Monday, August 30, 2010

Dining Out...

Last Sunday one of my favorite families here asked if I wanted to go out to eat with them. I of course said yes, they remind me of my family growing up and I have so much fun with them. Their daughter and me at her age are so alike it's not even funny (only she is not bratty, like I was!!). She is totally into basketball and soccer. They are so sweet and always make me feel like I'm part of their family. It is these relationships that I value. It's amazing being in China and forming these tight connections. I hope to keep in touch with them and many others after our time in China is finished.

Anyways, so in this restaurant you get to go pick out your food. Sounds normal right? Well, only in China do you pick out your food raw. It was a major task because of course the language barrier and things look different before they are cooked. We ended up getting some yummy food, fortunately we didn't get the following...

Nicole and Trejan letting me know how they feel about the food :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Eighties party

We've learned to make our own fun here. Two weeks ago ( I know I'm slacking on the blog) we through a New Kids on the Block party for the new teachers at our school. (I created the invite above) Who doesn't love a themed party? I had to laugh at how easy it was to find eighties gear to wear out. I found the perfect shirt at the first store we stopped in for less than 5 USD. The sales ladies were pulling out all their best clothes, not aware we were buying them for a costume party. After getting our clothes Kara, Veronica, and I (aka Megonika) decided to get our nails done for the occasion. Mine are still painted two weeks later and I have never gotten so many compliments on my nails, from Chinese people and kids alike. I hope you can relive the rad 80's in some of my pictures...

Jess and me

Some of the boys...

Emma, Alan, and me...they work with me

The girls

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bugs, Spiders, and Sea Creatures oh my...

We had a girls night and went to the Dalian beer fest. It was a sight to see. Drunk Chinese people, bugs on sticks, and random variety acts being performed. I didn't get down to the festival last year and it was talked about all year. So this year I was going to see what all the talk was about. It was typical with thousands of people walking around except this time there was plenty of drunk Chinese people. Instead of regular street meat (chicken heads, hotdogs, etc) there was classy street meat...


Beetles and lizards

Tarantulas, silkworms, grasshoppers, and mystery insects


Veronica and Kara chose a seahorse...they both ordered one. The man behind the table quickly fried them up and salted them a little. His wife asked for the money...140 yuan (about $20)!!! We were like no way, we don't want it...finally after sign language we got them down to 100 yuan. They ate their seahorses and enjoyed every Not really, they said it was crunchy and the head was gooey. I am proud to say I did not try one...I think I might have lost it. It was worth the money just to see their faces and hear about it.

I also had to show you the style for men here when it is hot...simply just roll up your shirt and stick your belly out. So simple and yet so classy...

Overall it was a great night, even though I was jet-lagged and almost falling asleep at the tables. I missed my girls and it was so fun to reconnect in Chinese fashion.

Eastern Medicine

Eastern medicine believes in natural healing. Jess and I went and got our ears "waxed" and while we were there we saw someone getting cupped. Cupping is very popular here. I have seen countless people with the leftovers of a good cupping session. It was bizarre to watch as this woman lit a rag on fire, twirled it around in glass cups, and placed them on his body. It looked like it hurt, and when I asked in my broken mandarin if it did he said yes. Just look at how his skin is sucked up in those little cups. I had to be sly to get this picture...

Meanwhile I was laying comfortably on my bed watching with a waxpaper cone in my ear. I first got this treatment in Malaysia and loved how it felt during and after. Jess and I decided to treat ourselves to an ear waxing and head massage. Ah the simple joys of living in the land of eastern medicine. :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ain't No Place Like Home

My time at home was a reminder of how blessed I am. It was spent with a lot of family and good friends. Over the past year I have kept in touch with quite a bit of people (shout out to Skype, Facebook, and emails), but it just isn't quite the same as catching up in person. I'm so thankful for my family and friends. We had a great time while I was home. Until next time...just a glimpse of some of the most amazing people ever.

Summer Travels

Normally for me summer is laying by the pool with a book, hanging out with friends and family, and preparing for my next year in the classroom. This summer was a little different. I basically travelled around the world. In the beginning of the summer I took some courses for professional development in London. We had a brief stop in Beijing to check off some touristy stuff before heading to London. After London it was on to the land of gelato, Italy. Stops in Florence, Venice, and Rome proved to me why I love all my Italian friends (food, love for life, and pride). Next up I took a quick trip home to South Carolina to get filled up on love before heading back to China for another year. My time at home was very relaxing and filled with friends and family.

