Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Only in China

         China is a one of a kind place, Everyday I find something observe something interesting that breaks the social norms of America, but is totally accepted and tolerated here.  I find myself amazed at the brutality of some of the Chinese teachers, although they are so nice; they give no mercy and many times are not fazed by their actions, which I tip my hat off to them. Today in my class as I was teaching my pre-schoolers, a couple of them thought it would be fun to run through the open door to go outside during the middle of my lesson. As they were screaming and running around outside under the porch as it was raining, one of the Chinese teachers gets out of her seat and casually walks over to the door and closes it, as the kids are still outside. Being little, they are not tall enough to reach the door handle and are stuck outside. I continued on with my lesson as the teacher sat by the door not even phased that she herself locked the kids out of the classroom on purpose. With the kids screaming and banging on the door, I couldn't help but to laugh as the teacher just sat there while the kids were outside in the rain. It wasn’t until a couple more minutes that she finally let them in.
       In another one of my classes, which were 3rd graders, one of the boys was being bad and was screwing around. Before I could stop and discipline him, one of the teachers had a better plan and decided to have a girl hold the hand of the boy sitting next to her, grabbing both their hands and putting them together. She then proceeded to call the other boys name. He stops fooling around and looks up to see the girl he likes is holding another boys hand. Angry that this is happening, he continues to be obnoxious. As the girl and boy let go of their hands, the teacher puts the boys arm around the girl and then calls the other boys name again. He looks over again to find that the boy has changed positions and now his arm over the girl he likes. This made the other boy furious and he finally stopped fooling around and sat there with his arms crossed and stared at the ground. Never would I ever thought to do such cruel acts on a little boys heart but then again it did work so kudos to the teacher for doing that.

 At DMZ, the school I teach all my classes but 1, they so kindly gave me an “office”.  Located in pretty much a storage closet, there are little cubicles with tables in them that are used for storage, but at one time were probably used for a study room of some sort. It is there that I can store some of the resources I need for my classes as well as hang out and “rest”  aka take a nap. The room even comes with a door that locks as I have found when arriving a few days and couldn’t get in. After getting locked out the first time, rather than asking for assistance, I shook the door handle and after awhile if you move it in the right position it unlocks on its own. I’m glad to know I’ve been blessed with such a safe room to keep my belongings in. Check out my sweet office and nap area though, it features nice star pillows that I can lay my head on and in this cubicle there’s so much room to do activities, no bunk beds necessary. (Step Brother’s movie reference)
My Office"

