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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Week 9 & 10

Last week was a blast. My friends and I as well as the entire international department at our school, went to Xian.
Xian is a mid sized city west of Beijing. A train there was roughly 13 hours long. As soon as we arrived our class toured the wall that surrounds the city. Since the wall was very wide you could rent a bike and drive around. The wall itself wasn’t so interesting but riding a bike on a piece of Chinese architecture is awesome.

After that we went to see the terracotta warriors.

This was larger than I imagined, the whole place is composed of 3 different large pits filled with hand crafted terracotta soldiers from over 400 years ago.

My old Chinese teacher at Marvin ridge lives and teaches English in Xian so I couldn’t pass up a chance like this to see her. We finally met up near her school 回民建. Surprisingly enough I couldn’t recognize her when I first saw her and asked her if she knew Wang laoshi.

She brought her daughter along, cutest little thing.

The next morning she gave me a tour of the school and her student’s classrooms. They all were happy to greet me and practice their English.

Xian is a heavily Muslim populated city so the food and culture is much different from Beijing. The noodles were to say at least interesting to eat.

Week 8

I don’t have a lot to say about this week. This may be due to the fact that I am quarantined, yep that’s right. Woke up with a 101 fever and I got sent to the hospital. In America if you had a fever you’d probably stay away from school and take some Tylenol. But in China, everyone freaks out when the American kid’s head gets hot. Swine flu is still an issue over here and there taking as many precautions as possible, including keeping me in a separate dorm room without exit for the past 3 days. Sure I feel pretty sick but it’s not as big of a deal as they think. I don’t think I mentioned this before, but since I got here they constantly check the international department student’s temperatures. Every morning and every night we get our heads scanned by these temperature guns. Since I’ve been sick I don’t know how many times I’ve heard duo he shui (drink lots of water) and ni qu yiyuan! (go to hospital). My sickness is clearing up now but I think I’ll be confined for a little longer. I feel so weak, it’s going to be hard to get back on schedule with the gym, haha.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

week 7

It’s my seventh week here in Beijing and it’s never been as much fun as it is now. This place is feeling like home more and more each day. I feel as if I been here for a lot longer than I actually have. The language courses are getting better and my speaking ability is pretty good if I do say so myself.

The great wall was one of my class’s latest excursions.

We went to a part that I have never been to before, the wall was a little more touristy but some parts were untouched by preservation. It was neat to see the old broken sections of the wall, my friends and I had a good time climbing the sections that were not meant for the average tourist. Didn’t get a picture of it but I found a stray cat and carried it all the way up to the wall. Probably not one of my smartest ideas but I’m sure the cat enjoyed the ride.

My mother has a friend that works at a foster home in south Beijing. It’s about 2 hours from were I live but I’m trying to visit it every so often to volunteer.

The foster home doubles as a school for adult Chinese nationals that want to learn English.

The place is a haven for children with special needs and is currently in the Chinese foster system. I had a chance to spend the day with them.

The children all wanted to play with the Lao Wai (foreigner), and tug at his eyebrow piercing, haha.

Theses kids need as much interaction with men as possible so when it comes time when they are adopted or come face to face with a man they won’t be scared. This was the case with Mina, when we first adopted her she was very fearful of my father because she had no previous interaction with an American man before.

These are some of the sweetest kids and I cant wait to come back to see them again.

Week 6

Today, my friend and I went to a hot spring with my host family. My friend is another American foreign exchange student that studies in the same classes as I.

The hot springs where very relaxing, a turn from the everyday busy Beijing. The hot pool connected from n indoor house to outside. This was very random (When I woke up I was rushed out the door by my brother with no clue where I was going) yet appreciated visit.

I have found a good church in Beijing; it’s hard to come by. The church is called Next and is quite big for a Beijing nondenominational church. I never feel more a home than here. The people are so friendly it’s almost absurd. The government limits that only non-nationals may be apart of this church so the crowd is mostly American foreigners. You'll never see more Americans in such a concentrated space in the whole city. The thing with this is that you fee like you already know everyone or have seen them somewhere before, yet you ever seen them in your life. The church itself has a great band and service. Next week for Easter, I am bringing all my American friends to church.

This week I’m starting Chinese classes.

