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What do you need to know about free software? Please Wait. Submit Your Reply. Summary: Count: 0 of 1, characters Submit cancel The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Luckily, she was not judging me and we ate a wonderful meal. I had a creamy spinach and cheese stuffed ravioli with pine nuts. For our second course, she had pork that was cooked in a typical Italian fashion. I had a steak it was honestly one of the cheapest options. I cannot describe how magnificently beautiful their house was. There were flowers everywhere, and it was an Italian paradise.
Not to mention, eating in a setting like this only adds to the meal. I wish I could post pictures, but they would do no justice. However, I love attending worship services of all kinds. I figured that Italy was the perfect place to brush up on my Catholicism. I was correct. Despite that I could not understand, it was beautiful. I only had one problem: the hymnal. I know that my mom and dad might be the only ones who are equally as offended by this they are graphic designers, and I was raised with some unusual morals. Comic sans is only appropriate for Kindergarden flyers, and in my opinion, it made me question the church.
Besides that, the service was wonderful, but I might have to write to the Pope about this one. There is no denying it. I am at my breaking point. I am tired of mosquito nets with holes, toilets that are just a hole in the ground, cup showers you take outside, bugs, no T. I just looked outside the Safari van window to see the most beautiful sight I have ever seen - Mt.
If only I were a poet, I would have the words to describe this magnificent piece of land. Do you even call a the largest mountain in Kenya rising to 19, ft. Anyway, this majestic creation of God has my emotions stirring, in a good way. Like when you hear the National Anthem play, or when someone expresses their love for you, or when you find that perfect pair of shoes or when "The Bachelor" gets down on one knee to propose, even though you know it is a sham or best of all, when God shows Himself to you.
I find it quite interesting that just as I was complaining about the gift which I have been praying for for more than two years, a volunteer trip to Africa, God shows Himself to me. Man, is God cool! He knows how to put you in your place through beauty, not anger. I guess that is why we call him God. We weren't expecting to stay here. Another example of God putting me in my place. I am extremely excited and nervous at the same time. The 5 weeks since my last post has gone by so fast! Air travel has always made me nervous, which is crazy, but I'm still new to the whole traveling completely alone thing.
I have been brushing up on my spanish all week, although I hear that in Antigua a lot of people speak English. I have been keeping in touch with people from and living in Antigua right now and have arranged coffee dates with locals. I'm excited to see who is living in the volunteer housing when I'm there, I'm hoping at least a few people! This is going to be such an adventure, I don't think I've ever done something that is so independent! I am packing light, and layers because it's rainy season right now, and storms are expected all week Things have been going really smoothly with Cultural Embrace and the planning, I made a lot of specific requests and organizing things for certain times etc, and they made it all happen : call me high maintenance I guess haha The things I'm most looking forward to: 1.
Perfecting my Spanish 3. Volunteering 4. Adventures 5. Meeting new people 6. Returning with great memories and lots of pictures : So definitely stay posted! I'm sure I'll have some great stories! Hasta Luego, Haley. Yep, okay, fell way behind again. Anyways I'll dive right into it. I took the requisite picture at the spot so I will post that soon once I figure out what to do with my photos my HD is nearly full. But before we got to Xing Ping we stopped at a very small village where many of the traditional Chinese scroll paintings and fans that you see at the shops in Yangshuo are made.
So we strolled through there for a bit, looking at various artists work. So, from there we continue on to Xing Ping and board one of the river rafts. Now, they advertise that the rafts are "bamboo rafts" but the bamboo they use is an odd white color that is really slippery when wet. I've never seen it in nature. So we embark on our tour and its a pretty chilly day and we're riding up stream on a boat thats powered by a motor cycle engine with an extended sort of driveshaft with a propeller on the end.
It was a pretty fun ride, and cool to see the karst formations rise straight out of the water. I took quite a few pictures from here. It was funny for us because like usual we were as much of an attraction to the chinese tourists as the scenery. At the turn around point there was a formation where supposedly there are 9 horses hidden in the rocks.