Where I "rest"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A blessed day

            After having one of those gloomy days where you contemplate what your doing with your life and wishing for those better days I sat in my room all alone just thinking.  Worn out from the obnoxious kids and the overload of schoolwork, with so many things going through my heads it has given me some insomnia over the past few nights. Exhausted from lack of sleep, my motivation to teach the kids with enthusiasm was at a bare minimal. I arrived to class on Monday, already tired from working this past weekend to make up for the holidays in a sluggish mode.  Little did I know, that God was watching over me and would soon answer my prayers throughout the day. After teaching one of my pre-school classes flawlessly and actually running out of time to teach, it was a complete 180 of what their last class was which included them not knowing their vocabulary and running and yelling all over the place. As I transferred to go to my other school, I went into another one of my preschool classes to find that the main teacher was out and that her assistant had given the kids a coloring sheet to work on. Unsure what to do, I asked to see when I should start teaching, to my surprise she said that I should just walk around and play with the kids, only talking to them in English, which was simple enough and very enjoyable. I went to my next class of preschoolers and they were running behind schedule, rather than my 30 minute class that I normally have, it was cut down to 15 and for once they was very calm for the most part.
After that class, I had another 30-minute session to teach English to some of the teachers. Normally a struggle to be productive during this time, since it is a break away from the students, they typically like talk to one another in Chinese, some of which I think they gossip about me since I am Chinese yet I can’t speak the language. But unlike my past encounters, today they were vary curious to learn English and were asking questions about what to talk about rather than me trying to make up basic phrases and sentences. It seemed more of a hanging out session than a teaching a class because they were enjoyable and were comforting with their words. Having taught in most of the teacher’s classes, I have been concerned about if they like me or not. While the kids for the most part seem to enjoy my presence, the Chinese teachers haven’t been so obvious with their actions and many times watch me like a hawk, making notes of everything I do. Being new to teaching and to the school, I have been trying really hard to get on their good side as I have heard through others that it is very difficult to teach when the Chinese teachers are on your bad side, and that some purposely do things to make your teaching more difficult.
But today some of them expressed their gratitude for me and in their classes had their students say nice things randomly out of the blue. If I were to have a picture perfect day teaching, this would be the day. Everything was going in the right direction and one good thing after another was happening. During my session teaching the teachers, we talked about bowza (a steamed bun with meat inside of it) and how I liked it and one of the teachers said I should go get some. Thinking they were making fun of my pronunciation of the word as they all talked in Chinese and laughed, I doubted my Chinese and myself but tried to shake it off.  Normally I teach grade 1 class 2 after my session with the teacher but today it switched and I taught grade 1 class 1. This is my favorite class to teach because the kids are so well behaved and are smart and the cutest ones I think.  After teaching for about 15 minutes, the teacher interrupts me and asks if I had lunch. At this time it was around noon. I replied to her that I hadn’t and she insisted that I stop teaching and go eat. Feeling bad that I hadn’t taught the 30-minute class, I continued to teach and figured I would just wait to eat afterwards. As I carried on teaching she went downstairs and got me food from the cafeteria. She arrived back in class and handed it to me telling me to go eat and that it would be enough for the day.
Later during my lunch break, one of the assistant teachers came into my office and brought in a bag filled with bowza. I was touched by the generosity but it was anonymous who bought them when I asked.  After lunch, I had have a 2 and a half hour break so I decided to lay down and take a nap and “get some rest” as they like to call it. Sleeping most of the break I got a nice little nap in. I went into my last class to teach, normally it is the one I teach before lunch but today they switched it and it was my last class of the day. The teacher let the kids sleep longer than normal and so when I arrived she didn’t hand me a stack of flashcards like she normally does, but rather said talk to them in English and tell them they need to go  “peepee” and to go eat their snack. As I waited for them to get out of their beds (In every classroom there is a side bedroom filled with beds that is assigned specifically to each kid), some of the kids were so excited to see me that they rolled out of bed to greet me and forgot to put on their pants. For the remaining part of the class period I just hung out and talked with them in English as they ate their snack.
After all the stress and worrying it seemed that so many of questions that I had about work were answered one after another. While some still remain, it was reassuring that my work and presence was valued at the school. It was such a blessing to essentially have a day off and to relax and not have to keep up with the kids.
To top off my wonderful Monday I came home and took another nap and help the try and catch up on some sleep. Although I had no motivation, I got myself out of bed and headed to the gym with Miles, one of my roommates, since I had not been in a couple of days and have been sidetracked with the holiday.
After the gym we met up with our other roommates and had our weekly Monday night dinner together at Blue Frog. It was a nice ending to a picture perfect day. It’s amazing how much of a positive impact today played on me and how much my spirits were lifted. I truly have been blessed.

2 wheeling all over Shanghai

Although it nice walking around Shanghai, it is a very big city and sometimes walking doesn’t cut it. I have invested in a bicycle to make exploring around the city much easier and cut down on transportation costs. For a whopping 260 RMB I purchased “The Super bike” a basic bike that should get me around town. Francesca my other roommate also purchased a bike and mike my other roommate who already had a bike joined us. After buying a bike we took to the roads and started to explore Shanghai on this bright and cool Fall day. After riding around for a few hours it was just a taste of what the next year holds in store with us. 
You can see  the seat is broken towards the front

The next day we went on a bike ride to the bookstore. With another holiday coming soon, we wanted to get books on potential places that we might visit. After the bookstore we strolled around the city. Not even having the bike for a day I somehow managed to break the seat, which made the ride not as enjoyable. On the way home as it got dark, I got separated from Mike and Franchesca as I got stuck behind traffic and had to wait for cars to pass. With out a map or an idea of where I was at, I tried to call them but they didn’t pick up. I somehow managed to find the metro line and followed it all the way home. Once home, we some of our friends from our cohort came over and joined us for dinner at the local restaurant down the street from us. There is a strip of restaurant that are next to each other and we have been trying to test out each one to see I they are any good. So far this place was the best that we’ve had. Not only was it cheaper for the most part but the food was also a lot better.

