait a while for a little food (and I'm really impatient when it comes to food). This particular restaurant that we went to, however, was all you can eat and drink and it included all kinds of meat, fish, shrimp, sushi, and even french fries (pretty much a personalized heaven). So that was a pleasant surprise and a nice way to celebrate finishing finals.

Monday, December 19, 2011

the inconsistency of blog postings

I'm sorry about the inconsistency of my blog postings over the last month. I'm trying to get back on track but I probably overdid it tonight. If anyone has any questions or comments, please comment on this post. I love to hear from friends. Thanks for reading my ramblings.

[The following is only meant for my family to read]
For some reason when I read over my sentence that mentioned "the inconsistency of blog postings" I kept thinking about the consistency of squirrel droppings. What else do trees have to talk about?

Also, classic movie I watched last night: That Thing You Do.

my ten lamb barbeque sticks

So in light of my previous post, this post may be hypocritical but I haven't been able to get this thought out of my mind lately. Every time I read world news or even look outside my window, I realize how blessed I am to live in America, but with that thought has also started to come a nagging sense of responsibility. It also kept bringing to my mind a verse from the Bible (Mark 10:17,19-20)
"As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'" "Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

A lot of us today do pretty good at keeping the 10 commandments but I think sometimes we forget ( or prehaps conveniently ignore) this scripture. It seems like today many of us get caught up battling against minor issues and we frequently overlook major ones. What a world this would be if we all practiced the principals in this verse. This just seems like one of those responsibilities that as humans and as Christians we can not ignore. All my life I was raised to be super frugal with my money and it has been a huge struggle to give anything (always with thoughts like "I could buy ten sticks of lamb barbeque with this", etc.). Well I wasn't able to write that as clearly as it sounded in my head, but I hope I got my point across. If anyone has any comments please let me know.


My final day of this term will be the 30th of December and classes don't resume again until the 6th of February. I am getting super excited for the break, this week I have been booking flights and hostels for my trip. On the 3rd I will be taking a train to Guilin, a beautiful area famous for its mountains (if you google image it you will probably have seen before). We will spend about a week there hiking, biking, and rafting down the river. From Guilin I will fly to Hong Kong to spend about 3 days there. I am not sure yet what I will be doing there but a friend from college is teaching there so I will be staying with him. From Hong Kong I will fly to Bangkok, Thailand for about two days and from there go to Ko Samet. Ko Samet is an island about two hours from Bangkok. This is the spot I am most excited to go. We will stay there for 5 days (which seems far too short for me) and hike, kayak, and just bum around. From Ko Samet we will return to Bangkok and fly from there to Xi'an, China where we will spend the Spring Festival. Xi'an has a long history and is the home of the Terracotta Warriors. After a few days there we will return to the ShiJZ. January can't come fast enough.

the gym

I bought a 6 month membership to a gym that's about a ten minute walk from the school. This has been really nice and gives me a chance to get out of my room and use some energy. It is a bit frustrating when half the people in the gym are sitting on a machine texting on their phones but you learn to work around them. The people at the gym are pretty nice on the whole, several have come over and chatted with me in English. One kid today invited me to dinner and to play pool afterward, opportunities like that are a great way to learn more about the culture and language.


I am finally on the giving end of a final exam (quote taken from my FB page). I have the last two weeks of the term to test my 720 students. And because it is an oral English class I test the students one by one. This gives me just under two minutes per student for the exam. As an added distraction we have to test out in the hallway which is open to the outside so after testing five classes in a row, my fingers begin to refuse to bend. The only really enjoyable part of the process is giving good students good grades (and the bad ones bad grades).

