Saturday, December 11, 2010

Still Alive.. Barely

13 weeks into the term and I have already slacked on my blog numerous times, falling behind and forgetting to update all those back at home. But just be glad that it is my blog I'm falling behind in and not my studies. During the first week of the term, we had 43 students post their assignments online . This week, the total was 27 at the time when it was due, one of which was myself. It seems that many of my classmates have fallen behind and at one point or another and has been a little late on their assignment... that is except me. Working at the school 40 hours a week and exploring the city and nightlife on the weekends I feel that I have been able to get a well rounded experience thus far. I can confidently say that I have been living up my time in Shanghai and making the best of it.  I find it kind of ironic that I am so busy being social, yet I am up to date with all my assignments while others who sit around and seem to have no social life, are the ones who are slacking.

some highlights of the past 2 weeks included playing basketball with a guy named Kevin who I played with last time. Planning my day, I figured this would be a relaxed little game of pick up basketball and would only take up an couple hours out of my day, little did I know that it would take up the whole day!  I met up with Kevin and a few of his friends and we played pick up games for about 4 hours straight. It was really fun and nice to get away from all the stresses of school and work. Afterwards, we went to dinner at a very traditional Chinese restaurant in which they ordered food for days. For the first time ever I had pigeon soup which was actually pretty good.

This past week of classes have been full of observations. On Wednesday, I had  parents watching me teach one of my classes. I’ve decided that I absolutely hate teaching in front of the parents because they it is a bit nerve racking and looking at their facial expressions they always look so mad. They have little emotions shown and it is hard to tell what they are thinking and not to mention the killer of them all, the electronics. Being Asians, the parents love to bust out their cameras, cell phones and video recorders and record everything, which can be overwhelming when there are about 20+ of them  going off in the room. The following day I was observed by my teacher Prof. Wyman who sat in on my class to see the progress I was making. To say the least Prof. Wyman is an interesting character that can be VERY socially awkward. After my class he invited me to go with him to lunch. Thrilled at the chance see my college tuition going towards a good cause, I took him up on his offer since it sounded much better than the school lunch. Last time he did an observation with Leila, who worked at the school I am at now, he took her to Pizza hut, so I was hoping that I would get to go there also.  Unfortunately for me there was no quick trip to Pizza Hut, but rather a sit down Hot Pot lunch, which was down the street from my school. Hot pot is a very time consuming meal in which there is a burner in the middle of the table that cooks up a broth and you put meat and veggies in it to cook it. Prof. Wyman picked all the items that we were going to eat, which included a horrible variety. He picked 2 different kinds of meats and noodles, Cabbage, lettuce, and spinach, sweet potato, potato. As I ate thinking what a horrible meal this was filled with tons of salt and essentially the same food, he raved about how wonderful it was and how he would love to make another trip back to it. For an hour and a half, I painfully sat there with him in what was one of the most awkward conversations I have had. It was so bad at some points that I acted like I was eating so that he wouldn't talk. After we parted ways I went back to the school and had 2 more classes to teach. My first class went fine but about 10 minutes into my second class I felt like I was going to vomit and and i knew it was linked to eating the hot pot. As I look back on the situation, I should have declined the offer to go out to eat with Prof. Wyman because it would have saved me an hour and a half of awkward conversation and from getting sick. On Friday I had one of the busiest days all term. In 4 of my classes, I had parents observe my class, which made me exhausted. Trying to impress the parents with the student’s performances I did everything in my power to make the class run flawlessly.  Unfortunately enough for me some kids will always be bad regardless the situation but the feedback I received was positive and a lot of the parents were smiling at one point or another.

My roomate mike is an adventurous guy and a big advacate for Couch Surfing, in which people offer their couches for others to sleep on. He has updated his profile and allowed people to stay on our couch in the mancave. A few weeks back we had 2 Chinese girls stay at our places, but this week we were blessed with the opportunity to host 2 Blonde SWEDISH girls named Ellen and Matilda to stay a few nights on our couch. Fresh out of high school they have spent the past 3 months traveling the world with plans to travel for another 6 months. It made me very envious of the opportunity and the adventure that they were going on. They were very nice girls and I'm glad I was able to meet them. We also had another girl from South Korea come visit. She was a friend of one of the Chinese girls that stayed before. Unfortunately for her, someone took her bag and her passport was in it, and  she will have to wait a few days to get a new one so her stay is a big longer than anyone expected.

It is hard to believe that in less than a week I will be picking up Scott from the airport. It seems that it was so long ago that we were talking about him coming to visit me and how far it was. Well now it is right around the corner. In preparation for his visit, I have been busting my butt to finish all my homework before he gets here. The term will finish on Saturday, but he gets here Thursday so I need to have my work done so that he wont be sitting around while I do it. I am down to 3 assignments left, but two of them I will have to wait until later to do. I am not sure that words could describe how excited I am to have him come, it will be such a nice breathe of fresh air and a great way to close out the term.

