just a short note

I don’t really feel like writing a whole thousand words like I usually do, just wanted to let you all know it was Sabrina’s real birthday today, we went out after dinner, bought some clothes and then went to Starbucks.
Was one of my favorite moments, when we were sitting at the little table eating our slices of Marble Cheesecake. Hope you’re all having a nice day(:
Posted new pictures on flickr, I encourage you to look at them: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bright-
Will post pictures of me in new dress as soon as I’m looking decent, possibly tomorrow.

“For lack of a better title, Buying Things”

“For Lack of a Better Title: Buying Things”

Once again I apologize. My computer has taken to being ridiculous when it comes to wordpress, and so I can only post at school…I’m going to email this to my friend Tyler and he’ll post it for me. Fun stuff.

Today, October First, is the first day of China’s National Holiday, which is an awesome week off from school where most people go and travel around. Two days ago, Wednesday, the foreign students were told that we had only a half day of school, so we went…but were told that we didn’t have any classes. We were planning to go out to lunch anyways so we just decided to all go out and explore the city together. I changed into street clothes, as did Moritz. Then, we were off to we-didn’t-know-where because Sang Min is/was in Korea (Klaus, also, but he never comes with us). We took the bus, and got off at the depot, where we walked around for a bit, took another bus and ended up in a giant book/dvd/music store. Technically we went to Walmart first, but there really wasn’t much to do there…we ate KFC and Midori bought a school bus pencil case with nonsense-English on it. I also bought my first perfume ever ( !! ), Nina by Nina Ricci. The bottle is shaped like a little adorable not-symetrical apple. It’s sort of a mix of fruity smell and what I call ‘couture smell’, which is that really strong “fashionable” or whatever smell. Burberry tends to be couture smell, same with Juicy. I’m personally not a fan, but because this is also fruity I like it. We ate lunch at KFC and when there I opened the perfume to put some on…only to realize I had absolutely no idea where you’re supposed to put perfume. I mean I know when you’re trying on perfume at a store you put it on your wrist…so then with Pauline’s help I put some on..my wrists and chest. It smelled for like, a few minutes but then I stopped smelling it. Is that what’s supposed to happen? Or is it a bad perfume? I do not know.
We left the shopping center and started walking in one direction randomly, but the street we went down didn’t have any stores, so we hopped on a bus Moritz knew went to a large store he had told us about on multiple occasions. This store turned out to be a mall of sorts filled with randomly assorted DVDs, CDs and books. Yes, most of it was pirated. In fact, I’d say…90% of it was. You could see the dvd’s being burned right there… pretty crazy stuff. It wasn’t shady at all though, very open and lots of customers. I bought Juno (which according to my housecleaner is not pirated), seasons 1&2 of Pushing Daisies, seasons 1-3 of Weeds, and a bunch of CDs: Recovery (Eminem), a Snow Patrol compilation, three cd’s of Glee music and Congratulations (MGMT). I’m nervous to put some of it in my computer, so as of now all of this lies untouched on my desk. Also, please take into note, I have very little experience with piracy so when I bought everything I didn’t know it was pirated. I’m not even sure if it’s technically illegal here, because there’s very few copyright laws as far as I can tell. In all honesty, I don’t know what most of the laws in China are. It’s hard to tell sometimes…my host mother finally returned home that night, which was really exciting because she’d been gone two and a half weeks.

Anyhow, after we were done walking around the giant store (it literally seemed endless), all of our feet hurt like –insert curse word here- and we were hungry also. After walking down the block and realizing we couldn’t read any menus, we decided we should go to Pizza Hut. Of the group of us, only Karina had been there since coming to China, so it was relatively new. We considered grabbing a taxi, by this point it was only Moritz, Karina, Midori, May & I, but figured we could just take a quick bus to walking street. We walked to the Papa John’s (close enough, right?) Karina and I had gone to briefly with Sang Min on another occasion, only to find it boarded up. Desperate and tired, we settled for McDonalds. Upon arriving, I promptly fell asleep at the table, and was woken up x-number-of-minutes-later by Karina, saying we were all going home. I said I was taking a taxi and headed off to the best place to get a taxi on walking street (it’s nearly impossible) but then kept walking to this shopping center, where I…

Got my eyebrows done!