I think I found three or four. More of a mind game than anything. After the boat cruise we drove back to Yangshuo and that was pretty much the day. The next day was a pretty low key day. The group just hung out at the school until about 1 or so when I decided to go running. The others were going to go to mimosas to use the internet because it was down at the school as usual.
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So I went for my longest run so far in China 70 minutes. When I returned nobody had left for mimosas because apparently tom broke the washing machine drain while it was draining and flooded his bathroom. After that we went to mimosas and took it easy. At brunch Isabella asked if we would like to go on a bike ride to Moon Hill. Moon Hill, being one of the biggest attractions in Yangshou couldn't be one to miss out on.
So Isabella pulls out several bikes that the school owns. The bikes were no race bikes by any means but it got the job done. I think I made Amelia have a heart attack by the amount of time I would ride no-handed about 75 percent of the ride. Anyways on the ride Tom was being his usual self saying "Ni Hao" to every chinese person he saw and saying "Dui" to everything said to him. Then somebody made the grave mistake of telling him how to say "I love you" which he then proceeded to start saying to every girl he saw.
Other than Tom making a bunch of friends the bike ride was nice. It was a really nice sunny day which seemed to happen every weekend in Yangshuo, good timing weather. So on our ride we made our first stop at "The Big Banyan Tree". The tree is exactly what it says. A year old Banyan tree.
It was cool to see that parts of the branches had reached the ground and made new roots so it looked like a tree with multiple trunks. So we did the usual thing, walked around it three times for good luck. After looking at the tree we went over to the little market. There was a guy with three monkeys tethered to a little stand that you could pay to get your picture taken with. I didn't get my picture taken because I felt it was a cruel situation for the monkeys.
So I just took a picture of them. After Banyan tree we continued on to Moon Hill. Once charged and ready to go we made our voyage up the some steps to Moon Hill. The climb isnt all that scenic because you're hiking up through a forest but once you get to the top there is a pretty impressive view. On this day we ran into a group of climbers that we had seen around town, climbing up the under side of the formation.
Then we saw this guy pulling himself up the middle of the arch by his ropes. They were trying to get as high as they can so they could backflips off of the hill. It was pretty impressive to see. Search for them online, I think they said they would post the backflip videos on their website. So after spending about an hour at the top we make our way down and head home. Pretty exhausting day. The next couple of days were spent doing the regular training routine but we got more into actual teaching practices, then doing a demo teaching lesson amongst ourselves. We gave each other a pretty hard time so that was pretty funny.
On thursday and friday we had to do a practice class with real live students, which increased the pressure. For those classes we had a partner and we split time talking about our home countries. So hopefully I filled their brains with a little more knowledge. Another significant even that happened on thursday is fellow Centurians, Justin Bussies and Kei Mamiya came to visit!!
This was really fun to see some good friends from college on the other side of the world Kei is Japanese and Justin is teaching english in Japan. Anyways, with my days occupied with teaching, Kei and Justin went around doing the tourist things, meeting up in the evenings. So for their first night we decided to go out for a nice Chinese dinner. We went to the same place Isabella always takes us so she called ahead for us to tell them we were coming and to give us a discount which they actually gave to us, AWESOME!
So after dinner, I showed them around town and went to Caviler Bar to teach them the dice game our usual spot The Stone Rose closed to remodel The next day friday was the same routine. This time we met at the much cheaper Wontons restaurant but still had a great dinner. On saturday Isabella informed me that a teacher at the school wanted to take the group on a bike ride on some new road.
Everyone again decided to join. We started going out the direction non of us have ever been down which eventually lead to a very hilly road. The biggest hill was over half a mile long. So at the top of the hill everyone thought this route was too tough. I was slightly disappointed because I always like these types of challenges. So we all turned around and everyone but Justin, Kei, The teacher and Me went back to school.
We then decided to go to Moon hill. The teacher said he could show us a different more scenic route.
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That sounded good so we went that way. On the way we stopped at an aquaduct along the river. Pretty cool spot. We continued to moon hill and got a much better view as we approached compared to the typical route. This route also had a lot fewer cars and busses so that was nice as well.
