Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bathroom humor

         These past few days have been busy filing paperwork and getting familiar with the company. I haven't been able to do much exploring  since we are on such tight schedules going from one thing to another but  I am still adapting the the new cultural setting, and have definitely enjoyed my time here thus far. The food is wonderful and cheap but it has taken some time to get use to but in the long run I know all my money will be spent on it.
         I am still getting use to this lack of toilet paper business. If there is one place of comfort where you should be relaxed and pampered it should be on the toilet but that does not apply here.Many of the toilets do not provide toilet paper in the bathrooms and you must either bring some with you or use the more natural way and use your hand. As if the toilet paper was not enough of a struggle, many of the toilets both in home and in the public are not western style and you must squat to go to the bathroom. I am a bit familiar with this concept after going to Japan various times but I still am not a big fan of it. At least I know by the end of my stay, I will not only improve my balance from going to the bathroom but also build strong leg and ab muscles.Although there are more western style toilets in men's bathrooms than women's, it is said that women enjoy squatting and like not having western toilets. The Chinese also enjoy  using mothballs in urinals rather than the standard freshly smelling urinal cake or urinal deodorizer block. The smell is very potent and  when confined in small areas, it can be very overwhelming, especially when you are are sitting or squatting there for awhile. Due to the lack of  water pressure and  poor septic system, toilet paper cannot be thrown in the toilet and must be put in a trash can next to it. Yes that's right folk's, as you go to the bathroom you get to be in the presence of soiled and poopy toilet paper in a waste bin on top of the the mothball smell , which creates such a nice environment and aroma.
         On to a more exciting event, some other highlights to be noted, is that I set up a Chinese bank account so that when the time comes, my money can be deposited. As part of the process of getting my Chinese work visa, I had to get a Chinese physical.  Unlike the American  poke poke cough squeeze physical, the Chinese do a more in depth analysis to make sure you are clean and healthy. After filling out multiple pages information about your health which  include questions asking  "do you have any of the following" such as  Hepatitis, fever, diarrhea in the past week or to top it off STD's.  One by one you wait to  speak with a nurse about any concerns in you health and  enter your information into the database.  After changing into robes, you are put through a series of about 8 stations that include chest x-rays, further questioning and blood work, They also set up all these wires and suction cups to your body to get more data about your health. To top it off, we were given ultrasounds. Loving the fact I was getting an ultrasound, I was trying to crack jokes to the nurse about the baby I was having. Initially I said it was a baby boy but after further review I decided it was twins! As  I spoke about my happiness about the potential of being a pregnant to the nurse, she kept poking me and telling me to lay down. I really don't think that she enjoyed the experience as much as I did, but then again I'm not sure she understood since I was speaking English.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ni Hao Shanghai

After a grueling 14 hour flight from Los Angeles, in which I slept almost the whole way there, I arrived in Shanghai. Having arrived an hour and a half earlier than expected, I sat in the airport, waiting to be picked up by my employer for a little over an hour. Once I was greeted by my employer, I had to wait another hour and a half for another coworker and fellow MAIS student Robert Batten to arrive. Forgetting that they were picking up 2 students who were packing for over a year, we were picked up in a clown car SUV that was shorter in length than I was tall.As we were crammed into the car packed like sardines, It took 45 minutes to arrive to the Greentree hotel, which was located down the street from the Main office of the school. The climate in Shanghai is ridiculous. Not only is it hot , but it is also humid and the combination of the two makes for a deadly combo. As we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted by fellow coworkers and MAIS students Samantha,Kirsti and Leila, which made the transition to China more comforting. After dropping off our bags, we went to my future apartment as my mom calls "The Penthouse", a 2700 sq ft apartment on the top floor of my complex which is 2 stories and features 5 bedrooms,3 bathes, 2 saunas, 2 living rooms 1.5 kitchens,  and a balcony . The place was much more amazing in person than in the pictures I saw. Pictures will soon be coming once I am completely moved in. The best part of the Apartment is the "Man Cave" which features a  55 inch big screen TV, treadmill and a  mini kitchen. Waiting for us as we all came to the apartment was more MAIS Students, John,Jacob and my roommate Mike who were hanging out. I can already tell it is going to be a fun year ahead of me.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Goodnight America

