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

Campus

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.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Teacha Bailey's Dinner Party

Bailey's cute 4th grader, Anna, texted him the other day inviting us to dinner with her and her family.  When they picked us up tonight, Anna told us (in her amazing English!) that we were actually going to a restaurant and would be meeting up with four of his other students!  It was a party!

They didn't just take us to any restaurant... they took us to Summer's, one of our favorite western restaurants here in Changzhou.  They didn't know it was one of our favorites though!

Bailey and I ordered a hamburger meal to split, but ended up eating WAY too much food because Anna's mom ordered a whole chicken, a whole bunch of wings, pizza, cheese fries, yogurt, and fried shrimp for all of the table to share.  Then she disappeared outside with the other parents, so it was up to Bailey's five students, two little sisters, Bailey, and me to eat it all!  I think we did pretty well.  The food was so good and it was so fun to meet and visit Anna, her little sister Cincia, Birdie, her little sister with a Chinese name that I can't remember, Parker, Jerry, and Francis.  They all just LOVE Bailey!  The girls were so excited to take lots of selfies with him.  With all of the normal Asian filters, of course.



This is Birdie's little sister who was just adorable!  She wanted to hold my hand all evening!

The girls, when they saw my phone, helped me download these apps so that I could join in on the fun, haha.  This whole time, I was munching on the bayberries that Anna and Cincia picked earlier today.  I love bayberries!


After a while, the kids grew weary of sitting hanging around a table, and asked their parents if we could walk around the mall.  The parents loaded their kids up with money (Qing Ying is an expensive private school, and ILP kids pay double tuition, so you can imagine what kind of families these kids come from) and sent us on our way!


Bailey and I were just following the kids, and for some reason Anna wanted to go to Starbucks.  She had remembered that Bailey said he doesn't drink coffee, so she ordered us some hot chocolate which was really thoughtful!  Then the kids bought ice cream and we were on our way to the fourth floor!

Malls are so weird here.  The fourth floor of this mall was just for kids, and was like a mystical maze to walk through.  It was really fun to see!


Our destination was this little arcade with only claw machines.


I took this picture of Birdie's little sister's hair so you can see what typical little girl hairdos are like here!

Anna won a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal which she gave to Bailey and a little Totoro which she tried to give to me.  But how could I keep it when I saw little Cincia shriek and hug it the moment it fell out of the machine?!  Cincia is insanely adorable.  She balanced the little Totoro on her head for the rest of the night!


That was pretty much all we did tonight, but we had so much fun!  Anna's mom drove us back home and gave us a tea set that Anna's art teacher had painted.  It is gorgeous!  And already packed away, otherwise I'd show you a picture.  They were so generous with us tonight, we feel very loved and appreciated!  And very sad, thinking about leaving and never seeing our students again.

 Jerry, Parker, Anna, Cincia, Birdie's little sister, Birdie, and Francis

Their "silly faces"

Saturday, June 17, 2017

KTV - A True Chinese Experience

I'm not a huge karaoke fan, but when you're in China you have to do KTV!  Or at least everyone says you do.  A KTV is basically a big karaoke place, where you rent a room and play karaoke with your friends in it.  It is also the main center for prostitution, as you can order girls to your party room and plenty of alcohol.  They employees were surprised when we didn't want to order either of those, haha.  Anyway, KTV is super popular here, and everyone goes all the time to party it up, so that's what we decided to do to celebrate Shey and Petro's last night in China!

We took the bus over to the mall where'd we get dinner and go to KTV.  It was very crowded!  Since that is very typical of buses here, it was only fitting for Shey and Petro to have one last busy bus experience!


We met up with Monica, Andrew, and Jessica who is working for China Horizons over in Suzhou.  We ate some delicious Italian food before heading over to KTV.  The KTV place looked like a casino!  So fancy!  It was a very nice and clean place.


KTV was fun!  I've been sick so singing wasn't much of an option for me, but luckily they supplied the room with maracas and tambourines, haha.  There were endless amounts of songs to pick from, so we were able to rock out to all of the American hits!  The boys really cracked us all up.




We only paid for an hour in there, but it was plenty of time in my opinion.  What a fun night out with our friends!  I probably wouldn't pay for another KTV experience... but I'm glad that I can finally say I've tried it!