The Forbidden City

My courses in London were amazing. I did a program through TTC and it was amazing. I realized I was totally in the right profession because I was a geek and loved both courses and networking with teachers from around the world. Internationally teachers are different. They have passion and dedication to the learning. Innovative ideas and changes to old practices were pushed and it made me that much more passionate about teaching.

In London we had class everyday from 8-5 so we didn't really get to do much gallivanting around town. The first day we did some touring. We hopped on the tube and went all around town. I have to say the thing I loved most about London were the accents. It was also way more diverse than I was thinking, but then again that could have been that I had been seeing mostly all Asians for a year.

London Eye in the Background

Big Ben and Me

Guards at Buckingham Palace

From London we were off to Italy. We arrived in Rome. We were in London just long enough to get used to hearing English. It i amazing how not knowing the language I quickly reverted back to body language to get by in Italy. We took the train to Florence and were there for 2 days. We saw the Duoma and much more, but decided not to wait over 5 hours to see the David. It was a wise decision...this way we had time to climb to the top of the Duoma (967 stairs in a tight spiral) and eat lots of gelato. We also did some shopping at the street vendors. The first night Jess and I went to this amazing dinner at La Escalareta, a restaurant that overlooks all of Florence. We got there right as the sun was setting and it was so beautiful. The food was amazing, I loved the platters of cheese and meat. Coming back from dinner we walked around the town and fell in love with the Florence culture.

Bird's Eye View from the Duoma

Nutella Gelato...I'm in Heaven!


The Top of the World

After Florence we were off to Venice. We took another train and arrived to a hot city of Venice. It was cool to ride through to city on a boat, but crowded and hot. We stayed at a place right near St. Pedro's square and it was great. The restaurant at the hotel had amazing lasagna. The streets of Venice were hot, but we quickly adjusted to planning our walking in alleyways with the ever important shade. We spent three days roaming around and checking out the people, places, and history. We went to a fun wine bar and had great food and wine there. We learned that when a restaurant advertises AC, it isn't always the case. AC can mean giving you thick menus that you can fan yourself with. Of course Jess and I had to go on a gondola ride. It was nice, but expensive. Our gondola had been doing it his whole life, and learned from his father who learned from his father. I asked if he was going to teach his son and he said, "No, I have a daughter." I didn't realize women couldn't do that, but when I looked around I never did see a woman in the famous black and white striped shirts.

Carnival Masks

Canals of Venice

Being Silly at Dinner

Really Cool Architecture

Pizza anyone?

Rome was the last stop. The history was amazing. I couldn't believe how well all the ancient buildings stayed intact. We saw everything we wanted to see, but paced ourselves. We covered the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Stairs, Coliseum, Vatican City, other random churches, and much more. Of course there was an ungodly amount of gelato consumed as well. The line for the Vatican city was rediculous. Fortunately our hotel had tickets, so we didn't have to wait in the line. I did however have to wear jeans and running shoes to get in. I looked oober touristy, but it was a small price to pay in order to see the Sistine ChapelSistine Chapel, the amazing Basilica, and more historic pieces at the Vatican museum. It was breathtaking to crick my neck up while listening to the story of Michelangelo painting the ceiling. It looked so real and lifelike. I loved the fact that the reason all these paintings were done was to bring God closer to the "lower" people that couldn't read or write. Pictures portray a lot, they aren't just for little kids. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the Sistine Chapel or Basilica because I followed the rules that were posted everywhere saying NO PHOTOGRAPHS...I'm just saying.


A Bridge I Liked

Churches Galore

Inside Vatican City

Fresh COLD Water

Vatican Museum Stairway

Trevi Fountain

Columns was a Major Theme

Great Sculptures



We spent one day going to the Coliseum and ancient ruins. We started out at the area next to the Coliseum (I am blanking on the name). We walked the path the people back in the day would have used to get to the city. It was neat to think of who else had their feet on the same path I was taking. The architecture in Italy is amazing. So many churches with such detail, but what impresses me the most is how good they still look. After thousands of years, you can still see what they are. We made our way to the Coliseum and it was HUGE. For some reason I thought that it would be open in the middle, I guess I saw Gladiator one too many times. After reading about it, they built it up in the middle for one of the leaders families. I did learn one interesting thing about the fighting, I thought it was only for gladiators but apparently not. At least one emperor ordered his guards to toss unsuspecting spectators into the arena, for various reasons. The victim may have previously angered the emperor. Or, the victim may have been a complete stranger but the emperor disliked the way he was behaving in the Coliseum of Rome. Sometimes the emperor's motive was simply to amuse himself by randomly selecting a spectator to meet his death in the arena. It's crazy to me how they were so ahead of their time with all the architecture and art, but how barbaric they were.

The Coliseum

Ancient Ruins