We then hiked to the top, hung out for a bit, and them made our way down and back the same route. I then saw Justin and Kei off at the long range bus station on the outside of town. I then went back to Mimosas and found the crew there with Jarone and Weiss! They were back for a few days from the orphanage before they took off to the Netherlands. We then went out to tin tin bar and cavilers, it was a good time. Okay I'll keep catching up. Week behind still but I'll get it! Its now and I have class at I need to got to sleep! I know it has been a long time since I posted a blog and sadly, this will not fulfill your desires much!
I have so much to blog about. This is what happens when you live with a bunch of Europeans haha! Any who, tomorrow I leave for Mumbai and then head down to Kerela for a nice beach Vacation. I then pop into Delhi once more to visit with a friend and head out to Varanasi, which is where the mighty Ganges lay. Finally, at the end of the month, I will travel to Nepal to experience the culture of the mighty Himalayas. I looked at her like she was crazy haha! She said it is not that bad: only a 2 week trek that anyone can do. I thought in my head, yea right.
Any way, I will spend this time reflecting on my travels and relaxing. I will also hopefully be able put some pictures up and post, while laying on the beach sipping a Pina Colada of course lol! Yes, that's right, I am once again housing Stanley for my sister and my nieces and am hoping to give him a good trip around India. Accha Ji Good Bye. So here goes To be completely honest, even though I am just as excited as a little kid at Christmas to teach in China, I am also very nervous. I think working with the kids in China and teaching them English isn't going to be the hard part, its going to be the culture shock and totally new life style that I will have to be around for six weeks.
Yes I am nervous but that is what makes it so exciting and exhilarating to me. I am someone who could be thrown in a jungle with very little supplies and still be thrilled with all the new and exciting things around me, and not be worried about the negatives. I chose to go abroad in China because I love traveling and teaching kid sounds very fun.
Cultural Embrace has been very kind to me and very helpful. This program they offered was very easy to understand and had a lot to offer, being a traveler. Well, if you don't know my name is Chris Jones, and I am a very interesting guy!! I am someone who can not sit still for more than two seconds, if I'm not doing something fun or productive than I'm usually not happy.
Right now I am currently 20 and I have been to just about every state in the west half of the united states. Last summer I also traveled to Cancun Mexico for two weeks with my sister for vacation which was a great experience. And I have also to traveled to many varies cities in Canada, due to being from Montana which is just south of Canada. I grew up in a very small town and graduated with only 22 kid in my senior high school class. I love just about every athletic sport there is, if I haven't tried it than I'm most likely willing to give it a shot!
I am someone who is very likable and very easy to get along with. Well I hope this is gives everyone a good since of who I am and what my interests are!! I look forward to seeing you all in China! Ni hao! If you bring your laptop, most laptops have dual currency, but the plug needs to fit with Chinese outlets. Your dormitory or hotel most likely will not have it. There are tons of internet cafes, etc throughout China. If you are planning on traveling a lot before or after, I'd recommend not to if it's heavy and expensive.
Towels are available in the hotel, but not in your teacher's dormitory. Purchasing a towel in China is very inexpensive; or if you wish to bring a towel, you can always leave it behind if you go shopping. Dress Code: We suggest being 'smart casual'. No mid-drifts, short skirts or shorts, cut-off shorts, gym tank tops, etc in the classroom.
Sandals are professional looking shoes are recommended. Exchanging Money: Money can be exchanged everywhere in China. Credit cards are widely accepted, but also check with your card's bank company if you have a foreign transaction fee. Cash advances with credit cards are doable, but check with your bank of the interest rate, transaction fees, etc.
What Do Things Cost: Like most destinations and developing nation, China's streets are filled with commericalism. There is a wide range of hole in the wall cafes, street markets, and hostels to luxury boutique stores, hotels, and restaurants, with everything in between. There are McDonald's, Starbucks, and KFCs in every street corner, and their combo meals are about the same as what it costs in the States.
