Monday, November 22, 2010

You Know You're in Hot'n'Spicy When...

I’ve been here for over four months now, and I’m really growing pretty attached to my city. My city is uniquely known for its spicy food and hot weather, so sometimes I affectionately refer to it as Hot ‘n’ Spicy. Before this, I had never lived in a city, and combined with the fact that I’m in a third world country, it’s been very different! Let me tell you how…
You know you’re here in my shoes when:

• you walk to the supermarket at noon and develop a headache halfway there because of the thick fog of exhaust fumes
• you've learned to take the phrase "You're so white!" as a compliment
• you go for a walk and someone asks if they can take their picture with you because you’re a foreigner
• you often sniffle after eating because of the spiciness
• you can smell the public bathroom from a mile away, yet there’s not a single leaf on the pavement at 6 am

• you don’t want to teach your friends the English names of the foods they’re eating because you think it might scare off other foreigners (intestines, black fungus, etc.)
• your bathroom is flooded with water 24-7 because the showerhead is just stuck straight on the wall and the drain is actually positioned higher than the rest of the floor
• your friends are passionately convinced that drinking tea with milk in it is bad for your digestion, yet they have no qualms about eating msg in everything
• You’re sitting on a park bench at night. There’s a woman practicing taiqi exercises in front of you, a class lecture echoing through a nearby window, and a couple whispering on another bench; and you think, “This is a good, quiet place to be alone.”
• you receive a message on your phone that says, “You today to my mother to buy beef for you day after tomorrow,” and you realize that you have to say ok, even though you have no idea what you're agreeing to (not a fictional story)

Now, I'll post some long-awaited pics. The first one is from our visit to a beautiful mountain with a friend and her uncle's family in October. The next is with the same friend while her uncle is asking a local buddhist priest to tell his fortune. They did this by drawing a few sticks out of a container and looking up their meaning in a booklet. The last picture is the family's daughter, a real cutie.

Please lift us up, as well as our friends!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

long time no see...

So it’s been a while. We figured out that “Long time, no see” is probably a directly translated Chinglish phrase. Therefore, it follows that you probably speak Chinglish semi-fluently without even knowing it. What now, homies???
After taking language classes for a month, I’m beginning to formulate sentences and understand new vocabulary. On top of that, I can read and write a little. I had one of my more successful conversations yesterday. It went something like this.
Me: Where are you going to eat?
(Native) Friend: (mistakes for “where are you going”) We’re going to eat.
Friend: What did you do for the holiday?
Me: (After 30 seconds of thinking)… I went to the ____ mountain.
Later -
Friend: What are you going to eat?
Me: I’m going to eat dumplings.
Friend: The weather is very good today.
Me: (pretending to understand) Thank you.
Me: (double checking) What did you say?
Friend: The wea-th-er is v-e-r-y g-o-o-d t-o-d-a-y.
Me: (the light dawns) Oh, yes. Very good.
Other friend to friend: She can speak the language?
Other friend to me: You Americans never eat together, right?
Me: (with confusion and spoken entirely in English) ummm, sometimes we eat together, but not always.
Other friend: (actually understands) oh.
Okay, I may have had more successful conversations than this before. But it’s a good example of my spoken language level. It’s hard, after all, but my friends put up with me, which is great.
We have been taking classes in the mornings and studying and hanging out with friends in the afternoons and evenings. I would love to write more details about the work here, but I can't do it in a blog. Please yarp for us and our friends. It will be hard to leave them in a couple months.
I hope to write more soon!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Parkinsons or La Jiao?

Today, I broke free and ate lunch outside by myself. I went straight to a small noodle vendor on the square and bought a bowl of spicy noodles for like 50 cents. She had to ask me twice if I wanted la jiao—spicy peppers—before she actually added it. I think they expect me to eat like a foreigner! Before long I was sitting down in the small courtyard and devouring them. I was thinking pleasant thoughts like, “Words can’t describe how much I love spicy noodles” and “this is probably some of the spiciest food I’ve ever eaten,” when suddenly I realized that my fingers were shaking. SHAKING! That’s when I had to lay down the chopsticks and take a small break for comfort of mind.
But I think it’s a good thing I like spice, even overlooking the fact that my city is known for some of the spiciest food in this country and I probably would starve here if I didn’t. Spice is good for you, I think. For example, the cold I’ve been carrying for like, over a week now is constantly routed by my use of la jiao and hot green tea. Or both in the same mug, which is my own invention of a heavy-duty cough expectorant.
Well, enough about food. We are probably moving into the dorm on Monday and probably starting classes a week from Monday. I say probably because you never know here. They might tell us a week from tomorrow that classes don’t start till Wednesday or later. Even teachers don’t know when they start yet. We would much appreciate your yarping for us as we begin to start this busy time of life. It might be really stressful for me.
Yarp for my cold to leave. Yarp for our friendships. Yarp for openness. Yarp Yarp Yarp! OK, that sounds kind of funny, but you just have to translate it and take it seriously. I love all of you. Thanks for everything!!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Well, you learn something new every day – 50 new things if you’re in a foreign country. Like the amount of time I spend cleaning the kitchen is inversely proportional to the amount of cockroaches I find there the next day. And it takes a lot of time to wring out clothes when your washer doesn’t spin properly. And you can’t expect to be an expert at a tonal language in two months. Two months next week, that is.
Another thing I’ve been learning is the value of friendship with local people. For one thing, they are absolutely necessary when I have to order clothes off of taobao, the East Asian ebay, or when I need to ask about language or culture. But more than that, they are just awesome. Some friends took us out to the river the other day (picture above).
We ended up visiting a Buddhist temple, which was very interesting. Here I have some pictures.

