I'm writing this while laying in my bed late Friday night. Or is it considered early? Ok it's like 10:30, but I'm exhausted like usual and don't have money or energy to go out to the bars. Which results in my current location. As the weather warms up I become more and more thankful for this drafty house, especially today as it was mid 80's and I was unprepared with a hoody and long jeans. My window is wide open and the sounds from the street now sound familiar. The constant honking isn't obvious and the yelling seems to be non existent. To be honest the only sound that irritates the hell out of me is my neighbors chickens, or maybe it's the pigeons outside my window in the morning. But they coo and cluck like there's no tommorrow and it drives me insane. But thankfully it's night now and they are sleeping, however my upstairs neighbor is not. Which brings me to the strang title of today's blog. I live below Mozart. No lie. Whoever lives above me is some sort of famous pianist because it is the most beautiful well played music that I have heard through an apartment wall yet. I have heard it occasionally in the hallway but right now with the warm weather and the breeze from outside and the kids I hear playing in the street, its makes you feel...cultured? I can't really explain it other then an "I'm living in China moment." I have had more this week then I've had all together. I think it is a mixture of finally being settled into my home. I will now go through these epiphany moments that I have had throughout the week.
Last weekend I got to meet my little sisters cousin, and the first thing she said to me was " do you like Justin Bieber?? I think he's so handsome" eew barf. That's ok they are 13, and then I realized...Beliebers have no international boundaries. We continued to talk about t swift, and Selena Gomez. The look of confusion when I mentioned nysync and new kids on the block made these conversations all worth it.
This week itself was busy, very very busy. Lucky for me I felt inspired enough to do all my class readings for the week on Sunday so my life was a little easier but it doesn't change the fact I had two presentations and two tests to take. All on the same day....? Oh and a paper due. Poop. Oh Waiiiit. I signed up for an intensive language program, so no complaints are coming from me, it's called intensive for a reason.
On Sunday my family took me out for "American food" aka we went to Pizza Hut. Wow. I have only been in one Pizza Hut in the states a long time ago but I don't think it was anything quite like this. There was a doorman, and a hostess, and a 20min wait for a table. This place was straight up Olive Garden status. But oh goodness was it good to eat pizza, although my gluten allergy was not to happy with me later, sometimes you just have to have some pizza.
On Monday I got to go to my first painting class. I was very very excited and after an hour of the history of plum blossoms and a lesson on how the branches can't cross in certain ways and how yourflowers can only have so many petals... We got to paint! Oh boy it was fun! I'll show you my first painting so that by the end of this semester we can have a little comparison-off.
After our late seminar class on Monday we went out for pizza again. Now my gluten allergy is in full rage mode. Oops. No.more.pizza. It was really late by the time we were finished eating. My bus had stopped running and I had mentioned to a classmate that I was going to take a cab home in which he replied..."I'll just give you a ride home!" Huh? None of us have cars.... Then it dawned on me, he was talking about his bike. Well we tried and it more or less failed, but riding side saddle on the back of a rickety bike down a crowded cobblestone street in China, well not many can say they've done that, even if it only was for one block.
Tuesday: classes were the same and the most exciting thing that happened was I talked a bunch in my culture class because we were discussing very basic Chinese history, and well....that is sort of my area of expertise. I was thaat kid. Whatever at least I got participation points for the day, which make up about 20% of your grade. So far though I am not feeling this class. I don't know if it is because I have been spoiled at UW with very difficult and stimulating classes or what, but the assignments and class discussions are incredibly micromanaged and very easy.
Wednesday: we had a 听写 (ting xie) which directly means listen write. Aka a dictation quiz. I hadn't studied as well as I should've for it and went in not feeling that confident, but thankfully she picked the words I knew and I would be surprised if I didn't get a 100 on it. This was for our speaking class that we take. Our reading class is quite a bit more difficult. I don't know if it is because our teacher is younger and less experienced or if the book is a tad too hard, but all of us are struggling. I'm glad it's not just me....my teachers are all sweet though and you can tell are invested in teaching us. They hardly speak a word of English which brings me to my other epiphany moment. I am taking 20 hours of a class each week that is only taught in Chinese. Not only will that incredibly improve my speaking and listening capabilities but in general I am in awe of myself that I'm capable of learning in a class that is only taught in Chinese. Yes back at UW my professor mostly spoke just Chinese but if we didn't understand a concept she would take the time to explain it in English. But in China...that is not really a possibility. If no one understands we are screwed but for the most part at least one or two will get it and can explain it in English to the rest of us.
On Wednesday we also had our calligraphy class! Lets just say never will I look at a piece of calligraphy hanging on a wall and think "pfft that's easy" uh no. Actually it's not. Not only are there, like the painting class, a ridiculous amount of rules for calligraphy, you also have to sit a certain way, hold your brush a certain way and god forbid you are sitting on your left hand (which I was) because the teacher will make you a public example of what not to do. Although we were all given new calligraphy materials
I would however like to add that the calligraphy professor was so impressed with my ability to draw a line that I received a star on my paper. It's the small things in life.
