Xi’an

(So…I am WAAY behind on my updates…This one is about Xi’an and the next one will be a combo about Beijing and Shanghai).

We are in Xi’an, one of the former capitals of China.We got here on the 4th and we will be leaving this Thursday. While we’ve been here, we have had history classes every morning for a couple of hours.

Our daily structure has been go to class, have a quiz on the reading from the night before, we listen to two or three people give their presentations on the book they had chose earlier in the semester, we have a lecture, and then we are done at lunch time which gives us the rest of the day for whatever. I just finished my presentation. I am so glad that it is over and done with! My book was on the Opium Wars. I think that it went well. Everyone seemed to like it.

For food, most of us eat at the cafeteria on campus, but sometimes we will go and eat at the hole in the wall noodle shops. A popular hang-out for our group is the Village Cafe. It has some western food, some of the best milkshakes and hot chocolate ever, super friendly employees, annndd INTERNET. 😛

During our free time, all of us have to get our readings done, of course. If we didn’t read…we’d bomb the quizzes, which, I am not doing the best one. Some of them I have done fine on though. But two places a lot of us go to are downtown. The Art District and the Muslim Quarter. The art district has a lot of cool stuff. I got my ocarina there. It has a phoenix carved on it. I got my first experience bargaining, and the guy selling them gave me a lesson in playing it. In the Muslim Quarter, there is a lady, Helen, who does Bible verses in Chinese calligraphy as well as names in Chinese. She is super sweet, and does amazing work. She told me where I could go and get my chop (name stamp) in the Muslim Quarter and what a good price would be. I also got myself a Chinese English Bible while I was in Xi’an.

One afternoon, a bunch of us went up onto the city wall and we biked the 8 miles on it. It was a beautiful day when we did that. Another afternoon, we went downtown near the Big Goose Pagoda. We didn’t go inside (expensive), but we hung out in the parks nearby and then watched the light show in this huge fountain about a block or two away from the pagoda, which was really cool.

From here, we head to Beijing via train. Whoot!

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Service Project in Guizhou

We flew into Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province the evening of February 28th. We stayed the night at a hotel right next to the train station. The next morning, we departed on a train to Duyun, which is a large city in Guizhou. The scenery on the ride was gorgeous. As the train continued up into the mountains, the colder it got.

In Duyun, we met up with our hosts, bought rubber boots and work gloves, and ate at different places around the city. Four of us that ate at a Cantonese style restaurant with a larger group were put into a taxi, and we met up with four others that are from our group at the old train station. China Tim, me, Quin, Tiana, Steph, Kristin, Kayli, and Aubrey got on a bus that would take us out of the city limits to meet up with the rest of our group. On our way up the mountain, the bus got a flat tire. We stopped to get it changed, and we were on our way again. Farther up the mountain, we stopped again. Oil was leaking. Nothing could be done, so we waited until another bus came and picked all of us up. We got off at the next stop and piled into the two vehicles. Six of us jumped in the back of the truck and rode in the back (Me, Quin, Jesse, Chase, Tiana, and Tim) up to the ranch.

The family we stayed with raised Angus cattle. For the next few days, we helped out with whatever they needed done. A couple of the guys shoveled manure, there was a group that worked on the road, and there was a group of us that did posts. They are going to be planting blueberries, so we worked to get the fence posts into the ground. First, we had to dig up the posts out of one field and transport them to the other field where the blueberries were going to planted. After that, we dug the holes for the posts. And just so you all realize what we were doing when we were digging these new holes, some of them were easy to dig. On the flipside, our last hole was the worst. It took us over an hour to dig it. We had to sledgehammer and pickaxe through rock. It was a lot of fun though. It kept us busy. There was a group that mixed cement, and then we cemented the poles into the ground.

Working was great. And better yet, it kept us warm. It was definitely below 0 degrees Celsius. I’m not sure what the actual temperature was. Keep in mind, no central heating. Working kept us warm, and drinking hot water was wonderful. Ok, cold in the States…no. You can go inside and get warm again. In China, you know it’s cold when you can see your breath INSIDE.

