Farewell Banquet

My table at the farewell banquet

My table at the farewell banquet

Ma ling and me

Ma ling and me

Dr. Jay, Yili, and me

Dr. Jay, Yili, and me

The boys

The boys

Picture of the group

Picture of the group

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Language

I have my Chinese 102 final tomorrow. I’m taking a break from studying right now. I get to update you all after a while, and i get to give my brain a slight rest. Two birds with one stone. Now I just need to switch my brain’s language track back into English at full force. This might take a bit, but I don’t want to get too far away from Chinese. I still need to brush up on my self introduction for the oral part of the final that is in the morning after this.

I was analyzing the amount of Chinese that I now know and weighed it against my knowledge of Spanish. I have come to the conclusion that my level of competency in Chinese and Spanish are about the same. I’m not entirely sure how much Spanish I remember/retained from 3 years in high school and that one semester in college. Chinese, on the other hand, is pretty darn fresh in my mind. But honestly with the amount I can communicate with others (very, very little. 一点点。muy muy pocito.) alongside my ability to grasp an extremely loose grip on what the situation is and what they are saying (provided that the situation is an extremely simplistic one, they are speaking slowly, and I can observe everything around me), I have to say that my Spanish level and Chinese level are about the same at this point.

So, for those of you back home, apologies in advance for the 3 language sentences. Not gonna lie, it’s pretty amusing hearing English, Spanish, and Chinese coming out of my mouth in the same sentence. My brain does a darn good job confusing them. Or I might be looking for a word that I don’t know in the language I happen to be in, so it gives me the word in another language. For example – wo me quiero dormir. My brain keeps mixing up “wo” and “yo”. If it takes me a while to say an extremely simple sentance…This is probably going to be the reason why.

Well, back to my studying. Laterz! (I went through way too many possibilities of saying goodbye…in too many languages. That’s it. Back to Chinese.)

We’re back!!

We’re back!! No, I’m not back in the States yet. I still have a month here in China. Oh my gosh. I only have 4 more weeks here. Eep! Now that is an odd thought that I don’t even want to contemplate yet.

Well, got up nice and early to register for classes. Curses on the time difference between China and California. I had to get up at about 5:45 to fix my schedule so it would be set for registration at 6:00. After I got everything settled, I went back to bed for about 2 hours. That got me rested enough to start the day so I got ready and got breakfast downstairs. I packed everything up into my backpack and duffel. Yep. Even after buying everything that I did on the Trek, everything still fit in those 2 bags (and my little purse). Score.

All of us were stuffed into taxis and rushed to the airport. It took us quite a while to get there. If ANYONE in the States ever complains about traffic again…just..no. Not even. I’m pretty sure we almost died about 7 times. At least. I wasn’t paying attention to the minor almost accidents. That was the “we almost got crushed by vehicles twice the size of this taxi…We’re gonna die” incidents. But we all survived. We all made it to the airport. And we all got onto the plane on time. And that is all that matters. As Chase put it, “It was an adventure.”

The plane ride wasn’t bad, nor was the bus ride back to Xiada. Oh my goodness, the way everyone was on the bus compared to our first time making that drive from the airport to the university….nothing in common. This time, everyone was stretched out in any way comfortable, joking and totally at ease with each other. This is what happens when you stick a group of 15 people together and then have them travel around China together, experiencing the things that we did. It was kinda funny though.

When we drove onto campus, it was like…oh my gosh, you guys, we’re home! Even more so when walking back into our room. I seriously felt like I was coming home. That I am home. Xiamen is home for us. At least, in China it is. All of us have missed this place. Even better, we are going to get to have an entire weekend to rest and destress (and prepare!) before classes start back up on Monday. I’m going to be taking Chinese 102 in the morning, and EPR in the afternoon (Eastern Philosophy and Religion). I’m looking forward to both of those classes.

Well, it is getting later. I should probably find myself some dinner. I’m also really wanting to head down to the beach tonight. Spend some time alone on the beach, read my Bible, have a chat with God, and simply be. Sounds good to me.

