Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Social Butterfly

Well the past 48 hours have been full of adventures.

2 days ago I got to hang out w/ my 2 'sisters'.  They got to come see my apartment and we all ran in my room and just dove on my bed.  It was such a surreal feeling.  Something so simple but to incredible for me.  Later that evening I asked them if they ever thought we'd actually get the chance to go out shopping like we did and they both said no.  Being able to spend so much time w/ them apart from a camp schedule is a dream.  We walked around LC and went to dinner and did some shopping for my apartment and then headed back where we parted for the night.  I'm going to spend the night at Jenny's house tonight too!
This is the view from outside of my apartment.  My  building is the one on the left closest to the camera.  It's beautiful!
Yesterday... yesterday was the big day though.  I got invited to the birthday 'party' of a guy I met last summer at camp.  His dad is my supervisor.  So all I knew was to meet outside my apartment at 9:30 am and we'd go to B (a city by the L's).  I woke up to the loudest thunder I'd ever heard and lightning that lit up my whole apartment.  Secretly, I was hoping things might get cancelled.  I was worried that Neil would be the only english speaker and I'd have to eat some sketchy food that would make me sick.  I had no idea what to expect and I was kind of nervous.  I got all ready to go, rain jacket and all, and headed out.  He picked me up, we grabbed a few other girls and a whole extra car full of people and headed out. The whole drive was like going to the farm and for some reason it just seemed extra breath taking.  I get to spend a whole year here.  This place is proof that I have an incredible Father.  You can't look at something like this in a situation like I'm in and doubt.  I may want to at times, and every day has its ups and downs, but just looking around me I know that I am just a small worker with this incredible harvest all around me.  So.... we finally get to B (which I've been to before just not like this). We got to the lake and grabbed stuff from the cars and headed down.
We set up 2 little tents and took about an hour setting up this tarp.  I felt like I was on survivor.  The guys used a machete to chop down some bamboo and we tied the tarp to it and rolled over boulders until we got it all to stay.  It took forever and I got a super strange sunburn but once it was set up the party really began!
We picked up a cake on the way there.  If you remember my picture from Lonnie's b-day you know that cakes here are gorgeous.  And delicious!!! Fruit on top, whipped cream frosting, fruit filling, just good!  We had cake w/ the b-day boy and then started making lunch and playing games.  The girls taught me some poker game which doesn't make complete sense but I know it well enough to win at least! haha.  I taught them Egyptian War and we had a blast w/ that.  There was a lot of yelling going on and everyone seemed to love it!

Lunch was pork and this ham stuff which was pretty much spam (which I like).  We had some snacks too.  Dried cherry straws w/ sugar, chips, dried pork which tastes just like beef jerky.  It was all really good.  And we had some fruit juice, orange soda and pepsi so I survived...  but just barely ;)
Once we packed up and headed out we went to some restaurant halfway between B & LC.  I got to eat some sweet corn, drink some tea AND learn to play Mahjong.  I've had that as a mental goal and accomplished it in the first month of being here.  It's awesome!  We had a traditional feast basically and Thad gave me some really good mango juice to take back with me.  When I thought it was time to go home I was wrong.  Neil said they were going to head to a pub in town so I decided I would join.  Why not right?
We got a room upstairs and I think all I heard all night was an acoustic Justin Beiber album.  It was nice to hear english.  [Side note: all day I heard more Chinese than I've ever heard before.  They spoke really good english but the majority of the day was in Chinese which actually proved to be really helpful for me.  Immersion into living here, that's for sure.]  So we got some deep fried chickens feet (yes I ate some) and some lemon marinated potatoes (not a huge fan) and some fruit tea which was really good.  One of the girls started explaining some card game and I knew I recognized one of the words she kept saying but I couldn't remember what it was.  Jing Cha: police.  We played Mafia all night long! IN CHINESE!  I told them I wanted to learn so they spoke in Chinese for all of the details of the game.  It was awesome.

