A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: cuhloe

Zai Jian

It's time to go home.

sunny 36 °C

My last blog entry in Changzhou, China.

It's been an amazing 6 weeks. I never would've imagined the friends, the HEAT, the awkwardness, the laughter, the baos and the dumplings, the adventures.

I'm going to miss having the freedom and the independence that all of us have here, taking care of ourselves and making sure everything gets done - studying, washing clothes, showering, eating, everything. I'm going to miss walking down the street back home when the sun sets in the distance, past the yummy restaurants and the old people fanning themselves with the free fans that are passed out everywhere. I'm going to miss eating practically-free food and drinking extremely cheap boba drinks.

But.

I'm not going to miss sleeping on bamboo beds. I'm not going to miss this insane heat, and the stares that all of the non-Chinese people get, and the stares that I get for speaking "ying wen" with them. I'm not going to miss waking up at 6 am every day, nor am I going to miss the millions of mosquito bites I get everyday.

I officially ate my first meal at home last week. I had been eating dinner out at restaurants every night since the first day I got into Changzhou, maybe because my mom was lazy or maybe because she thought I enjoyed eating out. It's strange to eat at home after 4 weeks straight of eating at different restaurants. You don't know how tired I am of my favorite foods - shaolimbao (juicy pork dumplings), fermicelli (glass noodles), noodles in general.. (just kidding I could never be tired of those..) perhaps even boba drinks o.o

I'm excited to be going to college right when I fly back to America, so the independence, the lively nightscenes, and the friends will all be part of my life still even though the background and the setting has changed.

We took our Mandarin proficiency test today, and surprisingly we didn't do that bad on it. Although we haven't learned as much as we could've, we went from 0 to 50 in only (3.5 - jk.. rihanna reference anyone..) 6 weeks.
Tonight's our last night in Changzhou, and Miranda and I are hoping to get pedicures/manicures and go swimming :) We're taking a train out at 9:50 pm tomorrow night, and unfortunately we don't get beds. We do however get "soft seats".. haha.

Great quotes from the past few days:

My sister at dinner: "The guy volunteers think you're sexy. You know, Troy.. Kyle.. I don't know why though. I don't think..." (she trails off)
Me: "Aw thanks."
haha well thats my sister for ya. at least she speaks the truth! she did say she'll miss me when i leave though. even though she'll perhaps miss my sat/american college advice more than anything else.

ben: "sometimes you just have to be a bunny when you eat. it's way more fun"

To rachael/sarah: "well i guess we have no choice but to get run over by this bus coming very fast towards us."

Shoutouts: 包字三musketeers :) <333 love you two.
inhaler best friend i'll see you in NYC :D
fernando: you better visit when you come to nyc!

joseph's birthday is on aug 14 but we celebrated yesterday. he's going to have a 36 hour birthday because we're on the plane!

Well, everything's coming to an end. I don't know how else to summarize this trip except to say: "Oh my Lady Gaga." Pretty much sums up everything.

Small intro/chinese blurb. Here we go:
我叫chloe。 我是美国人克是中国人。我不会说普通话可是我会说英文。我爱常州。
yay! i wrote that without a translator! whoo hoo

Anyways.. we're flying to Beijing tomorrow for the end of stay orientation, then flying to Newark. See you back in America! zai jian one last time :)

Posted by cuhloe 22:02 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Shanghai World Expo

Travelling the world in 12 hours

sunny 35 °C

Ni hao!
Just got back from Shanghai, where we stayed from 10 am - 10 pm at the World Expo. According to our World Expo passports (and Julie Ann's facebook status), we visited 57 countries & pavilions in 12 hours. This being said, also take note that the temperature was a balmy (sarcasm intended) 100 degrees or so. We chose to spend more time viewing the smaller countries instead of waiting in 5 hour lines for the larger countries (ie: China, Japan, USA). My favorite pavilions had to be Indonesia (MUN!!), Nepal, the Islands, Tajikistan and the Czech Republic (with some great technology). It was definitely one of the best experiences on this trip so far and I was so glad to have the chance to be able to attend a World Fair, which I've heard much about but never really had the chance to ever attend. Truly a chance of a lifetime.