I can’t even express to you how amazing I felt afterwards. At home, I’m supposed to get them done every two weeks but hardly manage that…but regardless my eyebrows were a mess. When the foreign students had previously gone shopping, we had walked by Benefit (for those of you who don’t know, a makeup brand from San Francisco, there’s one in the Stoneridge mall) and I was really excited…I had seen it yet another time when I was by myself buying spaghetti, because it’s in the same building as that supermarket. The sight of the familiar manikins with their cursive speech bubbles was very comforting to me, as well as the sign reading Brow Bar. I spoke a little Chinese to a woman standing there, very very basic with lots of pointing. At first she was saying that there was no one there to do my eyebrows for me, but after me saying over and over I only understood a little of what she was saying, she yelled “WHITE PERSON!” and a woman came running, who then did my eyebrows.

Yesterday Sabrina had school, so I awoke to..no one home. Again. Story of my life here, haha. Anyhow, my mom had tried to wake me up for school but I told her I didn’t have school so I got to sleep in, which felt amazing. I lazed around all morning, not really doing much of anything, on the computer and listening to music. Ate mostly waffles (bought a bunch at Walmart the previous day). At one got a text from Sabrina “at two mother take you airport see your uncle”, so I jumped into action, taking a shower and doing my hair, trying to make myself look presentable. I thought Jonathan, Xixi, Bohan & Nina (also Xixi’s parents) were coming on Friday so I was taken completely by surprise.

Waiting for them at the airport..was insanely exciting. You have to understand that my cousins, Bohan and Nina, are probably two of my favorite people in the whole world. Of course, I love my other cousin Ray just as much, but he wasn’t visiting me, was he? I also usually get to see him more often than Bohan and Nina because he lives much closer. I stood staring out the glass at people spilling out of doors and down escalators…all Chinese. I was searching for small children and the tall bald head of Jonathan. Waiting, waiting…and then there! Nina wearing giant glasses, hands clutching a bright pink backpack, talking to Xixi, Bohan with Jonathan. I waved and Nina saw me then everyone else did..honestly I was so happy I almost cried. I love them so much! That and the fact that I’m five thousand miles away from home and can still see familiar faces in the flesh. When they came through the gate, I think I might have physically been bouncing a little. The first hugs I’ve had in weeks. Euphoria.

We all went out to dinner, which was fun. Tomorrow I’m going on vacation with them to some national park, it should be beautiful. I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures. Today…

I exchanged money! Finally! I’ve been here six weeks exactly, and at last I have my own cash to spend! It’s a great feeling, let me tell you that friends. The fact that I literally have giant pile of money like in movies helps this, but also I’m just very relieved. Until now the not-exchanging-money situation had been pretty stressful, so I’m glad that it’s over and done with. All of my traveler’s checks have been exchanged.

After this exciting momentum, we all went shopping. I bought a really cute black skirt…it has layered lace over a black fabric with roses..I’ll try to post a picture when I get a chance. Oddly enough, most of the stores were playing songs in English…I heard a lot of Glee and Justin Bieber. I’m honestly pretty scared that I caught myself singing along (with correct lyrics, mind you) to Justin Bieber today…it’s not something I ever intended to know or be able to do. After more shopping and lunch and more shopping (unsuccessfully attempting to buy an iTouch) we went home. A fun day.

I Don’t Know, Peanut Butter with your Spaghetti?

Well, this past Saturday is one that I surely won’t forget anytime soon.

Initially, it wasn’t much different than previous Saturdays, I woke up and got on the computer. Not a great habit, I know, but I try not to go on quite so much…I try…anyhow, the previous night I had suggested I cook us all dinner–me, Sabrina, housecleaner , and Baba.

Sorry to interupt, but Midori is singing loudly what sounds like nonsense. Got Moritz to videotape, hopefully I can put a link in my next post. Wow, she’s into this…singing “FUN-KEY” and doing disco hands. This is hilarious, especially now that Midori has explained they’re singing about blood types A,B, and O. You guys will love this video…. will put up soon, I promise.