I ended up getting home at midnight.  14 hours of hanging out w/ 10 typical Chinese students.  It was such a good day.  Blue skies, learning language, eating new food, making new friends.  Loved it!  Sorry for how long this post is but I had to share as much as I could.  It was a day that I stressed over initially but, after much yarping, it turned out to be an unforgettable day out of many I plan on having this year!

Zai Jian

Sunday, July 29, 2012

It's Official

... I now live in LC.

It's been over 24 hours of life on my own on the other side of the world and life is pretty good.  In the past 24 hours I have...

1. Spent 7 hours with my hands in bleach making sure my apartment is pretty much 'spotless'.
2. Spent probably 2 solid hours doing every dish that was usable or that I bought and drying them and putting them where I want them.
3. Done laundry!
4. Taken a beautiful shower w/ hot water!
5. Gone to 2 different stores to get a tiny bit of shopping done.
6. Rearranged my whole apartment.
7. Swept and mopped all of my floors.
8. Ran into 3 girls from english camp on campus!

And thanks to the best boss/supervisor/whatever he is to me, I now have not only internet but wifi!  Last night I had nothing and I figured it would be that way til after Thailand but he is incredible and got things done faster than I thought possible.

Ready for my attempt at a picture tour of my humble abode?  These are all 'before' pictures.  It's different now.  But not ready for the public. Here we go starting from the front door:

Here's my 'family room'.
 Family room view from the edge of the couch.
 My kitchen.  It was a nasty mess!  It may not look so bad here but my bucket of bleach water was black within minutes.
 Family room from inside the kitchen.
 Family room going into my music/dining/office/laundry/guest room aka 'the slash room'.
 The 'Slash Room:
 Slash Room from the balcony
 Yes, that is a broom above my washer.  And yes, that is also a mop.  :)
 When you turn left from my front door you go straight to the bathroom.
 This little red box = hot water for Hailey!
 If you turn right at the bathroom you go into my bedroom which has my lovely, comfy, SUPER long, king-size bed!

 I found a mirror in my closet! WOO!  I had to be cheesy and take a picture of myself before my first outing.  Notice the pants... JEANS! First time I've worn a pair of those since July 1st I think.  Maybe earlier.
 Laundry day!

There are all of my 'before' shots.  I'll get things semi decorated which means pictures to come in the next day or 2 I'm hoping!  More shopping for me tomorrow and possibly seeing my 'sister'.

Peace out from LC!

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Closing ceremony. Camp #2. Coming back.
Get ready for a big jumble of the past 2 weeks.

Here's a look at my technology at the moment.  US: iphone.  ASIA: 10 yr old Nokia.

I think I mentioned the fireworks we had at the end of camp #1.  Well here's a little look at it.  It was incredible!

Closing ceremonies.  We had a few speeches and a BBQ and then pictures.  Under this one are the 2 little girls I wrote about a while ago.

Here is camp #2.  A little look inside the classrooms we were in all week.

The street lights all looked like this.  Coolest street lamps I've ever seen.

There were about 4 others of these on this round-about.  The other ones in the city had drums, flutes and that's all I can remember.

Massages during camp! Awesome.  But they are very thorough here and they massage you from head to toe... butt included as you can see here!

4 hour bus ride to camp #2.  It was beautiful the whole way!

Encouragram wall. We wrote notes to people all week and it was so great!

The high school.
Our dorm room for the week.

Shower room/laundry room.

So here's just a big fat mess of what happened last week.  I should be going to my apartment tonight!!!  I can't wait to get moved in and clean and figure out how to eat so I don't starve!

Apartment pictures coming tomorrow... as long as I have internet! Fingers crossed.  King-sized bed, here I come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Camp #2

Well.... We're not in LC anymore!

Where I'm at now is home to the mango festival.  They have firetrucks that shoot out mango juice, people in mango costumes, mango this, mango that, Sara Hall would HATE it!!!! haha (shout out to one of the besties)! But that's over now and we get the tail end of the market which I've heard it awesome.  I'm gonna go tomorrow hopefully.