Friday, December 2, 2011


On Fridays here I have two classes after lunch before I am free for the weekend. The classes are as different as a warm sunny day and the deepest dungeons of hell where demons chew on your toes. The first class I spent half the time talking over the kids and the other half asking/demanding that the kids be quiet. It is a shame because 2 or 3 girls are genuinely interested in learning English but the rest of the class kills that opportunity for them. I am considering next semester simply kicking out large portions of the class so that the students who want to learn actually can. It is one of the more frustrating things in the world when you spend 2 minutes asking a single kid to stop talking then the second you look away he begins again. Or when I write a term up on the board and immediately the kids start yelling at each other in Chinese. Then I ask them to stop and they reply that they didn't understand what the term means and they were just asking their friends. The concept that I can and will explain the term to them just does not seem to stick. Today I only managed to get through one third of my slides.

Then when I am giving up any hope for Chinese students, my final class of the week swoops down and pulls me from the brink. It is not that the students in the class have much better English (though they do), it is simply that they are really interested in learning English (which obviously contributes to them having better English). Both classes have a super high amount of energy, but the final class manages to use their energy to learn, laugh, volunteer, ask question, and make my day. I got through all the slides, played 10 minutes of games, and still had time to show them some hockey fights at the end. I don't know how the classes manage to be so entirely different, if it is because of their head teacher or some other reason. It's just quite a relief finishing the week up on a high note.

sorry if there are any problems with my spelling, grammar, etc. Too lazy right now to go back.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

snow and stuff

This Tuesday I saw my first snowfall in China and a sharp drop to highs in the low-thirties. Tuesday also seemed to be the day when the students for every class forgot to bring the keys for the outside classrooms. I don't know if it was coincidence or just a convenient way for the kids to gain a little bit more snowball-making time. The snow didn't stay white or powdery for long, but it was a nice change of scenery for a few hours. Here is a picture I took out my window Tuesday morning.

One night last weekend all the other teachers were busy with other stuff and I was was getting super bored (and hungry), so I decided to make somewhat of a legit dinner for myself. So I spent about an hour searching for groceries (its hard to find mayo and mustard here) and another two hours making random dishes that had popped into my head earlier that day. In the end I had a dinner of deviled eggs, carrots (split into quarters and soaked in water, of course), pickled garlic (no idea where that one came from), bread and honey, toast, and pan fried chicken breast. Despite my unorthodox methods of making a lot of the food, dinner didn't turn out too bad. Paprika for the eggs would have been big, but oh well.

I also found some new stuff at the fruit stand the other day. The mini oranges are great. They are only about $1.50 for a bag and they last me a while. Also, it only takes about 15 seconds to skin them, so I can just eat them for breakfast or snack on my way to class. I'm not really sure about the black things, I just bought them because they looked pretty neat (kind of like a demon buffalo skull). Despite looking cool, they turned out to be too much work and not much reward. I had to use a flat head screwdriver to break it open and then to pry the inside out.

Just today I finally managed to find a tutee (I had to verify several times on google that "tutee" is actually an appropriate word for someone that you tutor). She is already accepted to a university in Canada after she graduates and wants to learn some English to prepare for classes there. Her English is good and she is not too shy, so it makes the hour not feel like I am pulling teeth which is nice for a change. I think it will also be good for me because I will have to research news articles and videos (I have tended to neglect the news since I have been here) and give me a different teaching experience.

Tomorrow I am going to try to get a gym membership, set up a bank account, buy a new phone, and meet some new tutees. Should be an interesting day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

more class stuff

I forgot about this story last post. On Friday when I was teaching about family, I had some of the kids tell me if they had aunts, uncles, cousins and which side of the family they were on. One girl was talking about her uncles and she was having a difficult time explaining about one uncle. She started flapping her arms like she was flying. The class and I started laughing and I asked her why her uncle was flying ( I really wasn't thinking), and (as we were still laughing) she managed to explain that "he was die." I felt pretty awful about that, but she seemed to take it pretty well.