Anyways, I had a quest to make spaghetti for my family so at noon I was off, traveling alone for my first time in China. Midori is being really distracting by singing so cutely and off tune. Sorry I’ll try to stay on topic. First I went to Walmart and got peanut butter, jelly, pocky, skittles, and pre-packaged gifts from God named Danco Waffles. Then I went to the bank to once again attempt to exchange money…and was happily surprised. There was a woman who spoke English working there, and they all knew what traveler’s checks were. I was given a form to fill out, and everyone was eager to help me. I thought I had filled it all out, and handed it to the woman. She checked it over and was nodding when she realized that I hadn’t put my address. I didn’t know my address. – Side note: Midori is now watching one of the videos Moritz just took of her and is singing along to herself – Sabrina was in school so I called my dad, asking him what our address was, to which I got my official least favorite phrase of all time: “I don’t know”. I gave the phone to the bank employee to talk to him, and then I got the phone back. He told me that he would take me another time….I’ll relay to you our conversation:

Baba: “Next time … I will take you … bank … exchange money!”
Me: “But I’m at the bank right now! I just need our address! What is our address!”
Baba: “Do you need money?”
Me: “yes! I have been here a month and haven’t exchanged any money!”
Baba: “come home and I will give you money”
Me: (improvising) “I don’t have enough money for a taxi. I don’t have money. I cannot go home”
Baba: “come home and I will give you money, next time I will take you to the bank”
Me: “I need money!”
Baba: “Come home and I will give you money”
etc

So I give the phone back to the woman, hoping she can talk sense into him, but to no avail–they hang up, and I have to pack up all my stuff and leave. Once out of the building, I immediately begin crying because I’m a very emotional person. So there I am, Asian-squatting outside of the bank with a bunch of groceries but nothing that I can produce a meal from, sticking out like a sore thumb because of my ethnicity and the fact that I’m crying. Just to disprove that cliche myspace icon, when you’re walking in the rain, people CAN tell you’re crying. Just to clear up any confusion.

So I walk for a while and grab a taxi that’s driven by the first female taxi driver I’ve seen since I’ve been here. I go to a supermarket that Sang Min told me has spaghetti, which turns out to be on walking street. I give money to a poor homeless man who’s only protection from the rain is a garbage bag, and also to a man with no hands. Here, homeless are completely ignored and seem to get no help at all whatsoever from the public. I could write a whole post about how horrible it is…but perhaps another time.

I buy spaghetti and sauce, and realize I’m running out of money. I’m right near a Benefit San Fransisco Brow Bar but I don’t have enough time or money to get my eyebrows done, much to my dissapointment…so I get lucky and steal someone’s taxi, which I wouldn’t have done under normal circumstances but I really needed to get home. My day wasn’t really going well. Oh, I forgot to mention–I got friggin clipped/hit by a motorbike outside of Walmart. Great, huh? I was accidentally on the motorbike part of the sidewalk (which is really small) and was running to the walking part when some guy hit me…I didn’t fall over or anything and he didn’t stop, but I can’t say I enjoyed the experience, and it certainly shook me up.

When I arrived home at last, I didn’t know when to start cooking. Had no idea when Sabrina would get home from school…but apparently I guessed too early. By the time I was done cooking spaghetti (without any butter or olive oil, because I forgot to buy any) and had heated up the sauce with a wok (something I would not reccomend), no one was home to eat it except for the housecleaner. She suggested I eat some but I wanted to wait for everyone else (presumably meaning Sabrina and my dad). Inevitably, the spaghetti soon was stone cold…finally Sabrina came home and it became evident that my dad wasn’t going to. I attempted to reheat the spaghetti in the wok, but there was some previous meal burned onto the bottom and it coated the first plate of spaghetti I dumped in there…so I threw away the spaghetti, the housecleaner washed the wok, and then I began reheating everything together. It didn’t get that hot and tasted like crap. I told them it wasn’t going to taste good because I didn’t have the right ingredients…while we were eating I heard them talking (in Chinese of course) about how it tasted bad…then they got out the jar of chili peppers and put it on their spaghetti and said it tasted better. I was offered some, as well as the peanut butter I had bought before, to liven up my meal.

My attempt at making American food was a failure. Hopefully next time, I’ll be a decent cook. I have to be given credit, though, this was second time ever cooking spaghetti on my own, and I didn’t even have the correct utensils and was being barked orders at in Chinese the whole time by the housecleaner, who was attempting to help me cook spaghetti in the most Chinese ways possible.