When I say Chinese classes I mean that I’ll be in a class with regular Chinese students and learn standard subjects such as chemistry, geography, and politics in Chinese. I’m in the same class as my host brother and luckily some of the other exchange students are with me as well. Jonas and Alicia’s host siblings are also in the class.

It’s fun, but havening my international friends in the same class as me is a blessing because I need someone that I can talk to with out a language barrier. The only class I can somewhat understand at this point is the English class. I feel so smart when all the Chinese kids run up to me and ask me to help them with there English homework.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

week 4

Since so much has gone by and I have no way of posting blogs frequently, this will be one of the most random blog posts yet. I normally like things to be formal and organized when I post information but I think it will be fun just to share chunk of my experience so far.

These are some of my dorm buddies. They are always fun to talk to and spend time with on the weekends. We are all like one big family that can hardly speak the same language. We mostly speak (or try to speak) Chinese and English to each other but we can understand each other most of the time.

Sharing hard drives, bread, peanut butter, nutella, movies, are just some of the benefits of our dysfunctional family.

We had a class trip to the Beijing culture museum; this place was a huge monument in itself. Some of the artifacts there were very interesting.

Others were kind of strange as it depicted the rise of the People’s Republic as a communist superpower. Videos of Chairman Mao, and tanks, soldiers, and missiles being displayed on Tiananmen Square were quite frightening to a westerner.

Last night I went to a karaoke place with a few of my classmates. We had a lot of fun and I found that I am a horrible singer. “Killing in the name of” by Rage Against the Machine, sung by Jonas and I.

See the Kazak kid with the busted eye.

He tried to show me some Kazak Greco-Roman wrestling and I reacted with American wrestling. Thus he was sent to the hospital overnight to receive six stitches in his eye. The worst part was that it was his birthday, be proud Chad and Nathan you created a monster.

Having so much fun over here. Hope everyone back home is doing well.

week 3

So I have met my host family. They are the sweetest people and I am the center of attention. I am lucky enough to have received a host family that owns and operates two traditional Chinese restaurants (food is a big aspect of my life). My host brother, Kun (pronounced Qwin) is very friendly but communicating with him is a challenge. He’s been studying English for roughly 12 years and still his English is somewhat broken. English is one of the hardest languages to learn and I respect that he has made it such a big part of his life to study it.

Here I am at a tea house that the family has a membership to.

I live in one of the two apartments my host family owns. Me, Kun, and his grandparents live in one and my host mother and father live in a separate apartment. Both are absolutely beautiful and I count my blessings that I have such a kind and loving family. As an added bonus the grandma cooks exceptionally well and I can never expect to ever go hungry in this household.

School life is becoming more and more normal every day. Time to time I still marvel at how beautiful my school is. Classes are getting more difficult but my language abilities are growing exponentially. I can see this as my vocabulary and understanding of the language becomes broader week by week. Traveling the city is a hurdle that I have yet to fully understand but for only being here for two weeks I'm proud to say that I've covered some serious ground as I have traveled to the center of Beijing myself. Blogposts are hard to put up as the government blocks the site I use to post these directly. I’m emailing the posts to my mom so she can do it from the U.S.. Please, bear with me as new blog posts can be expected every week or every other.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

More and more I am putting my discomfort aside and embracing the every day life of Beijing no. 80 high school. I’ve been grieving the past days, being away from what you have known your whole life is hard. Now I have made some new friends and that is the perfect remedy for the homesickness I’ve been having. I’ve been able to talk to my parents’ seldom on skype but as of now email is the main form of contact. So if you’re reading this take the time to shoot me an email (ilovelampley@gmail.com). The internet over here is completely on lockdown as the Chinese government monitors everything. Facebook, YouTube, even the blogging website that I need to post these blogs is blocked. Thus to keep this blog going I must email the post to my mother and she take forth the responsibilities of the blog.

Life in the dorms has kinda grown on me the past few days. First it was an old soviet prison, now it’s a way of life. With a little cleaning (a lot of bleach) and some TLC the dorm is mine and my roommate’s home. Dorm life is actually pretty cool. I’ve made friends with some of the international students. On our floor we have about 3 Germans, 4 Kazaks, some Koreans, 1 Japanese, 1 brazilin, 1 Taiwanese, 1 Mongolian, and us (3 Americans). The Germans are the best to relate with as they all know English pretty well. They have been at this school since August and know all the ins and outs of the teachers and the school in general. Their very techy as well so they have shown us some very cool stuff that China offers, free downloads of anything-games (full sized xbox games), music, movies, whatever!