This morning in kindergarten, I was teaching the kids about clothing-- pants, shirts, hats, etc. I was trying to explain "put on your ____." and "Take off your _____." I was demonstrating this phrase to them by putting a hat and scarf that I brought on and then taking it off. Then I let them put it on and I would ask them to take it off. Most of the kids are 5 or 6 and just tiny. One little girl asked me if she could put on my coat (I was wearing my blue zip-up hoodie (which is even big on me)), so I let her try it on. The bottom of the jacket dragged on the ground as she tried to walk around ( I really wish I would have had a camera with me) and she could hardly lift her arms because the sleeves were so long. Explaining it doesn't do it any justice, but I thought it was just too funny. Of course I then lost the class for 5 minutes to laughter and giggles.

Tomorrow, I am going to be teaching my students about careers.

Friday, November 11, 2011

this week

Just some little stories from this week.

On Wednesday, a Chinese English teacher, a friend, and I went out to dinner. My friend ordered the two dishes we always order at our favorite restaurant-- fried breaded mushrooms, green beans and eggplant, and our lamb meat skewers. We told the teacher to surprise us with the third dish. We quickly realized our mistake when the waiter brought us a bowl of congealed blood squares and calf stomach lining. After I got over the thought of it, I tried it and it wasn't too bad. She also ordered some chicken heart and stomach bbq skewers which were awful. There are some foods that I just can't understand how Chinese people can eat. Stomach, intestine, cartilage, etc. just doesn't seem like food one can enjoy. However, they do make up for all of that crap with their bbq lamb skewers.

On Monday and Tuesday, another Junior 2 teacher and I each taught for half of the class time. I taught about family and she taught about Halloween. I showed the students pictures of both sides of my family from the beach. As the the students saw the pictures, they let out a collective "WOOOOWWW!!" I thought that was pretty flattering for my family. However, when the other teacher showed the students a picture of Halloween candy, a significantly louder exclamation could be heard. Granted, I should have realized that a good looking family could never stand up against a bucket of candy in a class of 13 year old students.

This morning while I was teaching my third period class, I realized that 11/11/2011 11:11:11 would occur toward the end of my class. At 11:11:01, I turned on the TV which showed my computer's screen saver which displayed the time. We began a ten second countdown and at 11:11:11 everyone let out a huge cheer. It was a fun moment in an otherwise slow day.

One student asked me today if I had a girlfriend, when I responded that I did not. The student said "Well that's good, you get to celebrate Single's Day today." I guess in China, 11/11 is celebrated as Single's Day. I asked the student how I was supposed to celebrate the holiday and he told me that I should drink some wine with my friends (I guess fellow single people?).

Saturday, November 5, 2011


This morning (yeah, I define 12:30 as the morning) I went out to pick some stuff up to eat. A few feet from the school, two guys on bikes ran into each other and one guy hit the ground hard. He laid half in the street for about 20 seconds without moving. I couldn't call 911 and didn't know what to do. I tried to get the attention of the school security guard but he didn't seem to care neither did the other people who saw it and continued on their way. Two kids stood near him playing with their yo-yos and chatting. One man who stopped on his bike finally called the police. The other guy involved in the accident was on his feet and seemed to be defensive about the whole incident (I didn't really see any thing except them fall, so I don't know). After about 5 minutes, the guy on the tried to stand up, the first thing he said was "where am I?". I've only seen a few concussions in my life but I'm pretty sure this guy had one. When the cops showed up they asked him some questions and tried to straighten out his bike. The other guy that was involved left without being asked any questions. It took about 30 mins from the start of the accident for an ambulance to be called. The whole situation made me feel pretty helpless and disgusted by the apathy of those who didn't want to be troubled.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Yesterday I finished up teaching my lessons about Halloween. My final class of the week is really good and loves to participate. They also love to play hangman and I figured since it was Friday and almost Halloween, we could play for the final few minutes. The first phrase I put up was _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _. I figured they might not even guess it, but about 10 seconds after I finished writing the blanks, a kid in the back guessed Jack O' Lantern as a first guess. They continued to guess every phrase without first guessing any letters (I just looked back and realized that I used "guess" a few times too many). They guessed "Trick or treat", candy corn, and werewolf, all on the first turn. They began to say things like "Wow...we are so clever" and "this is too easy", so I had to think up one they wouldn't get. I put up the blanks _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _. They sat in their seats staring at the board for 10 minutes. I asked them if they would be late to their next class and one kid said super seriously, "this is too important." This time they resorted to guessing letters and they got to _ C T_ _ E _ _ _ _ _, but they only had one guess before their stick man died. Finally, one quiet girl in the back asked "October 31?". As I turned around to write it on the board, the entire class erupted into cheers. It honestly was louder in that room than a Penn State football game. One kid got up on his desk and began to dance. It was a great way to end the week.