The song Midori was listening to about blood (not her singing it) : http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTgxNDQzNzky.html
Another of Midori’s favorites, which includes saying “sky high” numerous times while they claim they’re..from? New York City: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTA3MDQ3MDI0.html

The Mid-Autumn Festival

Despite the fact that today is the first day of autumn, yesterday was the Mid-Autumn/Moon Festival.

I know, I know, it makes absolutely no sense that it was yesterday. I mean, there probably was a full moon but it’s not like we could see it with all the smog. The Mid-Autumn Festival is just an excuse to eat mooncake and see family and not have school, it would seem, which is all right by me! Technically, I was supposed to go to school in the morning, but my sister didn’t have school and so I woke up at nine (which is when I should be at school) and I was supposed to get out at 11:20 for the holiday ANYWAYS…so I didn’t go.
Instead, I woke up, went on the computer for a little bit, ate a large breakfast of only carbs, attempted to install Chinese on my computer for an hour (unsuccessfully, I might add, the language bar says I’m typing in Chinese but it’s quite obvious I’m not) and then was told we were going out to lunch. So I redid my pigtails, noticed it was raining, and put on jeans, a long flannel shirt and (to my excitement) boots! It was the first occasion upon which I have been able to wear boots in Changsha, let alone a long-sleeve shirt. The other times that it rained it was still pretty warm, but it was very windy and cold (still is today) which was an appreciated change of pace.
And then we were off. Driving, driving, somewhere. No idea where. I’m still at the point with my family that I never have a clue where we’re going or what we’re doing…at least on this occasion I knew we were going to eat. Neither of my parents are home (it’s been a week and a half, well more like two weeks, of this now) and so my aunt and her daughter have been staying at our house. Sabrina is constantly doing my cousins hair. The two of them are either both playing games (on the iTouch or on Sabrina’s phone or computer) or Sabrina is doing my ‘little sister’s hair while my ‘little sister’ plays one of the mentioned games. It’s quite a system they’ve got.
Anyhow, we drive to the apartment where some family members live. We’ve been there before. We eat lunch there with some aunts, a grandma, and a little nine-year-old boy cousin that I think of in my head as “Grubby”, because, to be honest, he is. Honestly, I really don’t like him. He’s pudgy and is very piggy when it comes to food, eating with his hands and shoving food in his mouth. He’s also sort of a little brat because I think he’s the only boy on that side of the family, and the gender difference lets him get away with being a brat. He didn’t like what my grandma made for lunch, and so he sat next to me scowling and tapping his bowl with his chopsticks over and over again. I don’t know how long he actually did this but it seemed like a VERY long time to me. Finally he decided he was too hungry to be a pest so he began shoveling food in his mouth and then promptly got up and started annoying other family members. I don’t really know if they were annoyed, though, they acted sort of like “oh, well, you know how little boys are…” about it, which annoyed me even more than he did. I don’t know, maybe I just get a bad vibe from him. No way to be sure.

On a happy note, my grandma made a delicious lamb…I don’t know what the marinade was but I loved it because it tasted like something I would’ve eaten on a rainyday like that in America. It was comfort food. I complimented it heavily, and was told she made it just for me(:

We said our goodbyes and we were off, driving to yet another undisclosed destination. We came to another apartment building, where apparently the Aunt that’s been with us lives. So we went into their tiny apartment and…nothing. I thought we were just dropping by, but we stayed there for..four hours? I think. Watching some Golden-Globe-like awards show that wasn’t very entertaining. There were very few preformances and when saying the nominations, there were no video clips. Speeches were extremely brief and applause limited. Of course, Sabrina grabbed the computer as soon as we got there, she and my little sister (whom I gave the English name Annie, at her request) took turns using…logging onto their QQ’s and IMing God knows who. Sabrina looking at more pictures of Justin Bieber.

After about three hours of being extremely bored and frustrated, I finally got to go on the computer for a half hour. Didn’t really do much but it was better than nothing. My phone wasn’t working, either, so I couldn’t have been texting any of my friends…my Aunt had tried to fix my phone but to no avail. I asked if I could exchange money and she said yes, so at four off we went.

Long story short, the bank said no. It’s a holiday. Don’t know if it would’ve worked on a normal day, either.