The internet connection here is awful, but it's internet and I'm blogging unexpectedly.   Hang w/ me.

We have a group of 32 from all over the nation: Huntington Beach, Bay Area, Texas, North Carolina, Indiana, Florida, and I think that's it...? Yeah.  We have about 50 students at the moment but more could come because it's East Asia.  So we are running 3 camps at once basically.  It's going pretty well though.  I'm 'supervising' all of the camp activities and it's not what I thought I'd be doing but I actually love it. I'm rooming with all of the female leaders.  Two are from NC, one from Huntington and one from Texas.  I still get time w/ the kids at meals and in classes so it's good.  I have one girl I talk to at almost every meal.  She loves Adele, the Twilight series, old music and her english is fantastic.

I'll show pics of our living area later.  Squatty potty is our only option here and they aren't the fancy porcelain ones like I've used in other cities.  It's tiled stalls with no doors and a canal that runs from the first stall to the last.  Water trickles through but never cleans it out.  Bailey comes through once a day and pressure washes it.  Our showers are just a room w/ 4 or 5 shower heads.  The showers are solar heated but we have only seen sun for about an hour in the last 3 days.  I've become talented at leaning my head in to wash my hair and washing as much of me as possible but it's so cold I don't want to just jump in.  And those of you thinking 'pansy, just suck it up,' I say no!  It's a lot to handle all at once.  Our beds are wooden bunks.  They gave us some bedding but it really isn't much.  It's better than nothing of course.  I was out cold last night so it's all good! OH! Cockroaches like to crawl through the rooms and we were told mice might come in if we have food.  Yeah. Mice.  If you don't know me extremely well, here's a little fact: I despise, loathe, detest, hate, cringe at the thought of, want to cry when I see mice/rats.  I saw one at the farm, out in the field, and had a minor panic attack for a minute.

Tomorrow marks 3 weeks for me here in East Asia.  4 more days of camp here til I head back to LC.  I'm doing very well right now.  I'm realizing how well I have it in LC and I can't wait to figure out life there!

Good night from rainy East Asia!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Farewells of All Sorts

Get ready for a quick post that probably won't make much sense grammatically and transitionally.

It's been a LONG day.  I've only been here for about 2 1/2 weeks, which isn't much, but the transition into my new life is starting and I haven't been handling it as well as I'd like to.

I think I spent most of today crying.  COULD NOT CONTROL IT.  I looked at someone, and cried.  I ate Chinese food, and cried.  I thought of home, and cried.  It was bad.  And that's not how I usually am so I hated it.

Today was our farewell day w/ the kids and this year has been a different one for me.  Leading the camp makes everything different than teaching the camp.  You aren't as connected w/ the kids and the relationships that are going on.  You can be, it's just much harder and you have to be extremely intentional about it... which I have not been.  When I'm struggling w/ something I kind of go into my own little world.  I back away from everything because that's my way of holding it in.  If I get too attached it adds more emotions and I can't handle that right now.  So I spent a lot of the day w/ the L's having talks w/ J and my family about the logistics of the next few weeks, booking flights (I'll explain later), and figuring out new ways of communicating once my parents and sister get back to the states.  I tried to avoid the chaos of camp as much as possible.  I don't like being a bossy leader for 10 days especially when I knew today would be the day that I'd just snap.  Nobody needed that to happen, especially not me!

Closing ceremonies went great. The BBQ was delicious! The kids all left pretty much on time.  Cleaning happened fast.  Evening meeting took forever but it was fantastic to just relax w/ everyone.  And now I'm all showered and writing this since there will not be another post for the next 10 days I'm guessing.

I'll post pictures later of the past 2 days.  We had a fireworks show put on by the American boys that was pretty legit.  And closing ceremonies and the pictures we take w/ the kids are always fun to show off.  Those will come.  Just not tonight.  Tonight is my blunt post about the reality of me living in East Asia.