Monday, October 24, 2011

she was die

So I am teaching about Halloween this week and one of my activities is to have the good students in the class write a scary story. This is my favorite one from this morning. (possibly more to come)

Once upon a time, a girl wanted a red Google phone and brought it home. Someone called her up at midnight when she turned off the phone already. But the phone was still ringing and then she answered. The man said "I'm on the first floor." The girl broke the phone, then the sound came out from the broken phone. "I'm out of the door!" The girl hide herself in the quilt. Finally, a sound said, "I am JUST BEHIND YOU!" Tomorrow, the girl were observed that she was die.

As the group wrote this terrifying thriller, one girl was so afraid that she wouldn't take her hands off of her ears the entire time.

and you?

On Mondays I teach two 25 minute kindergarten classes in the afternoon. Though these classes together add up to the same time as one normal class, they are what I least look forward to the entire week. It's not that the kids are bad (they are actually really cute), it's just that I hate faking enthusiasm for the whole class. Most of them are about 5 yrs old and the only way to keep their non-existent attention is for me to dance, sing, gesture, make noises, and otherwise make a complete fool out of myself. I realize that I should not care what the kids think about me and no one else really sees, but I think it just goes against years of instinct to preserve my self-image. The hours leading up to class are filled with regret and nausea, but once I'm in class it more becomes a tornado of regret, nausea, and just a bit of enjoyment. It is rewarding though and a good experience.

On thing that is obvious with 5 yr olds learning a new language is that they tend to memorize phrases that they are taught rather than understanding the parts of the phrase. I think I explained that pretty poorly so I will give an example-- "I am fine, and you?". In the maybe 10 kindergarten classes that I have taught since I started not a single student has answered my question "How are you today?" with "I am fine". The response without fail is "I am fine, and you?". Even if I ask a different question like "How old are you?", I'll often get "I am fine, and you?". This can often be tricky also because the phrase sounds very much like "I am five (which many of them are), and you?". My favorite, however, is when I ask a student another question like "What color is your shirt?" and he looks at me with bewildered eyes and responds "I am fine, and you?"

There is a joke that is particularly funny to English teachers in China which involves a Chinese person in America driving a car and they are hit by an American driving a car (this has nothing to do with the poor driving stereotype). The American person is not hurt at all and the accident was his fault. The Chinese person, on the other hand, broke his arm and his leg and can't move. The American driver asks if he is OK, and the Chinese guy responds (I think you know where this is going) "I am fine, and you?"

I know that probably could have better written but I'm still recovering from the gauntlet that is kindergarten and need a nap.

Friday, October 21, 2011

a little speed bump

Well, being too tall has let me down again. I showed up at the building were I was supposed to model and it turns out that they only had clothes for someone who was 185 cm (not sure why they didn't ask my height before I went). I'm 194 cm tall and, as I've only become too accustomed to, all of the sleeves were to short. So, I guess they are making some larger clothes for me and hopefully next weekend I will be able to go back. And they hired me a translator which made me feel pretty legit. So my dream has been delayed a little longer, but it is still alive.

A new career?