Then, we went to dinner, even though I wasn’t hungry at all from my huge and amazing lunch. We went to my grandpa’s younger sister’s house, picking up Grubby No. 2  on the way. Grubby No. 2 is my other nine-year-old-boy-cousin who’s not as bad as Grubby No. 1 but still bugs the crap out of me. Why, you ask? This is the cousin who must always be playing games on someone elses cell phone. Always. Always “Ni de shouji? Wo keyi…” blah blah blah (oops, forgot, translation: Your cell phone? Can I…”). And he also never sits in the car, he’s always standing really close to me and I don’t like it. Makes me uncomfortable. Anyways.

We ate dinner. It wasn’t great, not going to lie. I wasn’t hungry and the food didn’t make me want to eat any more. The kids were watching a somewhat-disturbing TV show featuring a pig in a superhero costume as the main character. That, I’m fine with. The fact that the “bad guy” is a very tall ‘pig’ (pig face, human body) wearing a Superman costume without the label, is a little weird to me. Also, the bad guy takes out this wand thing, waves it, and the scene cuts to actual Legos building into some giant monster, which then appears in animated form, and the show goes on with this creature now being used as a weapon. Freakiest part of the show was definately the pig-headed, human-bodied teacher, wearing stereotypical female-suit and ugly 60’s glasses, who had very large boobs. I think she was a blond, also. Not really something I ever wanted to see in my life, but what can you do?

Just when I thought the random, unexplained day was going to end, I was told we were going to see Inception. Now, at this point I could have fallen asleep right there. The thought of watching a movie as long as Inception…well, it was daunting. I thought it was going to be in Chinese, also (fortunately, it wasn’t).  On our walk there, we went through a side-street of the famous Walking Street (I believe I’ve blogged about that…? if not, there are flickr pictures). It was very cool, I liked it a lot. Some parts were quirky, as is to be expected with China. There was a Santa Claus hanging in a window, with the seasonally-challenged wish “Merry Christmas!”. In one of the malls of walking street, we were walking by one of many lingerie stores when out of the corner of my eye I saw Angelina Jolie’s face. I turned to actually look at the advertisement, and there she was…except I knew that the body attatched to her head wasn’t hers. No, her head had definately been photoshopped onto some poor girl’s body, along with a badly-done bellybutton peircing. Wasn’t quite sure what to make of that.

We had a lot of time before the movie, so everyone else had a second dinner of KFC, and I had ice cream (still wasn’t really hungry…). Then, we saw the movie, which was much better the second time. Finally we headed home. Got back at around 11:20, I stayed up until 12 writing a poem and Skyping with my mom…forgetting that I had school the next day. Sabrina and Annie didn’t, so they were fine with staying up late…

Sabrina told me, “if you want to go to school tommorow you can take a taxi”, which to me means “no need to go to school, since you don’t know how to get a taxi”. I was woken up at 8:44 by Vala, my teacher, calling me and telling me to come to school…(school starts at 9, I might add, and is a 20-minute drive minimum). I took a shower, got dressed as slowly as possible, ate two mooncakes for breakfast (healthy, right?) and then damn, I got my very first taxi. On my own.
Makes me proud.