For the longest time, I have wanted to get a massage and today after working on homework for 5 hours, I decided that it would be well deserved. Directly right in front of my apartment a message place opened up less than a month ago. I decided that I would test it out and see if it was any good.  Having minimal Chinese, I went in there hoping that I would be able to get a good old fashion rub down. Inside they had a big board filled with all the prices and services but everything was in Chinese, luckily for me some of the staff could speak a little English and I was able to get the gist of what they were saying.  Rather than trying to figure out what the board said, I ended up getting an hour-long oil message since it was one of the first things she said. Essentially it was just giving me a message using baby oil.   I was escorted up to a room and told that I had to shower before I got my massage. Hoping that I wouldn't get a massage by the old lady that I passed when I entered the place, I was relieved to see a young pretty girl appear in the room, which made my massage that much more enjoyable. Oddly enough, she knew who I was and asked if I was the same person that passed the store a few days earlier and waved with another guy (Mike). I told her it was me and she giggled and said I was silly. After laying on my stomach and getting massaged, I was flipped over and this is where things got weird.  As She stood by my head I looked up towards the ceiling, she insisted I closed my eyes, so I did. As she was massaging my head I could sense her face very close to mine sniffing me like I'm a bouquet of roses, taking deep breathes as she inhaled my aroma. With my eyes closed and trying to figure out if this was creepy or sexy, even though I kinda liked it,I did my best not to make any facial gestures or laugh. After a good five minutes and switching from my left side of my face to my right, she finally stopped. Once finished I paid upfront and then gave her a tip. She looked a bit startled that I tipped her 30 RMB($5), since tipping is very rare in China, but was very grateful for it, especially since it was about 3% of her monthly salary.  To say the least, this was definitely an interesting massage but it was much needed and not bad for for $35.

Thank you China for Spoiling my Thanksgiving

Whoops! I thought I had posted this awhile back but I guess I didn't but here it is!

Another weekend over and I am back on my grind. As always it seems that my weekend was not nearly long enough. Filled with loads of homework and as much sleep and relaxation as possible, I find the weekends do not do nearly as much justice as they used to, but they are still what get me through the week.  One of the cool things I did this weekend was go to a bar called shelter.  Located in a once bomb shelter, hence the name, the bar is about 30 feet underground. There is a main room, where the bar and dance floor is located and then various tunnels that lead to other lounges and rooms. Although it was not particularly my scene as far as music goes, it still was a good time.

While many of you were blessed with the opportunity to spend thanksgiving with loved ones and a nice day off, and not to mention the mounds of delicious foods, I on the other hand had to work since obviously they do not celebrate here. After putting in a 9-hour day I met up with some of my friends from the Cohort to have a thanksgiving at a bar/restaurant called Bubba’s Texas BBQ. Craving mash potatoes, turkey and Pumpkin pie, the rest of the essentials of a thanksgiving dinner, as always I brought my large appetite. Originally we had booked a table for 11 people to come but after various issues and people bailing, it ended up only being 5 of us.  Bubba’s was pretty full, with a layout of a house turned bar, the place felt very crammed. We had reservations for 7:30 but to our disappointment after going to the buffet and scrounging up some niblets out of dire hunger, they wouldn’t put more food out until 8 o’clock. Once 8, it was a mad dash to the buffet with loads of expats waiting to get their taste of Thanksgiving dinner. While the food was decent, it was not nearly worth the $45 paid to get a little taste of home. The food had no Tender Love and Care and it was nothing special. Although it did somewhat fill a part of my heart that was missing, nothing will ever compare to a Gregory Thanksgiving which is the most hyped up event of the year, and a guaranteed good time.
 On Friday morning, I woke up early to call the family and video chat with them during Thanksgiving. Everyone seemed to be having a good time laying around hanging out together and of course eating wonderful food. It was so nice to see everyone but at the same time a disappointment because I wasn’t able to be there.

For the first time in a few months and in China, I played basketball. I met up with one of my friends named Jackson and his girlfriend Mariyana, both who are from New Zealand for lunch. We went to New York Deli cafĂ© and got these monster burritos that were probably a foot long and weighed 2 pounds. Rather than sitting in the small little eating area, we decided to go to the park and eat outside since it was a nice sunny day out. At the park there was a gated basketball court filled with people playing pick up games. Thrilled at the chance to play we   ate and then went onto the courts. Not properly dressed to play, I was wearing jeans and Jackson was wearing flip-flops but were determined to play. Jackson ended up playing bare foot and the Chinese guys thought he was crazy.  Regardless, it was a good time.