I put Tajikistan as my 3rd choice (after Korea and after China, my first choice) for this summer's NSLI-Y / AFS program. Going into the pavilion, I kept thinking to myself that this could've been what I'd be immersed in this summer instead of being here in China. It was fascinating and very elaborately detailed. I also wanted to visit the UAE (NYU Abu Dhabi!) and Mali (MUN!) but unfortunately we didn't get a chance to.

One of the best memories throughout the day was eating at a Mexican food restaurant in the Mexican pavilion. We all sat down for a rare Mexican meal, and tried speaking Spanish to the relatively Spanish-looking waiter. 4 out of 5 of us had taken Spanish, and we had been excitedly practicing it throughout the Latin American pavilions, like Cuba, Peru, etc. He stared at us and said "I'm not Mexican. I'm Filipino" hahaha that was great. Luke also ordered a burrito with practically everything removed and he said "That's not a burrito anymore". Sarcastic waiter. Anyways...

Had to chant "USA!" when we took a picture outside of the USA Pavilion. Rowdy Americans...

We went to the Australian pavilion through the back way and that was one of our best swag stop. Free visors with our koala-panda hugging shirt purchase and a picture with a stuffed wallaby? I don't even remember what animal that was.

It was an interesting, fun-filled, tiring day that had our feet crying tears of pain towards the end of the 12 hour journey. Random note: we had Burger King for lunch. Hooray!

We stayed at Wuxi and got to our hotel at about 12:30. The next day, we visited a giant Buddha and pretty much took a picture with his toe. Yep. We were supposed to meet back at the main square for the "birth of Buddha" but Rachael, Miranda, Mike (Joseph's bro), Paul's brother, Rachael's cousin and I pretty much got lost in the belly of the Buddha. WHAT? Well we were looking for the elevator to get to the toe of the Buddha but it was seriously hidden in a strange museum in a dark corridor. Very sketchy. Really fun sprint back to the square though in practically 5 minutes.. that took us like 30 minutes to come up. We kept looking at the flower hoping that the baby Buddha didn't pop out yet but when it finally started opening we had to yell "The baby's coming!" Yep.

Did I mention I fell down a flight of stairs? Not that bad but literally tripped and rolled. And Luke had to run away because he didn't want to laugh in front of me. Not fun. What is it with me and injuring myself this trip?

Today, I had a wonderful day of eating. Yes. Let's break it down:
Breakfast: shaolimbao juicy dumplings and some strange watery rice that is not the typical jook im used to.
Lunch: KOREAN BBQ! THAT'S RIGHT. My favorite food :) YAYAY! It was fun meeting up with the Xinyu's friends that I met the first week I was here in Changzhou. They're fun to talk to, and so young still!
Dinner: JAPANESE UDON! YAAAAAAAY pretty much favorite food for every meal. :)

Went shopping today with Xinyu, her two friends, Luke and his cousin. We went to LuChou and we bought a bunch of random trinkets and fun stuff! Tomorrow, we're going swimming below my apartment and we were supposed to be attending church to see what it's like but supposedly it's a 4 hour service in Chinese and no one knows when it begins. Yep. I don't think anyone wants to go anymore.

Alright, I'll post again later. 5 more days in Changzhou then back to Beijing for end of stay orientation (what?? that doesn't make sense) then flying back to Newark then to LA. Then 3 days later I'm back to NY. About a week left.. amazing how time flies. Zai jian!

Posted by cuhloe 05:50 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

I'm a Chinese person

Or am I...

overcast 35 °C

I sincerely apologize for the major lack in blog posts. I've been caught up with school and haven't had the opportunity to blog at all.

Last weekend, we went to Hangzhou as I mentioned earlier, and we literally had a blast. Everyone got the chance to put on bright orange life vests and jump on a bamboo raft to sail down beautiful rivers. But the scenery wasn't the only thing that made it absolutely amazing - everyone had water guns and intense water shooter thingys that were being sold outside and had SERIOUS water splashing fights all the way down. Rafts got close together which indicated that a water fight was about to ensue. Screaming was quite necessary for the war at hand. [Miranda: "AHHHHHHHHHHHH! DON'T SPLASH ME!!!! STOP IT!!"] It was definitely a blast. Pics to follow!

I've included some pictures that I recently uploaded onto my computer. Check them out!