Spagetti

Sorry I haven’t posted for a week, school was boring and gave me no inspiration, and then when I finally did have something to write about, wordpress wouldn’t work on my laptop, due to my sister hogging the internet watching Korean TV shows on her computer while doing her homework, as usual…my favorite thing, I assure you. Seven minutes to load one internet page? It’s great, I assure you. Just peachy.
Anyhow, school is very dull. I don’t feel like I’m learning too much about anything besides myself…all of the courses are middle-school level. Right now I’m typing this during my two hours of free time during lunch, whilst trapped in the Beautiful Prison called “Chinese Culture Library”. I believe I’ve told you about it before…anyhow, my weekend was pretty fun, so I’ll let you know about that. Saturday morning my sister had school, so I stayed at home on Subeta (this nerdy virtual pet site I’ve been obsessed with for a few years now…) for the whole morning. I knew we were going to “Happy Birthday Grandma Lunch” (as my father called it) but had no idea what time, because I hadn’t been told. Luckily, I thought to put clothes on, but didn’t shower or anything. My hair was in a messy, dirty ponytail, and my bangs were sticking three inches away from my forehead, because I had brushed them to show my sister and someone on Skype how funny it looked. Sooooo basically I looked like crap? and then my mom comes in, pulling a dress over her head, and says “Let’s Go!” (one of the ten English phrases she knows). Freaking out, I take a few minutes to pull all of my hair back into a ponytail, which it does verrrry reluctantly, and aided by a headband, I manage to make it all lay relatively flat on my head. The downside? I now look like some sort of ugly bird. I put in my fork earrings, a touch of mascara, and we’re off, Sabrina jumping in the car still in her school uniform. Lunch was good, with a lot of Dad (I think)’s family. Then we went back home and Sabrina and I were left to do nothing because when asked what I wanted to do I said “I don’t care, it’s up to you”, so apparently that means “Dad will play tennis, Mom will play Mahjong, Sabrina will watch Korean TV on her computer, and you can scream in your head because the internet’s so slow!”
So I called Sang Min and he and I walked around Sabrina’s school and the little stores nearby. I got stared at incredibly, as usual, and for the first time in my life saw a woman tell her toddler to poop on the sidewalk. Which he did. And I had to walk by….
So now I know why it always smells like a dirty bathroom. Because the ground IS a dirty bathroom.
So that was more fun. He left, I went home for dinner, and then we decided we were going to go to a movie. We were going to see the Expendables, (which I didn’t realize because the Chinese name translates into some awkward weird title) but that was sold out so we saw Shrek 4 in 3D. It was all in Chinese, no subtitles or anything, but I understood some of it and found it quite funny, actually. We didn’t buy any food for the movie (“too expensive” Sabrina told me, even though *I* wanted popcorn and *I* wanted to buy it for *myself*, but whatever) so we had lollipops and dried mangos… good stuff. We were going to see another movie after Shrek 4, but they were all sold out.
Sunday morning I was told we were going to “Mother’s hometown”. Nothing else. It was really hot so I put on a sort of…skimpy outfit. It’s not too bad by American standards, and I guess it was fine cause they let me wear it, but still very summer clothing. No one told me we were going with a ton of family members to meet a bunch of other family members, because it was my Mom’s Uncle’s birthday. So…yeah. Sort of awkward, but surprisingly I didn’t get as many stares in the country as in the city. A nice change. In the historic area, I got these pretty earrings and a little glass-blown pig, that I saw the guy make! I took a picture, will upload when I’m at home. I went shopping with Sang Min later that day, we went to the supermarket and bought string mozerella cheese (oh man, it was amazing) and spagetti sauce and shampoo. And then we went to his house and we made spagetti! Let me tell you, that was the best spagetti I have had in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever gone two weeks without real spagetti ever…I mean I tried some here before but it was crap, and this was realllly good. We bought Tomato-Basil sauce, which was also delicious. It overall was a very good weekend.

Alas, this post wasn’t very funny either…sorry to dissapoint, I’m very tired. Almost fell asleep during class a few times today…we spent the night in the Tongshenghu Hotel last night because our apartment doesn’t have water…the bed was nice, but we had to try a bunch of different hotels and we drove around a ton and checked in really late. The first hotel we tried, I should have taken a picture, it had a sign that said “No fireworks, pets, watermelons, or taken away items allowed”.