I’ve caught you up on the entire Trek more or less. If you want stories, email me and ask. I’ll do my best to come up with some for you. I survived. I’m alive. And even better, I’m home.

I’ll update you all later. Maybe I’ll get around to posting some more pictures for you to see.

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

Year of the Dragon

Gung Hay Fat Choy! (I know I know…It’s Cantonese when I am learning Mandarin. Oh well, it’s the one I know how to say.) Happy New Year everyone! Last night, we attended a banquet that was for the international students of Xiamen University. We got to toast to the new year with the president of the university. He came around to our tables. The food was so good! It was a 14 course meal. We had crab, shrimp, soup, duck, pot stickers, fish…the list just goes on.

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Toasting to the new year

Toasting to the new year

After dinner, at about 7 or 8pm, we tuned into one of the main tv channels in the guys’ suite and we watched this tv program that they put together for this. SO much more entertaining than watching the ball drop at midnight. There were comedy skits, music, dancers, etc. It was really cool. Think Beijing 2008 but with less people and at a smaller scale. I think that all of sixteen of us were in that little room at one point. We didn’t understand basically all of it, but some of the group was coming up with commentary for it. Some was way out there, but some of it actually wasn’t that far out of the ballpark. One we got pretty close to figuring out. I stayed up watching it till midnight with some of the guys.

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Tonight, all of us walked towards the convention center. We didn’t make it all the way before the fireworks started. So, we found a raised hill on the side of the street to go up on, and we watched the show from there. The fireworks were cool. There was a ton. The show went for about 40 minutes straight. However, as we were walking back, I saw some more going off behind us. Spring Festival has begun. Classes resume in the morning for those of us in CSP, however, the rest of the campus won’t be coming back until sometime in February when their classes start back up again. Well, I need to do my reading for tomorrow’s afternoon class. The year of the Dragon has started. Happy New Year! 🙂

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We are here!

So, a lot has happened since I last updated you all. The biggest, being that I am in CHINA. We arrived at Xiamen University on the 18th of January. I had a very special trip that I got to make after getting all my stuff into my dorm room. That story will be in the next post because it deserves its own title.

Now, back to China. Oh my goodness. I know that we haven’t been here very long, but I love it here. There are plenty of things that are different. And, yeah, the language barrier can be difficult at times. However, I really enjoy our group and I am really looking forward to the rest of this semester.

While we were at the YMCA in Hong Kong, it really felt like we were at camp. Here in Xiamen, it really hasn’t hit us that we are in school yet. It doesn’t feel like it. We have had classes. Heck, we had our first quiz on Thursday morning in Chinese. (Side note- so many rules and characters and tones to memorize!) Homework has started as well. Even so, it doesn’t feel like we are at school. Even with classes.

We have had a lot to do the past couple of days. We had papers to fill out, things to do, errands to run, and a quiz to study for. The internet was an adventure to get set up in our room. We’re still getting it figured out…by the time I post this, I’ll either have internet set up in my dorm room OR I will have made a trip to the library to use the internet. (I ended up on Kristen’s laptop) Another adventure that most of us have embarked on is going about getting a cell phone. The beauty of cell phones is that Tim can get a hold of us or we can get a hold of him fairly easily, and we can get in touch with each other. I hadn’t bought mine yet, but I have one now. A lot of us got bus cards, and I just purchased a cell phone (Friday).

Not knowing Chinese can be a pretty large barrier. As soon as we step off campus, all we hear is Mandarin. So, until we manage to learn some more useful phrases and such, we’re pretty much limited to “duo shao qian” (how much does it cost), “qing gei wo nei ge” (Please give me that), and “xie xie” (thank you). For me and Daniel, the other Chinese American in the group, the most used phrase is “I don’t understand” or “I don’t speak Chinese.” The forms for internet and a phone are all in Chinese characters. Many of which Tim doesn’t even know. He has been able to give us the general gist of what the papers say though.

Another thing that has been a fairly big adjustment is crossing the street. You just cross. And make sure that you don’t get hit.

English Corner is in about an hour. The students get together to practice their English. We go, they get to practice on us and we get to make friends. I’m excited to go.