Moon Festival

               In honor of the Chinese Holiday Moon festival which is from Wednesday the 22 trough Friday the 24, we had to work on Sunday the 19th and the following Weekend the 24th and 25th to make up the schooldays that we missed. Since they wanted to have a 3 days holiday in the middle of the week, we had to trade our weekends for it, which was a horrible idea. The smarter alternative would be to leave everything the same and just take Friday off but that would be too simple. I must say by working on the weekends, it has totally thrown off my sense of time.
             On Tuesday, September 21, after class my classes, it was the start of the holiday, so I went by train down to Hangzhou with a fellow classmate Rob. Since we had a luncheon there for school, I decided to go the night before rather than getting up at the butt crack of dawn to trek down there. Hangzhou is small city and is known for it’s lush landscape, specifically the West Lake. It is about an hour and a half south by train and is where the other half of my cohort that is not in Shanghai is studying and teaching university at. Upon arrival I faced a bit of a culture shock. Hangzhou embraces the Chinese culture more so than Shanghai and does not take on the Western culture as much. As we waited to flag down a cab for a split second, it hit me that I was in actual China as I left the comfort of Shanghai. I spent the night at Phyllis’s, a fellow cohort member and had the pleasure of breaking in her lovely guest bed, which featured a hello kitty blanket that she purchased with me when she visited shanghai, except I went with Domo, the more manlier Asian cartoon character.
              Once in Hangzhou, I visited some of the other classmates and explored the campus. I ended up hanging out with Phyllis, Ralph and Mo (all in my cohort) for the rest of the night. For some odd reason the gates close at 12 o’clock so you either get locked out or locked in to your dormitory. Wanting to explore the city at night we hopped the fence and carried on with our adventure. Once freed, we roamed the streets in search of food and any late night activities we could find. It was decided that we would go to Coco’s the local hang out which was the so-called hotspot. Somewhat of a dive, the bar/dance club was packed with sweaty people and music blasting. Filled with a nice mix of locals and foreigners it was surprisingly busy for a Tuesday night.
             The next morning we went to lunch at “Grandma’s Kitchen” which is a famous local restaurant that has rapidly expanded over the past few years. To my surprise, we had 4 big tables filled with fancy food that was quite delicious. Based on my experience, Concordia University has been very cheap and stingy with what they provide for us so I figured the food wasn’t going to be anything special so this was a surprise to everyone. Plates after plates came filled with famous local dishes. It was nice to see most of everyone from cohort, who was there. This is the first time that I saw many of them in China, with the last time being in California.
           After lunch, we said our goodbyes and Rob and I headed back to Shanghai. That night I went out with my roommates and some friends to a club called Phebe 3d, which is pretty close to my house. This was like a Vegas style club and even had performances during certain hours of the night. What was nice about this place is not only did they have a dance floor with tables surrounding it and multiple bars, but they also had a side room with big couches and tables to sit and hang out. They also offered a all-you can drink bracelet deal for 100Rrm. We met some pretty cool people there including some French people who were surprisingly nice, and who we spent most of the night socializing with.
              The next morning my roommates and I got up and went to Yoga class and then Gym. Since I have paid out of the wahzoo for this gym membership, it has given me great motivation to consistently go. I have been trying to go about 3-4 times a week based on what my workload looks like but in return it has been very beneficial. Since being in China, which has been a little over a month I have dropped about 10 pounds which can be linked to the different lifestyle I have lived here. This includes more walking, sweating and eating different foods. I would like to think that it is because of my more consistent gym visits, but usually I gain weight the more I go to the gym, so that is probably not the case.
          The rest of my Moon Festival consisted of resting from the hectic schedule filled with kids work and extra curricular activities that I normally am swamped with and catching up on my homework for school. It seems that most of my schoolwork comes in clumps. Since all my schoolwork is online classes, we do not have to attending any lectures, which is nice, but at the same time it has made it hard to remember to do all the assignments. Without the accountability of going to class, I carry on with my daily tasks and get occupied with everything that I have to do with work, sometimes forgetting about school, but luckily I have my roommates to remind me.