So yesterday afternoon a Chinese English teacher at my school asked me if I would be interested in modeling for a magazine (shirts, sweaters, vests, etc.). I said I was interested and sent some pictures to the person. I didn't really expect anything to happen (at least very soon). But this morning I got a call from the modeling lady and now I am working 16 hours this weekend starting in an hour from now. I'll post again when I am finished ( that is if I have not forgotten about all you "regular" people). I am certainly preparing myself for an interesting experience.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The camel

I was just outside getting some lunch today and I turned around and standing behind me on the street was that camel that I had seen out of my window about a month ago. It turns out it belongs to a beggar who walks the camel around asking for money.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday night feast

Last night we held our weekly Friday night dinner with the foreigners from the city. We had our normal group and some new people, including a girl from Spain, two guys from France (two too many for my taste :), a girl from Switzerland, and a guy from Sudan. The dinner was one of the best I have had since I've been to China; I really wish I had taken some pictures. In the end we each owed about $13 (which is way more than I normally like to pay), but we did get a feast. Steamed greens and clams, slices of cucumber with mashed potatoes on top and raspberry sauce, gongbao style shrimp, a shrimp omelet, fried potato balls, fried duck heads and wings, a whole fish, black fungus and turnips, prawn cakes, a sizzling platter of little steaks, and of course a plate of fried rice. When we thought we were finally done, the Sudanese guy broke out a kilo of dates that he had shipped over from Sudan (he told me his family shipped him about 25 kilos of dates which cost them about 500 American dollars to ship (something tells me his family is pretty wealthy)) and those who were able to fit anything else in their stomach had a delicious dessert. Here is a picture of the bag of dates that he sent home with me. (they are also great for breakfast as I just discovered)

And because of the lack of pictures at the beginning of this post, I will include a picture of my kitten looking like he/she (still not a 100 percent sure) owns the place.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Final day in Qingdao

We decided to take it easy the final day and we just toured some of the streets famous for their German architectural influence. It was pretty neat even though I am not generally into that kind of stuff. But it was nice to see something other than gray apartment buildings.

As a random bonus I am including a picture of fried quail eggs on a stick.


On Thursday we took a 2 hour bus ride to Laoshan (a very famous mountain where the water for Laoshan Beer (a very famous beer) comes from. It was about $20 for a day pass to the mountain (which took us by surprise) which included shuttle buses between the different sites along the mountains. There was some interesting religious stuff along the way like this huge statue whose name I can't remember.

It wasn't the man made things on the mountain, however, that made us glad we spent the money to come here. It was instead the awesome views that we encountered during our expeditions into the mountain. We were hesitant to continue at one point to a cave high in the mountain because we had already been hiking a lot that week. We kept climbing past the cave until there was no path or people. We climbed some huge boulders and found an awesome view on top and looking down.

We stopped at a beach at the base of the mountains and (of course) found more herds of brides getting their pictures taken on the beach (and their dresses wet and dirty which surprised me).

So overall we were definitely happy that we decided to make the trip to the mountain and, if nothing else, breathe some clean air.

Monday, October 10, 2011

3rd day (cont.)

Later that night we stopped by an old German church constructed around 1908. Again there were about 5 brides getting their pictures taken outside the church (a common pose for the pride and groom in China is for the bride and groom to touch noses (they hold the pose for a while so it looks really awkward)).

After looking around the church for a few minutes we decided to go to Little Qingdao. Little Qingdao is an island (kind of, now it has a concrete pier leading out to it) a few hundred yards off the coast. It has a German made light house on it and is beautiful at sunset (as evident from the picture).

After we left Little Qingdao we stopped at a little restaurant 15 ft away from the ocean and got some fried clams (apparently a must try when in Qingdao( I think the clams we got, however, were steamed (or whatever you normally do to clams), though I'm not totally sure (they were good (not amazing)))).

Qingdao day 3

On the third day in Qingdao I found a really neat military post on top of Qingdao mountain. It had been turned into a public park (not with swings and stuff but just stone paths through the mountain. We didn't know at all what was on the mountain and we just stumbled across this huge cannon overlooking the city.

