Tuesday, September 27, 2011

行知基地! Camping in the countryside!

From Sept 23-25th the students of 中学高二 (Zhong Hua Zhong Xue, Grade 2) attended a 3 day and 2 night trip to the countryside of Nanjing. Since they said "countryside" I put my expectations really low to start with because I didn't want to be dissapointed when I arrived :P. We all came to school and I liked the atmosphere in the classroom when I came in, it felt less tense than on a usual school day (: At around 8:00 AM all of the classes headed downstairs and went on the bus. In our grade there are 12 classes and 50 people per class…which is around 600 people in one grade O:! So, one bus is one class...which is crazy compared to the classes in America! A couple weird things I was told when packing was: pack your own Tupperware and utensils AND pack your own bed sheets and blankets!

Day 1: 
- Pottery
- Dig! [Farmer]

When we arrived, I was glad I put my expectations really low because I was happy with what they gave us! We stayed in dormitories! 12 People per dorm! I was put in the same dormitory as my host sister! The first 30 minutes were spent setting up our beds. We all had to put our own bedsheets and blankets on the beds (they were bunk beds..three on the bottom and three on the top and there were bunks on the left and right sides of the room).  After we finished setting up our beds there was a meeting where everyone outside lined up, from height order and lines were separated by boys and girls. We had to bring down these little green stools downstairs from our rooms everytime we had a meeting. They were giving us instructions to what we were going to be doing today. In the morning, we went to make pottery. It was different than what I had expected but it was still interesting! After we finished making pottery, we headed back to the dorms and it was time for lunch! Lunch time was a different experience to me because we had to bring our own Tupperware and utensils to eat with but they provided us food. After every meal we would go out to the sinks (they had a long row of sinks, at least 25 for 25 people) where we went to wash our dishes and there were also two big rubbish bins to throw out the food we didn’t eat. After lunch, we walked around five minutes to an area where we were taught how to use farming tools. It was pretty hard to actually dig, they make is seem so easy on TV! After pottery and farming we headed back to our dorms and it was showering time and also time for the students to wash their own clothes. The showering system here works much differently. The girls have one showering area and the boys also have a showering area but they all shower together…luckily I brought my bikini (; This is where I thank Hawaii…haha. After showering it was dinner time but I missed dinner because I was showering…soo I bought instant noodles and went to eat it in the cafeteria while the other kids were outside watching a movie (they had set up a movie for all of the students)! While I was eating, I met some people who came into the cafeteria and I actually spent the two hours of the movie time talking to them! But it was really fun :)

Day 2:
-       Military Training
-       Life in the Countryside
-       Pick Tea Leaves
-       Campfire

On the second day we had to wake up at 6AM but everyone in the dorm got up at 5:45 So I ended up waking up around that time too. When I woke up my back was a little sore from the beds. The beds that most people sleep on in China are wooden boards with cloth over it. The reason why is because they say it helps straighten out the backbone :P. After getting up, I washed up, changed my clothes and everyone headed downstairs to have a meeting and some we had some “military training”. Military training was so hard. We had to practice our marching, our turning and how to hold a chair in the right way. The main reason why it was hard for me was because I didn’t understand the teacher’s instructions, so I had to watch all of the others and follow their lead. Since I was a little off at times, it was a little embarrassing but when it was over I thought to myself “wow, they are really serious about this” because If we did this at school in America, I think a lot of people would think it was a joke! On this camping trip I really noticed a lot of cultural differences!

After military training we ate breakfast and then headed out to the countryside. While being here I noticed wherever we went was going to be my foot. Even in America if it is 15 minutes away, there would always be a bus that would take us! But in China we had to walk everywhere, which also surprised me but then made me realize how lazy Americans can be! We walked around 30 minutes to the countryside and I saw a lot of interesting things while being there. The land was really empty and so were the streets. Its so rare to see an empty street in China! The houses were very simple, it seemed like they only had things that were necessary for living. Houses were really small and I saw a lot of animals: goats, dogs, cats, chickens…etc. We ate lunch at one of the houses in the countryside. The family that lived in the house were: three elderly, two parents and two children. The Grandpa and the Grandma of the family cooked us lunch! They made us so many dishes and it was so delicious! The way they cooked was different than what I have seen before, there was a pot that was implanted in the counter and a fireplace under the pot that heats up the food. So right next to the fire place, they had a stack of wood. They plant their own fruits and vegitables so they don't spend money on much food.