Family trip to the Expo

Since there is so much to see at the World Expo, which only is going on for a month longer, my roommates and I decided to go as a family after work to see it.  This being my second time, I was excited to see some of the other pavilions. After meeting up roughly after 5 pm and getting the discounted evening admissions, we were surprised to see that Miles was missing.
It turns out that he literally got locked into the house and could not get out. The way our door works is if someone locks the door with their key from the outside, you have to use a key to unlock it from the inside to get out.  Unfortunately for him, as I left for work, I locked the door out of habit, which would not be a big deal on a normal day except he couldn’t find his keys so he was locked in and had to call in “sick” into work and miss out on our family trip to the expo and weekly dinner. Out of all the days to loose his keys, this is by far the worse one because we were all together and wouldn’t be home until late. But don’t worry too much, if there were anyone who would enjoy being locked into the apartment for a day it would be him. It isn’t uncommon to see him with his laptop on the couch sitting in the same position for hours. I can confidently say that in our apartment in Concordia, the couch we had was molded to his body because he sat in it so much.
But back to the Expo, we explored the European area in zone B. Being in a group, I was unable to see as much as when I was by myself since I had to wait around for everyone, but it was nice to have the company. It seems the more I go, the more I realize how big it is. During my first trip I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off but this time it was a more casual pace and we only saw about an 1/5 of what I did in my first trip. As a gift from my work during our banquet on Saturday, we were all given Expo passports as keepsakes.  I decided to bring mine with me and see what the big hype about getting the passport stamps was. Just like in real life, it was very satisfying to see an empty passport page be filled with a stamp from where you visited, but by no means would I ever want more than one of these, as it took awhile to get stamped and was a hassle to find where the stamp booth was. Some of the pavilion that we saw included New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and Thailand. By going through these pavilions in the Expo, it has given me an idea the country has to offer and has inspired me to visit.
We stayed at the Expo the whole time until 10, when it closed, after walking around for about 4 and a half hours, we left and continued on with our family trip. As we left to get onto the subway. There were lines of Expo staff waiting with signs and singing to send us off . It was a very kind gesture. Once we left the Expo we went to Blue Frog, the burger place that I mentioned earlier in a post and the location for our weekly Monday family dinners. Starving from all the walking we all had delicious burgers.. Except Miles who was still locked in the apartment. Feeling bad we decided to bring him one home. After being stuck in the house all day he was excited to see us all of course and was even more excited about his burger.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

You went to the State Fair, I went to the World Expo!

Being blessed with my afternoon class being cancelled. I was able to leave work early and have a full afternoon open. While Many people this year went to the state fair, I unfortunately didn’t get to. Instead, I went to the World Expo, the worldwide fair that features almost every country in the world. The Expo features over 196 countries and over 250 countries and world organizations in 170 different pavilions. I decided to take the opportunity and go explore the World Expo (World Fair), which has been happening in Shanghai since May. For students, they have a nice discount, which allows students after 2pm to pay 100 RMB (roughly $15) to go to the expo compared to the 160 RMB that they normally charge adults. With hundreds of thousands of people attending each day, it is estimated that over the 6-month course, there will be over 75 million visitors with only 5% being foreigners and the rest being people from China. Following the slogan “Better City, Better life”, China has poured more money into the expo than they had in the Beijing Olympics, which is hard to believe.
The way the Expo is marked off, it is essentially a city within a city. Gates surround the whole event and security is on every corner patrolling.  In each pavilion, it is set up to resemble each country by both the decor and attire people are wearing. Inside it gives a brief history of the country and the building is laid out so that it feels you are actually in that country.  With huge murals and props, visitors are embraced with beautiful scenery and for many it is the only chance they will see what it is like outside of China. For the larger pavilions, you could sit for hours upon hours waiting to get in. It is said that in the German Pavilion it isn't uncommon to wait 6.5 hours or more. Trying to see as much as possible I skipped the bigger pavilions that had huge lines like Japan and Korea and went into smaller ones. There are multiple reasons that the lines are so long, one of them is because each pavilion is like a museum so there is so much to see and read. Another reason is that there so many people at the park that it causes congestion, but the real kicker of why it takes so long is because of all the Asians who take pictures of literally everything. It seems like every 10 seconds they stop to take a picture of something random such as the carpet, or the lighting.  I can only imagine what it would be like if their cameras were not digital and they had to actually use film rolls. I'm sure they would go through a roll every pavilion.