Food is ok, the café we have at BJ 80 is not the best but I can be described as “different”, One of the Germans told me once we went to ladle some soup and he lifted a whole baby duck out of the soup, yuk! But aside from the café, food outside the walls of Beijing 80 is very diverse and outstanding. Sushi bars, hotpot bars, authentic Chinese food, McDonalds all are easy to access and cheap. But the only time we are aloud to exit BJ 80 is 4-7 o’clock, this is when school ends and we must be back in our dorms by 7 for mandatory study time. It really isn’t that bad.

First day of actual class starts today and I’m excited. My teachers name is li laoshi and seems to be one of the sweetest Chinese ladies I have ever met. I’m starting in a basic Chinese class and I am with a few of the Americans I came with and about 5 other Korean kids varying from age 13 to 18. We got our books and study materials yesterday and it seems like it going to be a good refresher to the Chinese language for the next several days. I do see it getting challenging it the future.

In short I’m having a blast here. The whole experience is wonderful. The residents of the international dorm are all working together to make this place more like home, new wifi router, cultural decorations, stocking the communal fridges with international foods. The school even has a huge gym on campus, yay!

First days

Well I’m finally here. Can’t tell you how many butterflies are in my stomach. When I made it to the airport I felt nothing but excitement.

After a short trip to the High school and the dorms where I will be staying I feel nothing but sick to my stomach.

The dorms are in very bad condition, I would rather stay in a dirty Howard Johnson in the middle of Newark, New Jersey. It may sound crazy but going to the supermarket and collecting cleaning supplies is at the very top if my list.

As my roommate said “all this room needs is a little TLC”.You can’t even begin to understand the spiral of emotions I have now. The excitement of making international friends and learning Chinese, and the regret for leaving your nest with the people that love you.

Internet connection is still in the works right now, I haven’t been able to call my parents yet but I can use email from a provided computer in the dorms commons area. Cant wait to give them a call and hear their voice.

Orientation for my school is today and I will get the basics. Once I get my money exchanged and my communications in tact, I bet I will feel a whole lot better.

This is probably going to be the hardest part, adjusting to Chinese time, culture, and being away from my family is painful. In light of this, my first week will be geared to make me comfortable. I will meet my host family this weekend for the first time, as well as get to know the head teachers of the school during orientation.

I’m thinking about everyone back home and please say a prayer for me to help me get through this slump. Zai jian.

Friday, February 19, 2010

D.C., probably one of the coolest places I've ever been to. My mom and I traveled around the national mall as soon as we checked into our hotel. As always she prepared for the worst and forcefully made my wear the renowned "bomber jacket". This jacket is as ugly as it is warm and could make a little guy like me a very unappealing person to sit by on a packed plane.

The national mall was amazing, all of the monuments I've only seen in movies ,were now standing in front of me. D.C. is very pretty while in winter, but i wouldn't mind if it was a few notches warmer.

This was also the last time I would spend time with my mom till I get back so nonetheless a bittersweet excursion. I will miss her and the rest of my family and friends very much. Surprisingly I haven't shed a tear through the whole experience yet I cant say the same for my mom. She assures me that she will try to stay as uplifted and optimistic as I am during this experience with the quote " Collin, don't worry about me. I'm a freaking pillar!"

Beautiful as it is, I am departing Saturday morning for what is sure to be an even more exciting experience.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

As the day draws near it is impossible to block out the reality of the situation. A bittersweet week, goodbye to friends, co-workers, and family. All the things that have once been taking for granted are now gut wrenching final requests. Something as simple as tacos from taco bell can bring tears to ones eyes, for you know its not on the other side.

Going to the movie theater with my mom was the first stop on this week of gorging on western society. We saw The Book of Eli, surprisingly a interesting plot and a strong moral theme of faith. Just what I need, faith, the next few weeks are going to turn out alright.

One of my best buddies had me come over after work to find many of my friends from school celebrating my departure. it was a fun night but nonetheless saddening to let go of so many people that have grown on me in my high school career. After church i spent my afternoon with some of my wrestling buddies at the gym. One of my best friends that I have known since I moved to NC stopped by my house to drop off a few gifts, numerous American candies and movies to keep me busy on the plane. She truly is one of the most thoughtful people for doing so, and I appreciate that my friends care about me so much.