After eating lunch we walked back to the dormitories and rested a little bit, an hour later, we all walked over to pick tea leaves. Picking tea leaves was pretty fun for the first ten minutes then it got a little boring because it was the same continuous thing. The bushes were like a maze and we were split up into groups to pick our tea leaves. I went with my closer friend, Tiffany and four other classmates that are also very nice :D After everyone finished we got to see how the tea leaves were made into actual tea. I didn’t get to see the whole process because a lot of people were crowding around the lady but I saw the part where the lady used a round heated pan and  mixed the tea leaves inside…it smelt really good!

We then spent 40 minutes walking back to the dormitories and then it was dinner…then showering/washing clothes time! Today my teachers gave me a private shower in the teacher’s room! Which was a relief….! After all of this, I headed down to the campfire! My expecations to the campfire was different than I had imagined. When I got downstairs everyone was in a big half circle (separated by class) and since there are 12 classes, it was a really big circle! They then had this huge bowl with wood and oil that they lit on fire. The campfire was basically a gathering in which all the classes come up with something to do such as dancing, singing or acting. My class’s performance was three girls and one boy doing a dance to a Japanese song. A lot of the other class’s performances were singing and dancing and there were a couple acts. A lot of the singing seemed to be more karaoke style than professional sounding, which is different than America. After the campfire we all headed to bed around 10:30.

Day 3: The last day (half day)
-       Hike

The dormitories and beds!

Military Training!


Cooking in the countryside!

All the food they cooked for us!

Empty road in china, What?!

Picking tea leaves


ChenWei and I 
The last day we all woke up at 6AM and right when I got up I changed, washed up and packed  my bags. Afterwards we had a morning meeting then ate breakfast, then headed upstairs to get my bag ready for the hike. I packed a bunch of snacks, two bottles of water and my camera. It took an hour to walk to the hiking area and once we got there most of us were so tired that not a lot of people hiked. I actually wanted to but none of my friends did so I didn’t go. We hung out there for a couple of hours, it was actually a little boring but around 11:30 we had “BBQ”. I expected meat on sticks and such but it was radish and meat soup that was heated in a big pot under a fire. Right after lunch there were a big line of busses there to drive us back to the dormitories. A lot of people fell asleep on the busride back and when we got back we went upstairs, grabbed our suitcases and we had one last closing meeting downstairs. Once that was over we all walked over to the buses and when we arrived at school we just took our luggage and found our families and headed home. When my host mom picked Violet and I up, I felt like I was at home already, it was a good feeling.

When I got home, the first thing I did was unpacked then showered! Overall, I felt like this trip was a good time to get to know a lot of my classmates better and I thought it was a great experience, from experiencing city life to country life! 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

craziest day so far!

Omg. Today was definitley crazy... it was unexpected and just full of adventure!

Hawk and I met up today at 1:30 by the front gate of our community, of course us being teenagers we decided to wing our plans.

"Soooo what should we do today?" -me
"Hmm....I don't know..."- Hawk
"Lets catch the 33!" -me

Thats how our whole day started. We just went ahead and planned to go to 1912. 1912 is a very famous road in Nanjing, better known for their nightlife but since its famous we decided to go there but we kind of got lost....really lost. So what happened was that we didn't get off the bus at the right stop so we kept going and every time we had an oppurtunity to get off we passed because it was kind of a strange area with not many people. Finally around 40 minutes of being on the bus we got to Hu Nan Lu (where I went on the third or fourth day of being in China). We walked down the road and got some food, Hawk got a sugar covered fruit (on a stick) and I got Tu Du (which means potato..which was also on a stick :P). Anyways after we got our food we headed over to a mall but I wasn't in much of a shopping mood. The funniest part of being at the mall was when I asked a security guy where the "apple store" was and he gave me directions to the supermarket...for apples....It was the funniest thing ever.

After the mall, we headed to the bus stop in a different direction and on the way there, of course a car almost hits us...(just kidding but it was really close to us) and Hawk and I totally freaked out, me backing out of the way and Hawk pulling my shirt to get to the other end...lol! While walking towards the bus stop we headed into a fish store, antique store and a music store, all for the heck of it since we were already so lost! It was good that we had each other though because it was very reassuring.