I'm scared.  My mom keeps asking if I want to just go home w/ them and of course part of me knows how much easier that would be, BUT I know I'm supposed to be here.  Sleep deprivation, stress, chaos of leading camp, missing home, all of that factors in to me losing focus sometimes and when I do it's so easy to question why I'm here.  But I know why I'm here and I have to just remind myself of that every day.  I'm not here for me.  I'm not here for anyone around me.  I'm here to answer a calling and through that it will all be ok.  I'll figure out life.  I'll create my space that feels like home.  I'll learn enough language to get around (and hopefully more than that).  And according to everyone here, I'll have more friends than I'll know what to do with.  I say bring it on!

Hopefully this holds everyone over for a bit.  After this next English camp we'll see how I adjust to life on my own in East Asia.  Those posts should be much more entertaining.  I'm sure I'll have some adventures to share.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

City Day

City day is always an incredible day at camp.  It's the day that the campers get to take us to their territory and show us how they live on their days off from their grueling school schedule.  They get to excited and they just love to spoil us (but we make sure to turn the tables and pay for everything for them).

They kids got in the mian bao ches (bread cars) and were off to the city around 10 that morning.  My family and the Deschaine girls stayed back for a while until S took us into town to show me around my area and take me to get a bit of shopping done before she dropped us off at my apartment.  She drew me up the best possible map and I was able to add a few other necessities to it.  I didn't realize how close everything was going to be to the college.  It's fantastic!!!  There's a grocery store about 100 feet outside of the college gates, an internet cafe, an American/Mexican/Italian restaurant 2 block away, and so much other stuff that's within super close walking distance.  It couldn't be better!  So I was able to get some shopping done also.  I got a rice cooker, some cleaning supplies, a shower curtain, hangers and a few other random items.  Since then I have come up with a massive list of things I'll need after I get back from my camp #2.  BUT, stores are close so I can take multiple trips without any problem!

Conversion of RMB to USD: 6.4 RMB = $1

Once we did all of that stuff we went to a jaozi (potstickers) place not too far from me and had the best baozi (steamed buns) and jaozi!  It was 5 RMB (less than $1) for a plate w/ about 8 pieces on it.  So we all - 6 of us - ate for 35 RMB or <$6! Then we met up w/ the girls and my parents went to get lost in the city while the girls went to get their nails done.  Almost all of us got manicures for 15 RMB and had  such a relaxing time w/ our girls while the boys went and got a 10 course meal for the 20 of them for about 800 RMB.  I think both groups loved their day.

Around 5 we met up at this new place called Salvadors.  It's the American/Mexican/Italian place I mentioned above.  It's delicious and the meat that they buy is from the farm so you know it's top quality stuff!  We ordered tons of pizzas and their upstairs area has a pool table and a foosball table so we all just chilled for a bit before heading out to the square for some Asian line dancing basically.  It started raining on us a few minutes after we got there but it didn't last long.  Once the rain cleared, Amanda and a few others started their own dances in the back.  They did all of the dances we did at our dance night and got a crown of at least 50 locals just watching and taking pictures of them.  It was hilarious.

After all of the fun we headed back to camp and everyone was so excited still that little sleep was had.  So yesterday we decided to forego rec time and have camp-wide nap time.  And for evening activity people were much more rested so we were able to to the nativity movie!  It all went so well and people are much more rested today.

Today is our final day of camp and things are still going great.  We're hanging in there and Amanda, Bailey and I are just hoping that we can get some much needed rest on Friday.  All of the students will be gone and hopefully we'll be all cleaned up and ready to welcome the other team back as well as the new North Carolina group coming in.  We'll have around 65 Americans staying the night here on Friday so we need to cram in some major rest time before they all get here and it's just loud and chaotic!

Another long post! Sorry! There's just so much to talk about every day.  Things will calm down pretty soon.  That's for sure.

Zai jian :)