At last, the First Day

Unfortunately, I don’t think this post is very humorous. Just informative. Sorry in advance.
So today was my first day of school, exciting stuff. I woke up, got my hair wet, changed into some clothes, got my bag, went to breakfast with mama. I think I’m the first white person to go there, one of the waitresses must’ve told the cook staff because all the chefs took turns peeking their head out the kitchen door to look at me. The noodles were good, then off to school. We were supposed to get there a half-hour early to get our books and uniforms, which wasn’t really true because they didn’t give us anything. We were just led to our first class, Chinese.
Which was ridiculously easy. We had two teachers (three classes, first two with one, and the last one with another). The first one was young, and seemed like she had never taught before because she was nervous…we ‘learned’ extremely basic Chinese (Ni Hao, Zaijian, Wo, Ta, Ni, Laoshi, Tongxuemen). For you non-Mandarin speakers out there, that means Hello, Goodbye, I/Me, He/She, You, Teacher, Students. Things most people already knew, even if they had never taken Mandarin before. We then did the vowel sounds (which can be hard) and be pe me fe. I can’t really explain be pe me fe to people who haven’t taken Chinese before…my best advice would be to search on Youtube for “Chinese Alphabet Song” and some annoying thing will play, and you’ll sort of get it.
The second teacher, Vala, is one of the AFS people, and she’s really nice. A good teacher, too, she taught us useful words for talking about Tongshenghu (my school). She also gave us a little geography lesson so we knew about Changsha and the Hunan province in general.
Finally, after 120 minutes of that, (with ten minute breaks after each 40 minutes), it was lunch time. The only upside to this was getting to hang out with everyone and talk…no one likes the food the school has very much. After we eat, we have around two hours to sit in this “Intercultural Library” (that we are the only apparant users of) which we aren’t allowed to leave (except to go to the bathroom). It’s like a very beautiful and boring prison…we’re trying to figure out what we’re going to do there every single day. Probably cards of some sort. Moritz had his iTouch, but that got old after a while and only two people can play a game at a time. So yeah, we chilled for a while, not knowing where our next classes were, or if we were getting uniforms or books yet. We talked to Vala and she gave us books (but not enough for everyone, and missing some subjects) but still not uniform. Then off to class.
In my class I have Moritz, Pauline and Karina. Maybe also Guilia, but she was in the hospital apparently for some unknown reason. Hope she’s okay. We didn’t know how many students would be in the class, so we sat in the fifth row (there were like twelve) where there were four non-broken seats in a row. Turns out, the other students only filled up two rows…so we stood out by our clothing, ethnicity, AND where we sat in class. Great. Walking to the classroom had already gotten us stared at by an entire army of small Chinese children. Forty brown eyes staring at you and pointing excitedly. I said I liked it before…now it’s just getting a little annoying. When I went shopping with my sister, people were turning to stare at me even more, one would get a glimpse of me and tell their friend who then would also look and point. I really want to make a shirt that either says “I know I’m white” or “Don’t stare, please”. In characters, of course, so it would throw them off. Maybe. We’ll see.
Anyhow, I had Chemistry, Music, then Physics. Chemistry was sooooo boring. These kids must’ve never been taught any chemistry in their whole lives….and very little science for that matter. Today they learned what a hypothesis was, how to do an experiment (which was in the complete wrong order, along with their definition of hypothesis, but whatever) and what an atom was. No one had ever heard of an atom! Like, holy crap! They didn’t know protons or neutrons or electrons! This is China!
Music was the highlight of the day by far. The teacher is Chinese-American, and only speaks a little Chinese. He was very…Athenian-like, he was all over the classroom, asking individual people questions and being very excited about writing on the blackboard (yes, we use blackboards. No whiteboards to be seen). He gave us all sheet music for “The Rose”, which I remember from somewhere, probably chorus at one point or another. Anyhow, he played it on his keyboard, and I hummed along. We then began dissecting the music, and I was the only one who knew any of it. I felt very proud. Julie, (my piano teacher), if you’re reading this, be proud! I was talking chord progressions and everything!
Physics was…weird to say the least. We talked about heat the whole time, and my teacher kept talking about polar bears. I’ll try to paraphrase part of his lecture: “So polar bears eat. A lot. And then they go into the snow hole and they sleep for FOUR MONTHS! And when they come out, it’s amazing! It’s amazing! They are like SUPERMODELS! So if you want to look like a supermodel, all you have to do is lie in your bed for four months and never eat anything! -laughs nervously because no one says anything- Just kidding! If you do that, you will die! -more nervous laughter- You are not a polar bear!”
Argh, once again, I can’t capture the quirkiness of the lecture…I can never do Chinese people justice! You have to take into note that he has an accent and was speaking verrry slowly, so the Chinese students could understand him. Which I don’t think they did. Oh well.
And that was my day. Not too interesting. Ahhhh I just wrote so much, I didn’t want to write that much! Not about that, at least.
I wanted to write about yesterday! Because yesterday I went to my friend Sang Min’s house! He’s Korean and a boarder of sorts at Tongshenghu. He lives in the teachers dorms, so he has his own little apartment with two bedrooms, a balcony, a living room, eating space and kitchen. His fridge is stocked with fruits. His house has cracks in the ceiling and “Don’t listen to what Mom says” written by the door in Korean (the last tenant wrote that apparently). He has a TV but it doesn’t work, and his ‘mattress’ is about an inch thick and as hard as the wood plank it lies on. His parents are in the brush industry. He’s considered a foreign exchange student because he was one last year, and then just decided to come to the school again. He’s the only person I text on my phone, haha. Hope that doesn’t sound ‘stalker-ish’ or whatever, but two hours of nothing in the library gives you a chance to learn random facts about people. Anyhow, I went to his house to hang out with him and some of his other friends, a Korean foriegn-exchange-y boy who’s name I can never remember (I think of him as Klaus from the Baudelaire series because his glasses are the same shape, so that’s just what I call him in my head), a Korean girl who’s name I don’t know, and a Chinese girl named Pei Pei. They were all very nice, and had just returned from a trip to Walmart (that’s where everyone buys their groceries), and decided they were going to make lunch. Lunch ended up being dinner, which were sandwiches and dumplings. The sandwiches….well….
Basically the worst sandwich I ever had. Pei Pei said not to say if I didn’t like it, so I just ate it anyways. You’re probably thinking “sandwiches are good, Miranda was just being a picky eater!” but no, I assure you, this was no normal sandwich. Picture this: three pieces of bread. Mayo and ketchup spread on all of them. A giant undercooked scrambled egg. Just-cooked ham. Cut cucumbers and tomatoes. Corn (which I cut!!) off the cob sprinkled amidst it all.
Really not a good idea. Don’t try it. I mean, it wasn’t HORRIBLE, once I got used to the taste it was okay, but that first bite…wow.
Anyhow, they finished cooking and were going to be late for class, so they literally ran out the door and back to school, leaving the kitchen a complete mess. I mean, I have never seen a kitchen this dirty in my life! Ketchup and mayo everywhere, an unused bowl of corn, a pile of scrambled eggs, dumpling/wontons still on the stove, piles of ham, dirty knives and whatnot…
And Sang Min had just cleaned before they got there.
I helped him clean up the best I could, but mama came to pick me up about fifteen minutes after they left so there wasn’t much I could do. He’s a great friend though, I would be super angry if anyone did that to me, but he was just accepting of it, a sort of “well that’s what they do” attitude.
He gave me a ‘Happy Cow’ (those little things that bob their heads when the sun’s out) just because, and is going to give me Chinese lessons during our extra study time on Fridays. He thinks I’m one of the nicest people he’s ever met (not sure why, he’s beating me by a lot so far). As he teaches me Chinese, I teach him English. It’s a good system.
I texted him “mmk” before I got to his house, and when he saw me he asked “What is M M K ?” I told him it was a combination of “mhm” and “okay”, he was confused a little at first, but then understood. “Oh. Mmkay.” he told me.
Life is good.

