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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!