I had a blast though. Yes, it was cold. And yeah, no showers. But I really enjoyed getting to see another side of China. The mountains are a gorgeous place. We hiked to the edge of their property and got to see the waterfall. So beautiful.

I got some pictures on the truck ride back down the mountain, too. Riding in the back of the truck down the mountain was so cold. All our faces were red from the wind, and they stung from the mist hitting any exposed skin.

Saturday, March 3rd, was when we came back down the mountain. We got to spend the day in Duyun. Me, Janelle, Daniel, Will, and Russ (one of the guys that works with our hosts) walked/hiking up the east mountain to the monastery up there. We walked around the town and met some of the cutest kids who hung out with us all for a while.

At the end of the day, we rode the train back to Guiyang and stayed at the hotel for the night again. The next morning, we flew to Xi’an for our history component, which is where I am at now. I’ll post some about Xi’an later.

Annnnnd we’re off!

Hi all. Just thought that I would post something to let you all know that I am still alive.

We’re about to leave for the Trek. We will be going to Guizhou province for our service project. Guizhou is one of poorest provinces poverty wise, and we’re going to be up in the mountains. A total rural China experience. Apparently the weather forecast is for 0 degrees Celsius and possibly lower. So we’ll be in cold, freezing, and possibly below freezing weather up on a mountain. The place we will be staying has no electricity, little running water, etc. I’m looking forward to it, actually. It will be a break from the city hustle and bustle. We’ll be there for half a week. Not really sure what it is that we’ll be doing. That is completely up to our hosts and what they need done.

After that, we are going to Xi’an for 2 weeks where we will be doing our history presentations and attending our lectures for our history class. Once we take our final, we will be off to Beijing and Shanghai for the remainder of the Trek.

We will be returning to Xiada at the end of March, so we’ll be gone for about a month. I will try to keep you all updated, but since I don’t know when I will have access to the internet (probably in the big cities, and not at all during the service project for sure), it may get even more irregular than my posts already are.

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Yup, that’s all I’m taking. My purse, a small duffle, and a backpack. That’s it.

No longer a teenager

It’s official. I’m not a teenager anymore. Yup. I’m 20. Strange thought. Anyway..yeah. I got to celebrate my birthday here in Xiamen. I didn’t have an official celebration, but a group of us went out to Dim Sum for a late birthday celebration for Daniel. We went to a fancy hotel downtown. Oh my goodness. The food just kept coming and coming. A lot of it was similar to dim sum back in the States. So good. It was all you can eat and the food was super good. It cost 78 kuai per person! It was worth it, but I don’t know if we’ll be able to afford to go back. 😛

Aubrey, Quinn, Tim

Aubrey, Quinn, Tim

Kristen, me, Chase

Kristen, me, Chase

Daniel, Will, Yili, Janelle, Tim

Daniel, Will, Yili, Janelle, Tim

Some of the girls had presents for me. Kristen and Janelle got me these super cute socks, and Aubrey knitted me a headband. It’s funny; I think this is the most pink that I have ever owned at one time since I declared my dislike for the color many years back. I don’t mind it quite as much anymore, but I still find it amusing that all three gifts had pink incorporated in some way shape or form.

The monkey socks were from Kristen, the headband from Aubrey, and the koala socks were from Janelle.

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Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day. Cutest thing ever. Yesterday morning (yesterday was Valentine’s Day for those of us here in China), Kristen (my roommate) opened our door and found 2 roses outside. Each had a Dove chocolate bar taped on it, and they had notes, one addressed to each of us. When we went to Chinese class, we found out that all of the girls in the group received one. All the notes were addressed to us individually, a sentence or two of encouragement, and a verse. We don’t know who it was. The writing is super neat and in pink pen. It was probably one of the guys on the team, but whoever it was, I hope they know just how much all of us girls appreciated their thoughtful gift.

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To celebrate V-day, most of us girls went out for some fun and dessert.