This past Wednesday we went to Pizza Hut as a whole group and then KTV Karaoke-ing after. Pizza Hut is literally the fanciest restaurant ever with forks and knives and nice toilets (I like how we consider that a huge luxury now..) and expensive (but so yummy) pizza! Then we went to KTV and danced on tables in our private room while singing Lady Gaga! FUN :D

Everyday during sports time we usually have interesting excursions out and about the city of Changzhou. We usually encounter people that stare at us as a group because we are "different" and most of the Americans (most meaning everyone except Sarah and me) are Caucasian or not Asian. Sarah and I are stared at because we don't talk like them, and today on the bus two Chinese girls wondered (in Chinese) why those two Chinese girls speak such perfect English.

I've been following the Pimsleur Chinese lessons on mp3 from Uncle Jack, and they are actually pretty helpful! I've been practicing (and reviewing) how to say that I don't speak very [Mandarin] very well / I am an American / I am a Chinese person / I speak English. What's confusing is that I'm having an identity crisis kinda. Well, in one of my textbooks, it says "I am Chinese." and then below it, it says "I am American." So I had to think about it a little while and I was thinking "But what if I'm both..." then I decided to say that I was a Chinese person [literally, jong guo ren] that speaks English [hui shuo ying wen] but then I realized we were talking about nationaliy and I wouldn't be considered a Chinese person. When I tried this method out on a few people [while on excursion-ing around the city], they go on to say that I look like a Chinese person. So then I thought maybe I should say that I'm a Chinese person but an American person. What? No. Anyways, I just tell them I speak very little Mandarin [wo hui shuo yi dianr putonghwa/jongwen] and they literally laugh in my face. (just ask Paul/Luke: a woman laughed for like 20 minutes after Paul told them I don't speak Mandarin. thanks lady! way to make me feel great)
So yes that's my mini-identity crisis. Don't laugh, but the card we have to fill out while flying into China asked our nationality and I wrote Chinese. Not good.

I received a basket of flowers today with two teddy bears and a chocolate bar inside a beautiful basket. It was a present from Justin, about 6000 miles or so away from me, for our anniversary. Chu kinda spoiled it yesterday but it was still a huge huge surprise. I never would've thought that this could be possible, but it was the best surprise I could have ever imagined :D

I'm going to China Dinosaur Park tomorrow and then Yen Chun Sunday - two theme parks in two days! This should be fun :)

Fixed my phone problems today (finally) after having a mini "WE LOST CHLOE" party last night. Everyone thought I was missing for two hours because my sister called Miranda's sister saying I wasn't home yet even though she came home literally 5 minutes after I did. She also forgot to call her back saying that I was home so everyone was freaking out calling each other even though I was at home, safe and sound. Well I love you guys anyways, thanks for worrying about me :)

Oh! We made jiao zi the other day. And then Mikaela, Paul and I ate for like 5 billion hours and stuffed ourselves so much. :D Yumyum! I usually eat bao zi every morning so that's been great - loving the food.

Looking forward to Shanghai next weekend! Then we only have 5 more days of school after we get back from Shanghai o.o Today was our last Friday of school ever, and our last full week! Catch y'all later (just to spite the people who think Cali peeps can't say y'all. so there!)

Posted by cuhloe 04:42 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

Waka Waka and Oh my Lady Gaga

Mulan and Rush Hour too!

sunny 31 °C

We have hit the halfway point of our trip!
It's been three weeks since we first came to Changzhou, and we have three weeks left. Wow time flies.
Here's what's been going on since I last posted:

We began our Chinese music studies, where we basically listen to Beijing Opera and dance around and play MASH and sleep. Our lessons in Chinese language class have significantly improved, and today we had a mini quiz on 12 characters that are pretty basic and important to know.

Xinyu's started lessons that require her to go to school at 8:30 am and come home around 9:30 pm. Super long day and I don't get to see her ever. When she comes home I'm usually too tired to do anything and I fall asleep around then. So my host mom and I go out to dinner and eat in silence because she can't speak any English and I can't speak Chinese well. But we try to communicate!

The other night, she told me to walk home after dinner and do my laundry. So I shoved all my clothes into the washing machine because I had a pretty decent sized load of laundry from Baoding - usually, my host family chooses to wash almost everything by hand because my host mom doesn't think the washing machine washes tops and underwear well. I poured in the liquid and then turned it to what I thought was the correct setting for my clothes to be washed. And jumped in the shower.