Thursday was my favorite and least favorite day of the whole week. Not only did we have presentations but we also had a test (however this was pushed back to Monday because of the amount of time or presentations took up). One of my presentations was about rock climbing, the other was about my job at the tea house. The first one was the one I felt most prepared for but I will be honest, I totally bombed it. The second one went a lot better and I felt way more comfortable. Probably because I had already done one. Whatever one presentation won't fail me. I had a one and a half hour or so break for lunch before we had a other one of our wonderful culture classes. We had to discuss our ideas for our final presentations. Pretty much we are allowed to pick anything we choose about China and research it. Any sort of question that we want as long as it falls under our professors strict "guidelines and suggestions." I really really dislike this class. However I like my research topic and surprisingly so does my prof. I decided on researching disabilities in China as the word disabled can be directly translated to worthless person. Out of the two weeks I have been here I have only seen one person in a wheel chair. There are no wheelchair ramps, no way for disabled people to ride the bus, and most buildings don't have elevators. I wasn't sure how I was going to research this or where to start but after our class we had a presentation by an NGO based in Nanjing. And yes...non government organizations do exist in a communist country. You are probably just as shocked as I am. But in fact the government is starting to encourage NGOs to form as they take care of social issues that the government either doesn't have time or money for. They are more of an aid to the government then anything. The organization that spoke with us is Amity. They are a faith based organization that has started hundreds and hundreds or projects throughout china and is one of the oldest NGOs, and they want volunteers. Wow god does work in funny ways. I have always wanted to work for an NGO especially one in China and preferably a Christian one but I didn't think all of those things could be possible especially, like mentioned above, in a communist country. But here they were asking for volunteers and showing us examples of their projects. One project is called the home of hope. This is a house made specifically for children with polio in which they are given physical therapy and helped throughout their older teenage years and adult lives finding jobs and homes. And it is not far from Nanjing. Awesome
The second presenter was from Map magazine. It is the first bilingual magazine in Nanjing, and they are looking for part time (paid!!) editors, writers and translators, among other paid internships.I don't think my Chinese is good enough to be a translator, but I have been thinking more and more about how I wanted to be a journalist but it is a very dangerous job for an American citizen in China to be a journalist. However if it is for a small cultural magazine there should be no problem. They also mentioned that once you have a Bachelors degree you can return to become a full time editor. Hmmm...we will have to see.
After our presentations we all went out for wonton soup and then headed to karaoke with our chinese tutors and roommates. Of course we made the only Korean kid on the program sing Gangnam style. And yes it was awesome. This is us just waiting our turns to sing
Karaoke itself was ok, our program director was there so we couldn't get too rowdy and we were supposed to only sing Chinese songs, however the Americans kind of took over and we sang a bunch of American songs as well. I left early though and took a cab home, I was asleep before 10:30.
Our field trip today was to a migrant workers children's school.
Migrant workers school
And because it was march 8th (commonly referred to as women's day or mothers day) a lot of the students moms and grandmas were there for an assembly and were given lilies. a couple of us were lucky enough to receive a few as well.
The school we visited wasn't a very ordinary school. In china there is this thing called the Hukou or house registration system (now that I live in a house I have one as well). Your Hukou is your life. I would love to post this really good news article that was emailed to me that defines the education problems to T, but unfortunately I can't access it without a VPN, so in the meantime here is a Wikipedia article that helps explain the Hukou system. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hukou_system
If you have a rural Hukou rarely can you change it to an urban one, however there are many migrant workers from the countryside who find jobs in the cities. The problems are, they have a working permit which allows them to legally reside in the city along with their children. However, they still don't have an urban hukou and If your child doesn't have the correct Hukou then they can't attend certain public school with the citizens children. The school we visited was a mixture of citizen and migrant children but was focused on helping the migrant children become better educated as most of their parents aren't educated and aren't capable of helping them at home. This school is grades 1-6 and costs approximately 16,000 rmb to attend that is around $2200. Our jobs when we visited was to teach English. We taught 4th graders how to play Simon says with the hopes of teaching them body parts.
I'm not sure entirely how much they learned but all of us definitely had fun. There are 6 of us now that will return every Friday to teach our own hour class. And yes I will be one of the teachers
When we returned to school I had to complete this oh so difficult assignment for my cultural class of observing a public area for an hour and writing down every observation. *eye roll* I felt like this was a good excuse to visit a bakery that amity runs though so I was excited to go off on my own and wander through Nanjing. My program director wrote down the address on a small slip of paper, and I wandered off in the direction that I thought it was in. I asked numerous people and eventually I found my self outside a busy street. The shop keep I asked pointed me down an alley and so I gladly went. It was like a night and day difference. Small quaint walk ways with plants and tall corridor walls, there were a few stray dogs and older people play mahjong. There was also traditional Chinese music coming from over one of the walls. I had about 4 minutes of solitude before I came out on the other side of the block and found myself In pedestrian rush hour. Seriously. That is a thing in China, where there are so many people and so many scooters that you have to stand there for a good ten minutes before you can walk any where. Eventually I found the bakery and it was worth my 30 min escaped. This bakery is one of a kind. Everything baked is made by people who are mentally handicapped. The process from the bakery go to the bakers as well as the money from the huge donation box. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the enormous mural of Jesus blessing a basket of bread and fish that was being carried by a very obviously Asian person. The bread was awesome and the workers were as well. I left after my hour was up and made my way back to school. I was supposed to take a different bus home to get to my families other house, but a classmate had mentioned that it was more convenient to take a cab. No cabs would pick me up, and after 30 minutes I finally asked my host mom what to do. They said take bus 100, but I didn't know where the stop was. This had turned into an hour ordeal by this point and I was really frustrated. I sat on the corner fuming trying to figure out what to do when I used my oh so helpful observing skills that were taught to me in my culture class and saw the bus 100 drive by. So I chased it until I found its stop and of course it was going the wrong way. No problems, I crossed the street and squeezed my way onto the bus. Literally. People on the street had to help push us all in so the door could close. Yep I'm in China.
I eventually found the right stop and made it home almost 2 hours later.
Lastly I would like to just show you my room and my awesome view I have, no sarcasm intended, I really do like my view.