Hello Moon, Hello Sun

To celebrate the end of another long work week, my apartment decided to have a potluck and invited all of our cohort classmates in Shanghai and fellow coworkers to come over and have a potluck. With plenty of food of all sorts, it was a wonderful time to meet new people and take our minds off  of work. Having a wonderful turn out, there were probably around 30 people that came over. After eatting and socializing we left our apartment and went to a bar called zapatos which was overflowing with both foriegners and locals. The bar w featured multiple levels of tables to hang out inside and outside with the lower level being a dance floor.I had an encounter with an Asian guy in a wife beater with a shirt tied around his head, something you see in a movie and shake your head at but figure he is Asian and doesn't know better. Before I knew it, we began to have a dance off.  Being imfamous for their dance moves I noticed that a large amount of Asians are horrible dancers. Not saying im any better   I busted out my some terrible moves including the shopping cart and the sprinkler jokingly. As people started to take noticed of the dance off I had to actually be serious,but in the sake of not looking like a complete idiot we both stopped dancing after I threw in the dagger, before someone who actually dance would call us out. But all in fun nature it was a great time. Afterwards the bartenders called people out to dance on the table and  it so happen that a few of got on the bar and danced as they passed out free shots of tequila. Afterwards some of us went to club called M2 which was more of a vegas style club. The place was packed with people as the Dj blasted house music everyone total raved. With massive fog machines and strobe lights, it was destine to be a good time. After dancing out hearts out and being the last ones to stay out,  My roommate Mike and I decided it was time to go home. As we arrived home  at 5:45 Am, the sun decided to come out. Oh Shanghai what a year we are going to have together.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Kids these days

Having heard some of the wild names that fellow co-worker’s students have as their English name, I was very curious to see what kind of names my kids had. In a couple of my classes I took the time to ask their English names. To my surprise, I had a few that stood out a little more than others including: Tony hawk, coco, candy, Chocolate, brain, Ferguson, Etna, Jackie Chan, pimple,Jam, a couple of the students were named Dora (Dora the explorer) Domo, Hello kitty (both famous Asian cartoon characters) and to top it off. Pikachu

With that being said, some of the students were without names and lucky for me I was able to give them American names. Tempted to continue the outrageous names, I decided to refrain and give them actual names. To make things easier, I used the names of TV show characters as their names. Originally Not to worry I used the cast from the office to name my students including Jim,Dwight,Pam,Angela,Micheal,Creed,Andy,Stanley and a few others.

In honor of having the opportunity to hand out American names I present you with a gem that I was so luckily to be blessed with in class the other day.

I find it funny that as I teach my students colors, using a picture book, when I ask them what color brown is, they are Unable to answer and are more intrigued with the picture of a chocolate candy bar and yell out chocolate!! Chocolate!! This is Vanessa, She was screaming the answers at the top of her lungs before this but I got to film a little of it.

It amazes me how tiring working with kids can be. Having bounced around from classroom to classroom, I can only image what it would be like to teach the kids all day. I have found that as the days go on, it has become a lot easier to teach than it was my first few days here. My lesson plans are much smoother and the kids are more active and participating diligently. Although it is hard to see myself teaching for a profession, I love being able to interact with all the cute little Asian kids. I feel so loved by them as their faces light up when I enter the room. They might be doing something but when I come in they drop what they are doing to wave and scream “hello teacher” flock around me with some hugging me. As if that wasn’t enough to re energize your soul, as I leave the classroom they all scream goodbye and once again flock around me trying to block my exit. With the Chinese teachers yelling and pulling them off one by one as they try to get one last glimpse of me as I make an exit, for a few split seconds I feel like a celebrity with a bunch of die hard fans.