When I got out, there were 3 min left on the machine and bubbles everywhere! On the ground mostly, but the whole machine was filled with bubbles. So then I tried to open the door and the handle wouldn't budge. Last time I asked my sister to open it, and she just pulled it open so I tried that and pretty much snapped the handle off. But don't worry it's okay - I didn't really break it... I don't think. I left it there and tried to research it on the Internet but then the Internet was broken and I might've broken that too. SO I didn't want to mess anything up so I sat in the living room and waited until they came home x_x

They told me that the repairman would come in a few days to fix the Internet and the washing machine. Two days later, my bundle of clothes is still sitting in the washing machine waiting to be taken out.. poor things. Well anyways, that was an adventurous night.

Some random facts:
The other day I ran into another glass door. Very embarrassing because it was the door to my own complex. I looked around though and fortunately no one was around so no worries! No one saw. :]

I've been walking to and from the bus stop everyday, and it's about a 10 minute walk - during this time, it's really relaxing to just think about everything and to really admire the life bustling around me. Yesterday, the sun was setting around this time (when I get back from school) and it was beautiful. I take the bus to and from school everday with Miranda and it's a 40 minute bus ride - the longest out of anyone around us. Everyone either walks or bikes to school, and it usually takes 20 min or so to do that. We're the farthest which isn't that fun but it's okay! Miranda and I both have studied Spanish and since we usually get funny looks for speaking English on the bus, we decided to try to speak in Spanish and really freak everyone out. We tried that but there weren't that many people on the bus yet, so I'll document it another time when we get better results :)

The other day, we had a long break where everyone just danced to Waka Waka (Shakira's world cup song). It's pretty much our theme song here in China which is funky because it's a song representing Africa, but it doesn't matter. We all learned the dance! During the second half of our Chinese language class, we sometimes watch movies as well. Yesterday we watched Mulan, and today we watched Rush Hour - America's view on Chinese culture. Interesting to watch this as Americans in China. Rush Hour, being filmed somewhat in LA and LA's Chinatown, made me miss the palm trees. :p

The teenagers here all say "Lady Gaga is sexy" and they comment on outrageous / out of the ordinary happenings by saying "Oh my Lady Gaga!" We all think that's hilarious and laugh whenever we hear it.

Going to Hangzhou this weekend, and supposedly going "white water rafting". We were all like "COOL!" but then our teacher said this was in a bamboo boat so we think the white water part is a tiny exaggeration. But we'll see! It sounds fun and there's life jackets included. Then Shanghai's coming up! YAY!

Oh yeah and I got a poisonous mosquito bite ): Swelled up my entire knee area and my skin like hardened. But no biggie, it didn't hurt much and the health clinic gave me a bottle of iodine to remove the poison.

The weather has been fluctuating between excruciatingly hot and hot with rainstorms. Update more later! Bye bye

Posted by cuhloe 21:29 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

If you hear your nose crack four times, it's not good.

Of course it would be me. [Baoding]

sunny 34 °C

Hello again!
Successfully said "Zhao shang hao" to someone today and got it back in return! What an accomplishment.
Anyways, let's recap from last Thursday, the day that we had a Chinese / American Cultural presentation at the Bank of China. [upstairs room with a disco ball - snazzy!]

During the presentation, a medium sized room was filled with host families and the Changzhou No. 1 Middle / High School band (who played very very well by the way) and the Korean students. All the American students performed the YMCA and the Cha Cha Slide for them and everyone obviously stared at us funny. Which isn't any different really than walking down any street in China as a large group of Americans [today a man leaned really close to Miranda and said "MEI GUO?!" and i said "dui!" so hooray for that!] but Sarah and I blend in which can be both a good thing and a bad thing, because we get less stares but we're assumed to speak fluent Chinese. Obviously, a Chinese can speak a dialect of Chinese. No.