The day has finally arrived, after waiting months for this day to come, it is hard to believe that it is finally here. I am still a bit in denial but  the fact in sitting in the airport  blended  in like where’s Waldo  among hundreds of Asians waiting to board my plane, has given me the reality check I needed. The fact that I don’t understand a lick of what they are saying is also not boost my spirits for  what the year will be like.
Having packed up all my belongings in boxes ready for storage and packed my bags to the brim (so hard to pack for a year when all the seasons are bipolar!) it is so bittersweet. I am leaving behind all my friends and family and the things I consider within my blanket of comfort, and trading it for the unknown. I am excited to jump into this adventure and see where it takes me. As John Wayne states “ Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway”
As I was dropped off at the airport by my parents, it was hard to say goodbye knowing that I won’t be seeing them anytime soon.  I  know this is a wonderful  once in a life time opportunity and that is why I am willing to trade my car and fork  in for ricksaws and chopsticks.  
Before I get all emotional on y'all  I'll just let Kanye West do the talking

So with that being said. Good night America, I see you when my dreams turn into reality

Blog Progress

       It has occurred to me that this blog has been too serious and that is totally uncharacteristic of me. I do apologize for this mistake and from now on i will keep it real and filled with humor. Thank you for the following of my blog and I promise it will be more entertaining. This is my first blog though so it will improve with time. Id love to hear back from you and know what kind of information you want to see in my blog.
     Shout out to Mary Jean Sandall for the cleaver title "The Traveling Cowboy"Playing off my passion of traveling and my name: John Wayne, aka the Duke, aka the ultimate cowboy.

Jordan & Tobey's Wedding

       Although I have been very busy trying to get everything packed and situated for my trip. I have devoted the past few days to Jordan and Tobey's Wedding. With Tuesday being Jordan's Bachelor party and Wednesday being the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner and Thursday being the actual wedding, it has been a non-stop chain of events.
        After months of planning, the wedding was beautifully set up and every little detail was picture perfect. To be part of the wedding, of such a wonderful couple was a real honor. The love and passion that they have for each other is surreal and their affection and actions for  one another clearly show their love. I am so happy for both of them and I know their futures will be bright together as their personalities complement one another.
        On a more serious note, I hope within the new few hours, that I follow Jordan's footsteps and get yellow fever, if not, it will be a long year ahead of me.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Summer Update

          Since graduating Western Oregon University in June with a Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing with a minor in International Studies, I have had little time to enjoy "summer". 
          Within a week removed of finishing college, I started my yearlong Masters program at Concordia University in Irvine, California for a Masters of Arts in International Studies (MAIS).  During my 6 weeks of summer school in Irvine, I took 16 credits while also getting certified in Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Having 10-13 hours of class everyday, and loads of homework, it wasn’t uncommon to get less than 3 hours of sleep night after night.  
          I can confidently say that I have never worked as hard in school as I did during this summer session and what a relief to have it over with. Through the strenuous term, I created a strong bond with many of my fellow MAIS cohort that will be long lasting. 
       With people from all over the country and at all stages of life, we bonded together and helped motivate and give support to one another as we took on this yearlong journey together. Even though we only were together for 6 weeks, it seemed that we had known each other for years, after spending so much time together.

            After my summer school had ended, returned to Oregon for a couple days before repacking my bags and going on a weeklong trip to fulfill my promise and visit my grandparents.  My first stop was to Black Mountain, North Carolina, where I spent 2 nights with Grandpa and Grandma Gregory. After the hectic summer school schedule. It was such a treat to relax and spend time talking with such knowledgeable and loving people.
 My next stop was to the Strawberry capital of the World, Ponchatoula, Louisiana. During my 3-night stay I was able to see Grandma Kelly and a number of my Aunts, uncles and cousins. My time in Louisiana was so nostalgic and I rekindled my love for my birth state. With so much wonderful family and food, it didn’t take long to win me over. With temperatures in the high 90’s and killer humidity, I was reminded of the reality that I will be facing once I step foot into China.

Welcome to my Blog!

     As many of you know, I will be going to Shanghai,China for a full year to pursue a Masters of Arts in International Studies from Concordia University, which is located in Irvine, California. During my time in China, I will be teaching English part time to Chinese kindergardeners from the ages 2-6 at the Shane training school. I will also be taking online classes. Since I will be having limited communication with people in the States, I figured this would be the best way to fill you in on all my adventures and keep you up to date with everything.