Having an hour commute to work and an hour commute back home, I've become very familiar with the Shanghai metro system. It is very efficient and one of the best in the world. With over 24 million people living in Shanghai, millions use the metro as their source of transportation. Regardless of what hour of the day it is, the metro is constantly filled with people pushing and shoving to get a spot, with the prize possession being an actual seat. It amazes me the types of unintentional games that you play on the metro. When a person stands up out of their seat to leave, it is like a game of musical chairs, As the person gets up, it is like that last split second where the music stops and it is a mad dash to get the last chair. Regardless of what age, size, gender, people will push and shove in hopes to get the seat. It was just the other day that I saw an old lady and a guy  push people out of the way and then dive for the final seat on the train. With the guy eventually winning(of course), the woman  yelled some fierce words that I couldn’t understand and then slapped him. With that kind of demeanor, someone so generously gave up their seat for the lady.
            Once accepting that you wont get a seat, you must stand holding on to the bar, getting nice and close to those sitting down. Yesterday, I was sitting as a guy standing next to me crept up and  bumped my knee. Startled, I looked up at him and he looked down at me, and that’s when it began. A Staring match of all staring matches. An eye for and eye. Starring back and forth for at least 2 metro stops. Eventually I had to bail and look away as it was a bit award and I didn’t want to give him the wrong impression. For the first time in a long while I lost a starring match but I felt he had the upper advantaged as he peered down on me.
            Many times it is as hard to get off the metro as it is to get on. With everyone pushing and shoving eager to get on the metro, it causes a traffic jam. Initially I let people go first but after almost missing my stop multiple times and getting shoved/kicked one too many times, I decided enough was a enough and it was now survival of the fittest. Being much bigger and stronger than a large population of the people, I use my body as a wrecking ball trying to break through the  crowd of people. It feels like I am back in time reliving my football days as I try to break through the gaps and into the open field. With my arms up at my chest, I  begin my power walk barreling through whatever is in my way. Remembering the oh so often phrase “keep moving your feet, don’t stop”, by Coach Weisbrodt, my feet are still trucking as I hit the traffic of people. With a  few bumps and shoves getting pinballed back and forth. I bust free and I'm finally off to my destination.

 Just a peak at how packed it gets. I found this on youtube but it gives you an idea


The other day I flopped on my roommates bed not thinking about the curling iron that was laying on it. Thinking my roommate wasn’t dumb enough to have it turned on laying on the bed,I was in for a huge surprise. in a horrible turn of events, I feel my leg burn as the hot metal presses against my skin. Although it was only touching for a split second, the damage was done and my leg was burned in multiple spots…Fantastic

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Little things in life

Waking up with a horrible runny nose and a cold I  dreadfully went to work hoping that the day would soon be over.  In China, September 10th is Teacher Appreciation day throughout the country. I arrived to my first class at XMZ feeling horrible with nose running like a facet. I was surprised to receive a card from one of the girl's, whose  mom wrote me to tell me thank you for all the good work that I have done and how her daughter is always so excited for my class. Reading the card made me feel appreciated and it was a very kind gesture, especially since it was coming from one of my favorite students who goes all out every time I come to class yelling "Hello!" Hello" Hello teacher" and runs up to me  as I enter the classroom and waving  rapidly with a smile of her face.
After my class was over, I had to switch and go to my other school to teach.I thought how amazing it would be if I didn't have to teach anymore and that they would say I'm too sick to be there and that I could go home. To my surprise, when I arrived at the school, the security guard gave me a weird look and was trying to speak Chinese. I pushed on and continued to walk into the school before he followed me trying to get me to stop. It turned out that all the classes were cancelled for the day and that they  had the day off. It was a dream come true and I was able to go home and rest for a little bit before going into the office to take care of some paper work.
Today was filled with many surprises and it was a wonderful way to spend teacher appreciation day. Its the little things in life that make the biggest impact.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Take a leak inside my Classroom

In my first week of teaching, the stories have already begun. My teaching has brought so much excitement to the kids that they can barely contain themselves.

This little boy was so excited to learn Chinese,  it scared the crap out of him when I started to speak English.  Even though he was causing alot of stink, the teachers let him enjoy the rest of the class with a little extra cushion on his seat.

The dreadful potties located in the classroom. Sometimes when you gotta go, you gotta go regardless of the situations, these boys were able to multi-task and take care of business in both the classroom and on the toilet.
Just posted on the toilet in the classroom. No Big Deal

Sad to say sometimes even though the toilets are in the bathroom, some of the kids help themselves and jump the gun a little bit to early.

