Saturday, July 8, 2017

Obon 2017

If you know me, you probably know that the Obon Festival is my favorite tradition!

This year was my 17th year dancing.  Can you believe it?!  I've got these dances down, man.  They threw 3 new songs at us this year, though, so that kept practices interesting!  We went to two practices this week to prepare for tonight!

Putting on a kimono is no simple task.  It is quite the process, actually, but my sweet grandmother takes it upon herself every year to iron out our kimonos and then dress us properly.  All after feeding us a delicious dinner, of course!

We are so grateful to our sweet granny who does so much for us!

As per tradition, we got some pre-Obon pictures.  Someone had a great idea this year to use Grandpa's corn as a backdrop!  I love how all these pictures turned out!

After we were all ready, we headed up to the Japanese Buddhist Temple in Salt Lake City.  We met up with Auntie Corinne who joined us for her first year!

Also waiting for us there was Kylie's family as well as Bailey's!  Bailey took the camera in order to get some dancing pictures of us.  Dancing pictures rarely turn out good because we are moving.  Plus it was overcast and getting dark, so that make the shutter speed even slower!

For my round fan this year, I used the silk fan I bought in Suzhou!

All of a sudden we started noticing a ton of lightning in the distance!  Then the wind picked up....

And then the rain!  Oh my gosh it just poured!  We had only made it to intermission when we decided to not risk the lives of our $80(!!) fans.  In what felt like a hurricane, we rushed back to our car parked in the parking garage.

Sad!  We were SO excited for Obon this year, and were disappointed to have to leave early.  Especially on the year that Kylie and Bailey's family came too!  However, being rained out 1 out of 17 of my Obon years is a pretty good record.  And, we did have fun for the first half!  It's such a gorgeous festival with all of the bright colors and lit up lanterns!  The Obon Festival is a festival to honor our ancestors, which makes it extra special. 

We weren't ready for the night to end so we went over to the Salt Lake Roasting Company for some lime Italian sodas!  Going to the SLRC is an old tradition of ours.  We used to go every year until they changed their hours three years ago!  Now we can never make it in time before closing.  Unless we get rained out during intermission, of course.

There I was able to get a picture with my handsome Bailey.  I think he looks so cute in the happi coat!

We then returned our traditional clothes to Grandma and headed home for the evening.  Overall it was a fun and enjoyable night!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Our Last Days in Changzhou

Last night I cried and cried thinking about leaving China.  Today is our last day here, and I am so sad to be leaving!  I have come to love so many people here that I've had to and will have to say goodbye to and that's just sad stuff.  I've fallen in love with the culture and the food.  I could seriously live off of noodles and dumplings!

This may sound silly, but I feel a sense of belonging here that I've never really felt.  Like, all the clothes here don't have sizes and fit me perfectly!  The hair accessories are strong enough for my thick, slick Asian hair.  And everyone here is obsessed with cute things!  I love that it is normal here to act awkward and giggly, because awkward I definitely am.  I guess it is an Asian thing?  Not only do I have similarities with the people here, I just feel like they are overall very kind and accepting to all.  They don't care what you're wearing or if your hair is never in anything but a ponytail, and the no makeup look is the usual look.  I know I shouldn't feel self conscious in America, but sometimes it is hard when I like to roll out of bed 10 minutes before class!

Another thing that may sound crazy: I'm a fan of the language barrier.  I love not being able to communicate with people!  I like to not be obligated to social interactions.  I know enough Mandarin to get by with the simple stuff, and Google translate is good enough these days that I really don't have anything to worry about except a dead phone battery.  I'm a little nervous to be back in a world where I understand everything and have to respond to everything!

Despite these things and how sad I am, of course I am very excited to go home.  I am excited to see my family especially!  But I'm also excited to see my beautiful mountains, drink tap water, and breath clean air.  I can't even imagine a blue sky anymore, it is always white here!

We've had lots of fun this past week to celebrate our last days here.  I've blogged about some of it, but here are some of the little things that we have done!

We enjoyed the night market one last time!  I will miss the night market so much!  Bailey tried a new treat that Shey recommended.  It is fast frozen (liquid nitrogen?) cool whip and giant cereal pieces, covered with fruit.  I though it was weird, but Bailey sure had fun with it!

Bailey also loves the crawdads at the night market, but rarely buys them because they're a more expensive option.  But what better night to buy crawdads than your last visit to the night market?!

Little Sadie took all four of her first grade teachers out for dinner!  It was actually a really awkward experience as we showed up two days early because of a miscommunication.  They took us out anyway!

Last week we all went out for fried dumplings for Dillon's birthday!  We will never get enough fried dumplings!

Last night we tried to say goodbye to Monica and Andrew but we were too sad, so we pushed our goodbye to tonight!  Last night was delicious, though, we ate at Grandma's Home.

We also watched some little kids in their roller skating lesson.  These lessons have been popping up everywhere!  They're so freaking cute!

I can't believe how small some of the little roller skaters are.  Like, this kid looks hardly old enough to walk!

Those are just some of the things we've been doing with our spare time!  The rest of our time has been filled with packing, blogging, and Netflix watching.  I can't believe it is all ending!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


I love our campus!  It is so nice and cute!  Today I took my last walk around it to take some pictures, just in case I someday want to look back and remember the place I lived for four and a half months!

Here is the view as you enter campus.

Don't you love our fake yellow leaves?

Near the entrance are a whole bunch of these little libraries where kids can borrow books and put them back!

If you keep walking forward you can find the courtyard of their school.  That is where we pick them up for classes!

To take them to class, we had to climb up a whole bunch of stairs to the fourth floor.  Every couple of steps had a wise quote on it!

Here are two of my classrooms.

This is the building where the kids sleep.  Still trying to understand what it says on the wall!  Fun fact: their apartment building is called "Snore Island".

Our apartment building is called "Growth Tribe".  Not sure why!

If you exit our building and walk towards the cafeteria, this is what you see!  It is quite pretty!

The kids eat in this building.

Us faculty goes around the building to our door, where we get slightly better food than the kids.  If that rumor is true, I feel really bad for the kids.

Sometimes I like to climb that little rock wall.

Outside of the cafeteria are a whole bunch of freshly painted pictures on the ground!

There is also a nearby giant chess set.  Behind it are fountains, but they only go on when the parents or visitors come to the school!

The kids have a small, old playground hidden behind the cafeteria.  It never gets used so I didn't find it necessary to take a picture.  For their "recess" they mostly just play in the field or on the track!

Near the field are a whole bunch of plant figures.  A personal favorite of mine are these elephants.

The monkey fountain is cute too, especially when it is on!  Behind it is a cave you can actually walk through.

There are really just a whole bunch of random things on campus!  I still can't figure out what this walkway is supposed to be.  Bailey sees lotus leaves, but I see the spine of a giant dinosaur or something.

Our garden is so cute!  I've posted about it before.  It is kind of overgrown right now.  And filled with loud frogs!

Last but not least is our dumpster.  Definitely not the right size for all the teachers and students who live here.  But its cuteness makes up for it!

I do love our little campus!  It is very safe and we are happy here.