My last day at work was excruciatingly painful. I have come to know the waitstaff as well as the managers well enough to miss them as much as my classmates. I want to thank them for the good times i had while working there, it was truly a fun experience.I hope to be lucky enough to get my position back once i return ( Amiee, don't give my job away to some high school drop out).

My bags are packed and ready to go, I'm leavin on a jet plane.

It feels like the last supper of a teenager that is in over his head for a experience that is way out of my league.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

So I guess my last two posts just kinda gave you a vague look into my life. Most "good" blogs probably give you some kind of background or overview of the writers life, family, personality, etc.. I'm gonna make up for that today for that reader that has no idea who I am.

I live with my mom and my dad. My dad is a very kind and loving guy. Probably one of the most determined people I know as he works all day and deals with the kids all night. Kinda like a Groundhogs day of responsibility, yet he find joy in what he does and it is keenly noticed by all of the household. He gets all of us organized and on the right path while still being kind to all of us kids. My mother is one of the most supportive and down to earth people. She'll tell you like it is. She can see all the problems about something and have all the solutions in her back pocket. While baby's cling to her morning to sunset and the big kids constantly making messes, she keeps her cool (most of the time). I value her opinion as she is very open minded yet steadfast on her values and goals. Its all or nothing for this woman. With a cast iron conscience and a all knowing perception its hard to hide any thing from her. To sum it up, she scares the crap out of me and the kids. But shes still the best mom in the whole world, yee-haa.

Now there are five kids in the family, me, kobi, jack, mina, and finn. I'm the eldest by a good ten years from the next runner up, which is Kobi. Kobi is seven and is the most passive aggressive thing on the face of the planet. She loves crafts and knick nacky things. She has such a kind and serving heart but doesnt like any type of confrontations. Sooo sweet from the minute you meet her, just don't wake her before 8 a.m.

This is Jack. Hes today's latest mystery. How could someone so clueless and numb to any instruction be the smartest kid in the household. This kid just picked up reading as a hobby at the age of 4, taught himself. Very self sufficient and more of a mannly man than I could ever be. Focused and determined, he loves sports of any kind and likes to play the Wiiiiii.

Mina and Finn were adopted from China. Mina is 3 and Finn is 2. Minas been home with us for about a 2 years and Finn about 8 months. If you asked for more contrasting personalities, you wouldn't find 'em. Mina, a thin, scrappy overflow of personality is a bit much for anybody to chew. I say she could win survivor, the t.v. reality show because of her ungodly ability to analyze and manipulate people at the age of 3. Cute as a button, I'm gonna have trouble been the older brother of this one.

Finn is just a little lump of joy. Very quite and is self sufficient. She is like my brother Jack in so many ways. Very cuddly and smart yet the laziest thing around. She'll sit and watch Mina and Kobi pick up her mess on occasion. Shes lazy to the point were if she doesn't feel like talking, she creates her own sign language. Just feed 7 times a day and shes the happiest thing around.

Then theres me. I'm always open to new things and love an adventure. I never try to settle for the norm, and be different in every way imagineable. Its 150% or nothing. That's the problem with me. You will never see my studying for more than ten minutes. Along with that, I consider myself very critical on certain subjects and will not be easily swayed. I try to appease everyone and make every thing work int he best interest for the people I care about.
I participate in my schools student council and wrestling team. I love them and have a strong commitment to both of them. I had to give them both up to accept this scholarship which is heart breaking for me. Yet, I know new doors will open and this experience will benifit me.

I ran a 5k today with my co-workers from this bistro and bar I work at. Realizing that this run would be one of the last times I would spend time with them till I get back from China, it was very sentimental. I've worked at Encore for about a year now and my co-workers, mostly composed of college students have grown on me. They are some of the best friends I've ever had and will miss them.

I also got a chance to see one of my favorite teachers. A health and fitness teacher, also my student council adviser and personal Dr.Phil. Running is one of the hobbies we share and I'm proud to say I beat her by a strong two minutes, haha.

9 days till I leave N.C. for D.C.. Its becoming so real as each day passes by.