As soon as we found the bus and got on we didn't know where we were heading. We didn't know where 1912 was or where to get off to get there. So we were asking around and a lot of people on the bus were really helpful. We ended up getting off at Aqua City and taking a cab from Aqua City to 1912. Luckily the taxi driver knew where it was and we got there safely. Once we got to 1912 we headed to DQ for a blizzard! It was so good...! After that, we walked around 1912 but it was really empty and a little boring but apparently it gets really loud and crowded at night!

After looking around 1912 we decided to head home...getting home was probably the hardest part. First of all, we couldn't find any available taxis. Oh, and not to mention when we did they would all reject us. I have yet to figure out "why" they did or would do that. Thanks to the rejection, it took us an hour and fourty minutes to get a taxi and get home...such a long day!

Today was just so crazy, getting lost in the big city and not having a clue as to where we were. Luckily we got home safe and sound! :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Firstly I would like to say sorry for not updating my blog as often as I usually do! I have been busy with school and I actually don't have much time to spare during the week.

School was good! Last week was better than the first and I hope it continues to get better week by week. I have made good friends and everyone is all so nice! Though one thing I've noticed is that the boys here are a lot more shy than in the US! My teacher told me I should learn 20 characters per night...thats a lot of words but I think I have to because at the end of the year I have to take an HSK test! (Which is a placement test to see my level and understanding in Chinese).

So this weekend is a three-day weekend! Because on September 12th it is Mid-Autumn Festival (sometimes also called Mooncake festival or lantern festival). The Mid-Autumn festival has been a tradition for over 3,000 years. This is one of the most important events for Chinese people throughout the year. Its when families gather together and stay up late while eating mooncakes!

On Saturday Violet's cousin, Jane and I went shopping together. It was a very long and fun day! We actually went to a bunch of different places from 10:30 AM until 9:30 PM! At the end of the day my legs were so sore! In the morning we took a bus to a market called: Huan Buo Huan Bei. It was like any other market where each store is owned by someone and you can always bargain and negotiate a price. I didn't end up buying anything here but we sure spent a lot of time here! For lunch we had fish cakes (Tian Bu La!), I think thats a new favorite for me! At around 2:30 PM Jane and I took the bus over to Aqua City and shopped for a while! I bought a bunch of winter clothes at Uni-Clo. Living in Hawaii made me forget what winter is like and how cold its going to be! So I am trying to prepare as much as I can! After Aqua City we decided to go to Fu Zi Miao, also known as the Confusious Temple. On the way there I spotted a shoe store and I bought a pair of "TOMS", my converse are getting so worn out from walking around Nanjing so much! Fu Zi Miao  was really fun because there were a lot of people out and since it was dark out, the temple's and boats were lit up. Inside Fu Zi Miao there were a lot of shopping and food shops. I ended up buying some hair accessories! I also bought a chinese brush with my name and date engraved in it!

We ended up going home around 9:30 and I was so tired by the end of the day. We took the 33 to get home and right when we got on the bus, Ruby (Hawk's host mother) spotted me and we started talking for a bit, then she mentioned Hawk was sitting in the back of the bus so I squeezed my way through all the people on the bus and went over to talk to him! It was funny how both of us were on the bus at the same time! Once we started talking the whole bus, literally was looking at us because we were talking english to each other! lol. Hawk and I decided to hangout on Sunday so I'll be seeing him later on :) I'll write about our day later!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

今天我们去葡萄园 !

One of the stations

Beautiful :)

Huge delicious grapes!!

The basket where we put all of the grapes in

Cutting the grape(:

My host family and I!!
Today we went to the "Pu Tao Yuan/葡萄园" Which is a grape garden where we could pick grapes! It was located in what was considered the country side of Nanjing. The country side was a lot different ot what I was used to. There were little houses, kind of like a village where people lived. 

Driving up the road was scary because the road was so narrow yet there were so many other cars and people. 

The way the grape picking worked was that there were many people who own a certain area of land where they sell their own grapes. They each have their own station where you can taste their grapes and if you like the taste then you can go pick out their grapes. For example, we were looking for sweet grapes so we found the station with the sweetest grapes. Once we found the station, a woman from the station took her bike and took us to the area where they were planting their grapes and helped us choose a bunch.

It was cool to see how the grapes were planted, there was a net around and above the plants so that birds and bugs would stay away. The grapes were packed away in little white bags and we were able to open the bags and try the grapes to see if they were the batch we wanted to get. We ended up buying a bunch of grapes! It was really fun because it was the whole family and I felt like it was bonding time aswell.