Further up the mountain we found an observation post that was built buy the Germans around 1899. The rotating part of the post (on top) weighs about 6 tons.

Further down the mountain we came across the entrance to the entire underground bunker (of course we got charged to go in (only about a buck fifty though)). The bunker had living quarters, command posts, observation posts, escape hatches, a water supply, and all sorts of nifty things. The second picture is of me in the rotating observation post.

The Qingdao Battery Fort turned out to be super interesting and was one of my favorite tours (probably because we weren't expecting too much from it). The area doesn't even make the top 20 tourist spots in Qingdao.

Second day in Qingdao.

The second day I checked into a new hostel in the morning. It is called the Old Observatory and is built on a top a hill on the location of an old observatory (where they apparently got the name). For about 10 bucks a night, you can't beat it. There was an open air lounge on top with an amazing view of the city.

On the second day, two fellow teachers joined up with me in Qingdao. We first went to a famous landmark in Qingdao which is a long pier with a pavilion at the end. I'm not completely sure why it is so famous but the pavilion is pictured on the Tsing-tao (very famous in China) beer bottle. This day was still during the holiday so the pier was absolutely packed with people

We then moved on to another famous landmark. I believe it is the St. Micheal's catholic church. The church was pretty neat, but what interested me more was the number of brides getting their pictures taken in front of the church. I took a picture that shows three posing for pictures, but in the whole square there had to be at least a dozen or more brides taking pictures or waiting for a spot. We were walking away later and were passed by a bus completely full of brides and grooms.

Several venders buy the ocean were selling a neat looking snack food, it had to be about four feet by three feet and more than a foot deep. It reminded me of a mix between a fruit cake (which I have never tried), granola bar, and a payday candybar. They made cool decorations on top of it with nuts and fruits. It seemed like mainly Muslim people were selling it (i'm not sure why that was).

Day one in Qingdao

The first day in Qingdao I mainly walked along the miles of famous beaches in Qingdao. The city comes right up to the edge of the beach which is impressive but not very relaxing.

There were tons of venders along the beach who were just plain annoying, they are especially bad during the holiday. There was a lot to see along the ocean. The next picture is a structure in the May 4th Square next to the sea. May 4th is the date when many in China rebelled against foreign influence in China after WWI. (I was by myself the first day so I had to resort to the self picture pose).

Train to Qingdao

Since I bought my tickets late and everyone is traveling during the National Day holiday, I couldn't get a seat on the 8.5 hour train trip to Qingdao. I figured I would be a man and give it a try (plus it was only like 15 bucks). It was miserable. The train was packed and I could only stand right near the bathroom door. This is a picture looking at the aisle between the cars.

I think it is not so bad for the Chinese people because they can take up next to no room when the squat on the floor. I really couldn't manage to sit without being a roadblock. After a guy left, I managed to get a seat on a trash can. This was nice except people would make me move every few minutes so they could throw stuff away (probably those stuck up people that could afford seats). Eventually I managed to get about a half an hour of sleep on the can. I got to Qingdao around 9:00, checked in to my hostel and started touring the city.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Since I mastered the 陶笛 (taodi), also known as the ocarina (which is a bit too fruity of a name for my taste), last week,

I decided to learn how to cook (or at least put food together) this week. Here is my first attempt at salsa (before and after I mixed the ingredients together and added some ketchup). Its turned out surprisingly well. Its fun too because I can buy the veggies right off the street for super cheap and pretty fresh.

Edit* I'm not sure what happened with the font but it doesn't want to change.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dragon mountain

This morning a friend and I took a 15 taxi ride and 45 minute bus ride to Feng Long Shan (something Dragon Mountain). We met some nice Chinese students on the bus who become our tour guides for the day. It was about a two hour hike to the top but the view over the flat country around Shijiazhuang was well worth it. (the pictures really dont do it justice). The first picture is looking toward Shijiazhuang and the second is looking the other way toward some mountains.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


As I was watching rush hour traffic out my bedroom window like I normally do on Friday evenings, I saw a camel weaving between cars. I watched it for a minute in disbelief before I ran to get my camera (sorry about the quality).

