Tuesday, August 28, 2012

China Round 2 - August 2012

After graduating from the College of Charleston in May of 2012, I was accepted into the Confucius Institute Scholarship program, which allows me to study Chinese for a semester at a university in China. Today I'm leaving the US for Guiyang, China, where I will be enrolled at Guizhou University for almost 6 months! (http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/guiyang.htm)

I'm buzzing with excitement and nervous energy. Partially because I won't know anyone going into this program (but I'm sure I will meet a lot of new friends) and partially because I've never been away from friends and family for this long before. Even though the semester at Guizhou University ends in mid January, I'll be staying in China until the Chinese New Year. (What kind of person would I be if I stayed over there for that long and then missed that?!) I'm pumped to reach a higher level of Mandarin proficiency, and right now I'm kicking myself for not practicing more over the summer. I'll try to figure out how to update this blog weekly to give my friends and family a feel for what's going on with me in China this time around. (Oh, plus pictures!)
Packed and ready to go!

Teaching in China July 9 - August 9 (?)

Woah, I guess I slacked off at updating this. Teaching was an interesting experience with both ups and downs. I moved from Beijing to Yanqing County (an area about an hour or two north of Beijing). In Yanqing I stayed with a host family for a week, giving one-on-one English lessons to the son. Then I moved into an apartment with my teacher friends Lucila, Meredith, and Colin. Since this is a year late, I'll just post some highlights of that awesome month!

My host family was so pleasant! They took me to visit all of their friends and family and we had so many great meals. On the second day we all had a day off work so they took me and some family friends to this natural park and we climbed the side of a cliff with wild goats to get to a little stream where we picnicked.
The son didn't seem to want to learn English, but he loved computer games. I tried my best; by the end of the week he didn't use his phone to translate as much as at the beginning of the week. I did get to hang out with the family's close friends and teach their son, Daneng some English one day. We made pizza so I taught him cooking/food vocabulary. Both Daneng and his mom really wanted to learn English. His mom taught me some calligraphy.

I also had the wonderful opportunity to go to a Chinese wedding! It was hard to believe they had Kanye West, Taylor Swift and Pink playing during the wedding. Not what I expected at all! Once during the week I was playing basketball with my student and he accidentally headbutted me and broke my nose. A trip to a Chinese hospital was not what I had planned for the summer. It was actually a pretty terrifying experience, but in the end I managed with some help of my program director and a visit to Lucila at her home stay. One of the negative parts about the home stay was that the family was scared to let me out of the house on my own. They would walk me everywhere, even if it was just around the block. I guess I really came to appreciate the independence I had back in college.

After the week with my host family, I moved into an apartment with three other teachers. The school didn't have enough students for all of us right off the bat, so I was able to do some public relations/marketing work at the local supermarket, advertising our English Conversation program. Apparently having a white guy in the flesh makes it a much more prestigious program! The teachers and I had some cool adventures during our downtime. We went back to Beijing to explore the nightlife and shopping with some of the other teachers there. We also went up to Longqing Gorge, where we all went up the worlds tallest escalator, boated down the river with an Indonesian tour group, ziplined and bungee jumped!