As I was teaching the class a game, I took a quick glance and noticed a big puddle of water. The next thing I know some of the kids are stepping in it and spreading it all over the class with their shoes. Sad to say it but the cutest little  boy in the class got too excited and peed himself. To my surprise, as the Chinese teacher cleaned up the mess and changed his clothes, it wasn't a boy after all and that he really was a girl... Wah Wah

To top off the bathroom humor in the classroom, I have a shout out to the little boy who answered my question correctly and then proceeded to pull up his pants and go to the bathroom. Being on top of their game, the Chinese Teacher grabbed the little boy, but it was too late, the fluids were already flowing and as the teacher picked up the boy, the kind little girl sitting next to him got a nice little surprise as he peed all over her.... Wah Wah

Sunday, September 5, 2010

First day of school

            Today was the first day of school. This term I am teaching at 2 private schools, DMZ& XMZ which are sister schools. Already have the first day jitters, my supervisor was 10 minutes late which made it even more stressful. I was stuck trying to teach to these kids without any idea of what to teach and without any supplies. Having no help at all, it seemed I was thrown in to the hot fire and had to find my way out.  Rather than having my own classroom, I go into different classes and teach the class in their homeroom. The kids are so cute and range from 3-5 years old. Many of them are smart and pick up on the words pretty fast so that should make things easier.
            As I was teaching the younger classes, I realized rather than going to the bathroom, they brought the bathrooms to them. As I was teaching, I was amazed to see one of the kids drop his pants be assisted by one of the Chinese teachers who held a bucket as the little boy peed in it. Not long after I see a girl drop her pants and sit on a potty training bedpan. Never would I have thought that  this would happen in my classroom. As time went on, more and more kids started to go to the bathroom right in the open in the middle of the classroom. All in all I felt to day was a good  first day. I know I have alot to learn, but sooner or later I'll get it down.
           After work I came home and went out to dinner with my roommates Mike and Francesca. We went to this dive, hole in the wall,  that had  pulled noodles. The place was down the street from my apartment and by no means would pass the health inspection code in the US. The restaurant  made the noodles on the spot by hand and they rolled the dough  right in front of you. It was pretty impressive to see that the guy could turn a fat roll of dough into a bunch of string thin noodles within a matter of minutes. The soup was so delicious and the best part of it was that it was only 5 RMB, which is less than $1. After all my expensive meals I have had here in China, it was nice to pay hardly anything. I know that I will be a regular here because the soup was amazing and cheap.
           After dinner we went home and hung out for awhile, letting our food digest before we went  to Alexandria's, which is this nice gym down the street from my apartment. Having no access to a gym, I decided it was in my best interest to join. We went to  spinning class which was such a great workout. I haven't sweat like that in awhile, so it was was very refreshing. From head to toe I was drenched with sweat along with everyone in the class. It was so nice to get to the gym and get the endorphins  pumping after a long day.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Crib in Shanghai

The wait is finally over.  The worldwide premier of  my crib has finally taken place. Enjoy!

FYI My room is shown at 1:58


After getting notified Tuesday afternoon that my schedule had been switched, and that I would be teaching 6 classes in the morning, I was a bit overwhelmed. To my surprise, I had a blessing in disguise when I was notified that all schools were cancelled due to typhoon warnings. This is a first for me, I have had flood,hurricane, snow/ice warnings but never a Typhoon. In honor of the typhoon,  A few of my coworkers and I went to  Andy's house, who is one of our supervisors, to hang out and play games. within minutes of getting into a cab it started to pour like crazy with thunder and lightning flashes. Between leaving the cab and entering her house, which was half a block, I managed to be soaked from head to toe. Like Oregon weather, the rain poured than stopped, switching every so often. Being on the 18th floor,  I had the genius idea to toss water out the window and  watch it fall as it soaked all the pedestrians down below. I found so much humor and entertainment in it and it made me feel like a little kid again.It was the perfect way to prepare for  teaching little kids.

Home Sweet home

After my return from Daquin for my school training, I was excited to finally move into my apartment for good. Although I was the second person to see the apartment of my roommates, Annie and I were the last to stay in it.  Upon our arrival we were greeted by everyone which made it feel more at home. I am living with 2 girls from my MAIS program,  Annie & Francesca, and 2 boys, Mike and Miles, who I was roommates with at Concordia during our summer session. It should be real fun group to live with. We made a trip to Carefour (like a Target)and Ikea to get our bedding and  other essential supplies. It amazes me how packed the Ikea was, row after row there were people buying things.