Monday, September 12, 2011


Last night four friends and I went out for a great Chinese dinner. We were all sitting around the table chatting when I said something about the temperature here being kind of chilly at about 68 degrees. They all stared at my like I was stupid and I realized that they all went by Celsius and at 68 degrees we would be roasting to death. I thought it was pretty cool that I was sharing a Chinese dinner with my Australian, French, Scottish, and Welsh friends. I didnt realize before I came to China that I would not only be experiencing Chinese culture but also tons of others. Im doing my best to learn about them, but at the same time thanking God that I am an American.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Today my respect for teachers of all kinds went up a hundred fold. After teaching five classes today, I was more tired than any day on the farm or any of my other jobs. There are so many ways that teaching physically and mentally taxes you (but that stuff is boring and depressing and I'm tired). Some little things that made my day included calling on a portly kid named Bacon, another big kid after class telling me (surprisingly fluently) how wonderfully he plays the accordion, and a kid whose favorite food is "all the things" (a man after my own heart). They are all really neat kids and although it will be an often monotonous task, I can already see there will be many worth while parts to it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

For the family


One major problem that I've had while here is the breakfasts. While you can get fruit for breakfast, most parts of a Chinese breakfasts (as with most dinners) seem to be fried in oil. This kind of food really hits your stomach hard and isn't my favorite way to start the day. So on Sunday I went on a long hunt for some milk and cereal. The milk was the hardest to find. It's not refrigerated at the store and doesn't come in a solid container. I finally found it warm and bagged (I almost made a huge mistake at this point and didn't recognize the character for alcohol (jiu) on some of the bags, I guess some of them were fermented milk). Anyhow, my labor finally paid off and I got to sit down to a good (albeit strange) tasting bowl of cornflakes.

The hospital

This morning we had to go to the hospital to get tested for various ailments. It was a pretty cool experience, the hospital simultaneously tested around 50 people. We jumped from room to room getting EKGs, ultra-sounds, chest x-rays, etc. There were no lines and no privacy while in the rooms but this allowed them to get us in and out in a hurry. It did worry me a little, however, that the urine tests were done on your own in the main bathroom and then you simply placed your cup on a tray with thirty other uncovered cups. The only time I had a problem during the entire experience was when I was laying on the ultra-sound table with my shirt pulled up to my neck. The nurse said to me several times during the procedure "big breast," each time more urgently. Finally I realized that she meant to say "big breath" and I quickly obliged.

Weighty issues

As a small side note, I weighed about 210 lbs before I left the US. Now food here is plentiful, delicious, and fatty; however, it is not my mom’s cooking. I think it would be cool for all my readers to guess my weight upon my return to the States (the winner receiving something special). I will guess 198 lbs. Everyone leave a comment on this post with your guess in it. (Pictured below is my lunch from this afternoon to provide a point of reference)

At the school

I am now getting myself moved into my apartment. The apartment is spacious enough for me but it’s going to take a lot of work to transform the barren walls into something homely. I am going to be mainly teaching junior level classes (I think 8th grade or so); I will have about 20 classes over a four day period. I also just found out that I will also be teaching two thirty minute kindergarten classes a week (which could be fun but also likely a madhouse. I sit in on a class today and begin teaching tomorrow. There are about 11,000 kids on the campus and it is hard to escape the constant buzz that arises from that many kids in such a small area. I can see the halls of a guy’s dorm from my room and during certain times it really looks like a busy ant farm.

The city

Toward the end of the four hour trip from Beijing (next year a 1hr trip on the bullet train (whose billion (according to our driver) dollar track is currently under construction)) the tops of the massive apartment buildings appeared in the distant mist. These plain but giant building are awe inspiring in their own way. It struck me that living in one of these buildings must have a significant psychological effect on a person.