‘No One Wants to Be Defeated’

As you may or may not know, Karaoke is VERY popular in Asian countries. VERY popular. So popular, in fact, that in some (most?) cars, where a GPS system would be in American cars, there is a karaoke screen. And how does the karaoke come in?
The radio.

Awesome, right? I don’t know how the stations are organized (they seem to be pretty random English and Chinese music) but it’s pretty darn cool. Some of the words are incorrect, or spelled wrong (‘gose’ instead of ‘goes’), but overall I really like it. My host father apparently read the handbook and told me that I can call him Baba (father) and my mom Mama, so anyways, Baba likes Michael Jackson and sang along to Beat It, which was funny and cute. Mama was sang to the Chinese songs, and Sabrina made fun of her parents.

Speaking of incorrect English, I find it hilarious that many people in China wear shirts that have English words on them that don’t make sense. Just like, random words in some order. They’re aesthetically pleasing, I suppose, but I wonder if the people who wear them have any idea that they’re wearing nonsense.
I mean, some of the shirts just have very…’Asian English’, like Sabrina’s PJ shirt that says ‘warmer for you family’. Sure, there’s only one letter missing, but I believe they think that that is correct grammar. Which is fine. Just is funny to me.

Back to music, anyhow, Sabrina LOVES Justin Bieber. Like, has tons of pictures of him on her iTouch, he’s her background (both phone and computer), her QQ (Chinese instant messanger) icon, etc etc. It’s really cute(: I asked her if she had a boyfriend (you’re not allowed to date in school here) and she said ‘Justin Bieber’. Sounds good to me.