Please lift up these students and many more that we will meet. We have been making lots of friends at different universities.We will soon be moving to the foreign dorm at the school. We start school in the second week of September, I believe. It will be quite busy from then on. We want to start some study groups, so please yarp for this opportunity.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Just Hand Over the Recipes Nice and Slow. There's a Good Chap.

Hey guys,

Our homestay is all that we could have expected and more! I'm learning a lot about the culture and language. Although, due to an unnamed hyper three-year-old girl, I'll probably be able to successfully name the characters of Winnie the Pooh before I can understand vocabulary about the weather and time. It's great fun, though.

I look forward to every meal, and I've even learned how to cook some things. Of course, I'll have to hear it many more times to remember. But that's the fun. We made dumplings last week, which took ages, but it was awesome.

The pictures you see on this page are as follows: tofu and mushroom dish, me stuffing a dumpling, a row of dumplings created by ourselves, a unique anonymous fruit that was quite yummy, a half-eaten chicken foot, and some vegetable soup.

It’s kind of hard to eat chicken foot because there’s really no meat! I guess you just have to chew the skin off. It doesn’t taste bad, though. Really. You should try it.

If you want a simple recipe for soup, try this. Boil some spinach or another vegetable in water until it’s soft, add salt, ginger, spring onions, and chicken bouillon. It’s really quite simple. You could also add garlic.

Well, that's a little bit about the food here! Please continue to yarp for us as we adjust. We have started working on homework, but we have yet to meet and make relationships with college students, since there's still a month before school starts. We can't wait for the opportunity.

Thank you!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Home is where you hang your umbrella...

So, we've been in this country for exactly two weeks, and I've definitely broken some records. Like, I got to see one of the tallest buildings in the world, and apparently our city ranks as one of the largest in the world. Not to mention, I used my first real squatty-potty (that I can remember) and I even lost my first suitcase ever!!! Now that's what I call record-breaking fun.

Our luggage, having successfully abandoned us, left us in need of many important things like mint oreos and stuffed animals. So we've been out shopping to replace our stuff.

As we walk outside, we often see girls holding umbrellas, whether it is sunny or rainy. That's because having white skin is beautiful here (I ought to fit in just fine!). And no girl wants to get a tan from the sun when she can hold an umbrella and protect herself from it! Sounds pretty smart to me.

And shopping? Well, if you've ever seen one of those little farmhouses that is absolutely crammed with peeping yellow chicks so that they can hardly move around, you have an idea of what it's like. And I'm like a baby gosling trying to shove my way through.

The food is great, but there are many things I still have to get used to. Like how spicy it is. I thought I knew what spicy food was... And though our people do not often eat dog, they seem vehemently opposed to wasting any part of the cow's body! I just eat it and pretend that it's normal for me... it actually doesn't taste too bad.

Please lift us up these next few weeks, as we will be staying in a national home soon. I am so excited about it I can hardly contain it. "Yarp" that we will be always polite and courteous to them, and that we will make good relationships with students at the university over the next six months.

I wouldn't be here without you guys, so thanks for allowing Him to use you! I appreciate y'all so much!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My New Home

Hey guys,

Just a quick note to let you all know what's up. We've finally made it to our new home for the next six months, and it's definitely a city. Yes, it's a city for sure. There's so much smog around that I feel like I can hardly breathe sometimes. And the national bird of this country? Apparently the crane. :) There's definitely a lot of construction going on all the time, and often you can hear drilling.
Of course, we had a slight luggage mishap - what's a third world country without a luggage mishap? A taxi driver happened to drive off with two of our suitcases, probably unintentionally. And yet we still haven't haven't recovered them... Please lift up this situation to the Father.
So, I'll be posting some pictures soon, but for now we're going to go shopping. For the record, I think this is a wonderful experience; I wouldn't trade it for anything, despite the problems.
Thanks for the support!!!