The more I see it, the more I am amazed.The drivers in China are out of control. They drive like bats out of hell and hardly pay any attention to what the signs say. It isn't uncommon to see cars and scooters still going when the crosswalk is green nor is it uncommon to see cars swerving in and out  of each other or cars driving backwards if they passed their exit. With how wild they drive, it surprises me that no one wears  their seatbelts. Unlike the states, cars do not slow down or move out of the way for police cars or ambulances, but rather just keep driving.

Having a few days to hang out before we start work, I have taken the chance to explore some of Shanghai. One of the days I went to the Bund which was packed fill with locals and tourists. The skyline was very hazy, which one might think was fog, but in reality it is filled with smog.  I am excited to be spending the next year in Shanghai because the city is so large and there is so many things to see and do.

Over the past few nights we have gathered with fellow MAIS students for dinner. It is very popular in China to have many different dishes and share them with one another.  It isn't uncommon to order 5-10 dishes to split.  One of the nights we went to Blue Frog, which is an American restaurant  that features delicious burgers and drinks  at half price for happy hour which they have every Monday. Blue Frog is also the home of the 100 shot challenge. There is a list of 100 different shots that are mixed together to make a tasty combo. Try them all  and you get your name on the wall plus some free goodies and a free drink each time you go  there.   So far Ive tried 2 so I only have 98 more to go, but on the bright side there is no time limit, so I have all year to do it.  Another night we tried a local place  that featured crawfish! They are usually out of season at this time in Louisiana, so I was surprised to see it on the menu. After ordering 2 orders, I was very sad to say that they weren't as good as I had hoped for. They were soaked in a sweet and sour sauce and didn't have much flavor to them. My biggest excitement had lead to my biggest disappointment.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Trip to Daquin

            As part of Orientation for my job, we went to a retreat center about 45 minutes outside Shanghai for training. Located in the middle of nowhere where we were blessed with the beautiful rural environment of China. Spending 3 nights and 4 days there, we reviewed the guidelines for the school and how to properly teach the students English. We also spent plenty of time bonding together and getting to know one another. With most of the new teachers coming from my MAIS program, there were a few others who came from Australia, New Zealand, and Italy.

            Trying to embrace the Asian culture as much as possible, I have tried every food presented to me. Some of the interesting foods that I have had were pigs feet, cow blood,snails, and a few others. My body is still adjusting to these foods but overtime I know I will just be fine. We were suppose to have a Chinese BBQ  one of the nights with over 100  kids that were China's national salsa dancers, who were at English camp,but due to the rainy weather we had to cancel. Instead we had the BBQ by ourselves but had food for over 100 people. We were BBQ'in non stop for hours literally. All the meats and veggies were on skewers which included, pork,beef,chicken,squid, potatoes,lamb and a few others.
Chinese BBQ
          The retreat center was a big plot of land that featured a bunch of wood cabins, a lake and river and lots of plants. The were a variety of animals including a bunch of dogs, some of which looked like the big dog in the movie Sandlot and stood about 4 ft tall. There were also some deer, swans, ducks, chickens, turkeys, camels, horses, and monkeys, just to name a few. Being there was very peaceful and was very relaxing and quite. It seemed as though you were in a separate world and  could feel the chi from mother nature.
 Although we didn't get to have the BBQ with the kids, we did make a visit to English camp to present awards to them. They even presented us with a show of their  routines. It was quite impressive some of the moves that they could do  and even at a young age, they were able to do some sophisticated routines and look very grace. All of these kids were very talented and I was not only suprised by their moves but also how well the spoke English and knew various countries flags.
Chinese Dancers @English Camp

            As one of the events for the training, we had a scavenger hunt, during this time we explored the large area to find certain objects. Whilst doing the scavenger hunt I ran into a few problems which were quite disturbing, these events included stepping into  a wet muddy area that spattered all over my shoes,socks,leg and pants. It turns that this mud smelt horrible and after further review it was identified that it was not mud but rather old human waste. Gross right?  This happened after I was attacked  by this demon monkey who is no friendly Curious George by any means. Luckily that little booger was chained up or else I would have had to go Ace Ventura on him. In the end when all said in done, my  my team won, so it was all worth it.