The grapes were delicious! A lot different than the grapes in America. The grapes here a huge! Sometimes they have seeds and sometimes they don't. Also we peel the outside of the grape off before we eat it. Its really good!

After picking our grapes we headed to eat lunch in the countryside...honestly I didn't eat so much because I didn't like the food :\ But i tried everything! 

When we finished lunch we left the country side and I went to run a couple errands with with host dad, Shushu (Uncle). I went to the stationary store and to walmart to buy some things that were necessary for school and everyday life! He wanted me to lead the way to each bus stop and location to see how much I know Nanjing :P I got lost a couple times but at least I could find all the bus stops! 

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Okay, I know this may sound silly but I feel so accomplished right now!

So last night, I took the public bus home alone at around 7:00 PM. Though it sounds early, it was really dark outside so it was a little bit scary but I was able to get home saftley! Crossing the streets are dangerous because seriously, driving here is absolutley crazy! If these drivers were in America right now, all of them would be in jail! Not even kidding!

Today I was able to meet up with Anna, my friend from Germany who is also part of AFS! I was so happy that I got to see her. It was nice to be able to meet someone who could relate to everything that I was going through. Anyways the MAIN reason as to why I feel so accomplished is because I took Chinese Public transportation alone today! To go there AND back!

I took the bus from my house to Xin Jie Kou, and I took Anna to Fashion lady "Lai Di". We decided to meet at Mcdonalds because it was easy to find for the both of us. Once I got off the bus, I walked about 10 minutes to Xin Jie Kou. We went shopping in Lai Di and then got lost several times in it! It was funny because we kept passing this one tacky shop so many times! Then we decided to go get lunch in the underground. Lai Di is an underground mall, so we went into the train station area and then walked around a while to find a foodcourt that I went to with Violet and her friends before. We finally gave up looking so I asked the lady where it was and turns out that we were right near it! For lunch we had korean food! We decided we wanted a change for once! It was good.

After lunch Anna and I decided that we were bored of Lai Di and we went to "Aqua City" where they have stores from everywhere like: H&M, ZARA, Uni Clo, Coldstone...etc. We were debating whether to take a taxi or a bus but I told her that if we take the bus I'm sure I know where to get off so we took the bus! Good thing it took us to where we wanted! When we got to Aqua City we went into a bunch of stores but I ended up buying something from H&M (Oh how I've missed you H&M!)

^ Translated: And then, we went to starbucks!
We decided to have a little snack: Cake and Perrier!
I had cheescake and she had chocolate cake! It was nice to just sit down and relax for a couple minutes!

After starbucks we decided to go home and so we said goodbye at Aqua City. She took a taxi home and I took the public bus. It was about a 10 minute walk to the station but I was glad that I made it there perfectley without getting lost!

Soo this is basically my day today! It was a great day! :)
Korean Lunch!

Anna and I (:

3 O'clock starbucks snack :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Second Day!

So today I was a little bit more familiar with the school so Violet and I walked into school together but parted our ways when we got to our classrooms because I'm in classroom 8 and she's in 1. The first half of the day was tough because it was all in chinese. I had classes such as Chinese (Aincient history), Math, Geography, and two English classes..which of course, were easy for me! All of the classes were kind of a blur because all of the students were contributing and they were speaking fast...well fast for me to interpret!
In between the second period all of the students went down to the field for some "morning exercises". Everyone stood outside and did this whole dance/exercise and i was in the front and i couldnt keep up...it was quite embarassingg and It was a little weird..or maybe "different" is a better word. At around the fourth period there was a break for all of us to have "eye exercsises" which was...."interesting"..lol!
At lunch time, I met up with Violet and her friend and we went to the cafetieria...it was very crowded! After lunch Violet dropped me off to my teacher/tutor for Chinese and we studied for maybe 30 minutes until he had to leave. Since I ended at around 3 I had two hours to spare because all of the Chinese students end class at  5:04. Which is so late compared to America! But apparently they used to end at 5:45! Man, I don't know how they can handle so much school and studying because even after school they have night classes untill 9:30! Non-stop I tell ya...The reason why i'm still stuck here is because the school that I attend is newly located and not that many buses come over here...so I have to wait for my host sister. I'm sure I'll find some things to do eventually as time goes on!