Kaylee and Steph

Kaylee and Steph

Tiana

Tiana

Aubrey

Aubrey

Me and Kristen

Me and Kristen

Lantern Festival

On the 8th, the majority of us took a bus to the mainland to go to the Lantern Festival at the Expo. Oh my goodness. It was gorgeous. Everything was absolutely beautiful. There were lights everywhere. Since we are students, we got in free with our ids. It ended up being a pretty late night, but it was so worth it.

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A Fixed Tooth, A Miracle, and a Thank You!

My tooth is fixed!

The inlay

The inlay

The inlay is in place and I don’t have to go back to the dentist until April 15th. Don’t worry, it’s just for a check up on the inlay. They want to make sure that it is fine in 2 months.

When I came out from the back, Tim made my appointment in April for me. Kept it nice and simple. It’s on a Sunday at 1:30pm. I got my money to pay and after a few quick words from the lady at the desk, Tim turned to me and told me that she had said that I don’t need to pay; it’s been taken care of. I looked blankly at Tim for a few seconds while what he just said sunk it. It wasn’t really registering in my head. He turned back to the lady, and the two of them exchanged a few words in Chinese. I took my appointment card, and the two of us left the building. As we walked down the hall, he told me that he had asked her who had done it and that her reply was “foreigners”.

I didn’t know what to say. I still don’t. Except for “Thank you, God.” There isn’t much else that can be said about that. Because of that person’s (those people’s?) generosity, I have money to live off of for the rest of the semester and figuring out how to get money out of my debit card (which, at the moment, is just about impossible) isn’t going to be as imperative a task as it would have been.

I thank you, God, for most this amazing day.

Dentist experience number 2

Hi everyone! So, I’ve got a new story for you all. Yup, it’s all about the dentist. And guess what?! I get to go back, again, next week!

So, I had done well with the temporary filling. It was starting to disintegrate, but that wasn’t a problem. I went back to the office today at 1:30pm. I had a couple of people come along for the experience as well. Janelle came so I wouldn’t be going by myself. Then, Daniel decided to join us. Tim was only going to show us the way there, but since it now “seem[ed] like a party”, he decided to stay. I am so glad that they all came. I would’ve been freaking out otherwise. And having Tim there as the voice of reason (as well as the person that could speak Mandarin) was super helpful and comforting.

Alrighty, so, we got there and sat down at a table in the waiting area. One of the receptionists brought us all some steaming, hot water to drink. Don’t bash it, it’s good and it keeps you warm. I got called into the back room with a bunch of people. One of the assistants spoke some English. She explained to me that since the hole in my tooth was so large, they were going to have to do an inlay. Don’t know what that is? Google is a wonderful thing. I had three options – a 6,000 yuan option, 5,500 yuan option, and a 5,000 yuan option. I definitely only had 2,000 yuan with me. So, I got up and walked out of the room to go talk with Tim, Janelle, and Daniel. Tim ended up coming back to the room with me to ask if I could pay the 2,000 now and bring 3,000 yuan later. That was fine. So, he left to go back and hang out with Janelle and Daniel, while I got to sit back and have 2 to 5 people hovering over my mouth at different points in time.

They gave me a numbing shot (which is still in effect, btw), and then proceeded to drill away at my tooth. Once they finished that, I rinsed out my mouth and they took several different molds of my teeth. Both the top and bottom sets on the left side of my mouth. Then, more putty was stuck into the hole of my tooth. Once that dried, they covered it with some sort of other paste. Another temporary. Great. So, I currently have a new temporary filling in my mouth.

I go back in exactly 1 week for the inlay. So, next Sunday at 1:30pm, I will be back at the dentist office for (hopefully) the last step in fixing this tooth of mine. I have a week to exchange and get the rest of the money that I need.

Just so you can all have a guesstimate of how much this costs.. 5,000 yuan equals about $790 US dollars. Sounds like fun, yeah? No, not really. But hey, as long as this tooth gets fixed.. That’s all I really care about at this point. No more pain. Just pray that this temporary doesn’t pop out before my next visit, yeah? If it comes out before next Sunday, then that’ll be another trip to the dentist for another temporary filling.

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