Sorry, back to the presentation. A man talked to us in Chinese for like an hour and of course we didn't really pay attention because we couldn't understand. He did mention well-known American universities (i.e. Brown, Harvard, Yale) and showed us pictures of himself at the universities. Hahaha. So as we were exiting, there was a revolving door. Oh dear. I'm usually pretty good at revolving doors... I mean there's a certain rhythm/timing of it all and it's fun to step inside and keep up with the pace before getting knocked in the butt by the following door. (insert story about Superwoman Mom and almost-blind Granny + the revolving door in Italy here) Not this time. We were all entering the constantly-in-motion revolving doors (of death) and when it was my turn, I happened to see Luke still inside the bank and we quickly threw out our goodbyes - but then I remembered he usually takes the #33 bus home with Mikaela, Miranda and me. Somewhere along the lines I got distracted and walked straight into the side panel of the doors that do not revolve. Kind of hard to describe without my hands, but think of this: revolving door, two open curved door panels on each side of the revolving door. I walk into one of them head on - "NOSE on" - and hear my nose crack four times in four different places. Hmmm... not pleasant. Tears sprung to my eyes and I felt like a baby but everyone was laughing because who walks into a revolving door! So I was laughing and crying and people didn't know if it hurt or minor because that's just a confusing combination and poor Zhao Lao Shi is worried and offers to take me to the hospital nearby.

Anyways that was fun. 4 days later and it hurts like no other still. Can't even touch the thing. People don't believe the pain because there's nothing that shows that there's anything wrong and also because I "have such a small nose!" Oh well. We'll see where this goes. Hopefully it's not broken? Anyone with a previous broken nose let me know how it felt so I can compare and diagnose the pain. Thanks!

Later that night, it was just my host sister and I watched kdramas and eating cup noodles because my host parents went to Shanghai at 5 30 am that morning. It was just us for the night and they would come home tomorrow but by then I would be in Baoding!

Then came Friday: Got up at 5:30 am to hail a taxi to Changzhou High School of Jiangsu Province (best high school in Changzhou) - very difficult task. Xinyu is definitely not a morning person. She had to call the taxi service in the morning to meet me outside the building but she didn't get up! She walked around like a zombie with her eyes closed and was moaning like a zombie as well. I can understand why it's so hard to get me up in the morning now - sorry Mom. (no wait I'm not THAT bad! you should see xinyu..)
Finally, the bus ride. 14 hours long. 6:30 am - 8:30 pm to Baoding, a city about an hour away from Beijing. CRAZINESS! I have never been on a longer bus ride. We should've taken the sleeper train Thurs-Fri night but since the Shanghai World Expo's going on, that wasn't a possibility. So we took a coach with a cool card table in the back and no bathroom x_x
We played so so so many card games and ate so many different snacks - recap: 10 fingers, golfing, egyptian rat screw

Got to the conference around 9:30 pm after dinner when everyone else was there around 11 am. Crazy night sums it all up, really.

Throughout the conference (which was an AFS conference), we had a ceremony which we couldn't understand and a few activities, and then a Chinese lesson (in which I learned more than I have in the past two weeks). We also had a cultural festival and it was really fun salsa dancing on stage in front of everyone and seeing a great mixture of many different cultures in one room. Met the AFS CEO and he gave me a key chain from Thailand even though he's from Paraguay.

A few funny memories this weekend: KFC, RT Mart, "Spicy ladies" and the creeper guy who thought I couldn't speak English, "nice" bathrooms, terrible meals, the "city tour" that we thought we were going to die at (battlefield back in 1920s or so, Japanese invasion + underground tunnels), bus rides, don't stop believin, salsa dancing

Just came back from the 14 hour bus ride back home and everyone just slept the whole time. Lots of craziness going on around 3 am because they decided to have the bus become a Chinese dance party and it was fun! Then around 5 am they started blasting mission impossible music and we were very confused and everyone was cranky :p

Going out in 30 minutes or so to go shopping with the American AFSers and have lunch, then we're going to teach at the English camp at the middle school for an hour! That should be fun. Sounds like a cult someone said because they're chanting English mantras very loudly. There's about 200 students saying "I will learn English because it will help the world!" or something like that. Oh dear.

Sorry, long entry. More details later. BTW: We're the only city that gets to attend the World Expo! SO COOL. Only 14 Americans out of 49 total - Changzhou is awesome. I love our group :)
New teacher doesn't speak English very well at all / uses Google translator. He points to Chinese characters and tells us to READ but we've never seen them before so how can we read them? Hmm. We'll have to work on that. I heard we might be getting a new teacher later? Well, at least I'll come back with a little bit more than what I started with. But that's not saying much.

Changzhou = Casino royal moon supposedly according to Google translator. It's also a dream city of dreams! YAY!
Zai jian!

Posted by cuhloe 19:02 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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