I think. Taxis should have their meters running, so be sure to get in one that works. Water: Drink only bottled, filtered, or boiled water. Mobile Phones: God bless America's phone system. We are one of the only nations that has it's own band system. I do not recommend using your home mobile number to call your friends and family. It will be expensive; and you should also 'deactivate' receiving incoming calls, voicemails, etc If you wish to use your phone, you may need to call your phone carrier to have your phone 'unlocked' which means you can change out the SIM card.
This SIM card will be a pay as you go, so you can top it up at kiosks, stores, etc. Receiving incoming calls does not use up minutes are your card; just outgoing calls and texts. Your local rep can help you, and I'll be sure that Wallace helps you when you get to Beijing. If you don't have an account, consider it. If your friends and family have a SKYPE account too, you can talk and video chat for free on the internet. With a limited budget, I would recommend bringing hometown goodies.
Pins, buttons, stickers, postcards, handtowels, etc that represent your hometown, your University, etc. If your hometown specializes in a particular food or candy, cookbook, that may be nice if you have room. Laundry: There will most likely be laundry facilities at your dormitory. If not, there will surely be a full service laundromat not laundry service with hotels It is cheap and affordable. China is dusty, polluted, and it's summer time, hot, humid with a billion people, cars, etc. Unless you like to be "Pig-Pen," the dusty and dirty character from Charlie Brown, I recommend having hand sanitizers, wet wipes, tissues packs easily found in China, but if you want soft tissues Get pocket size packs and fill 'er up!
If you have more questions or suggestions, I encourage you to contact me or leave a message on the blog. Yi Lu Shun Feng! Today was a hard day. We woke up at 6am to watch the sun-rise and prepare for a stroll around Lake Nakuru traveling to a hot spring. Well unbeknown to me, it wasn't a stroll it was a 10 mile hike lasting 3 hours.
I was mentally complaining the entire time so much so that I couldn't enjoy the beautiful scenery. Once we finally arrived at the hot spring I started to lighten up a bit.
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I don't know if it was the fact that we made it before I turned 34 or if it was the naked man we saw bathing in the hot spring. Unfortunately, we didn't see his "jewels" but I did get to watch his six pack glisten in the sun. Soaking in the hot spring was amazingly relaxing and perfect after our long hike. After soaking in the water for about an hour we set out to Hells Gate.
Our plan was to see the wildlife on Lake Navisha flamingos and rhinos then take a bike ride through Hells Gate to the Hells Gate Gorge and go for a hike. My first mistake was imagining our bike ride would be similar to pedaling a beach cruiser along the Newport Beach boardwalk.
I have been in Kenya long enough to know that nothing here is like Orange County, California. Let me rephrase that. Nothing in the world is like Orange County, California. Good, bad or indifferent it is the truth. My second mistake was letting my negative thoughts control my day. There were so many flamingos it looked like a lake of Pepto Bismol. And while I am on the subject, Pepto Bismol has saved my life on this trip! Anyway, after taking some pictures by the Sea of Pepto, we drove around looking for a rhino.
There are less than 50 black rhino left in the world, which makes them officially extinct. My day was getting better! The excitement of seeing something so rare re-energized me. I was ready for the next leg of the day, the bike and hike of Hells Gate Gorge. We rented three bikes because Stanley and Esther had to take the Safari van to get the transmission fixed. The debacle of the broken transmission is another story that I have chosen to forget. Since Stanley wasn't with us, Kathy, Mike and I were left to fend for ourselves. No big deal, it is just five miles to the gorge and on a bike it would be a breeze!
Not so much. The bikes we rented were so old I think they were made during the cold war. The handles were placed in a weird position, the seat was a piece of metal with leather over made to look like it was padded, which it was not. Thankfully we had rubber on the tires. I quickly realized my "beach boardwalk" was a path-o-rocks. After about 30 minutes of riding and only going one mile, Kathy's bike broke. She was pedaling, but the tires weren't moving. Our choices were to walk the bikes the rest of the way to the gorge, or have Mike take the bike back to get another.
Kathy and I chose the latter. I can't tell you how long it took, but while Kathy and I were waiting we saw tons of zebras and a mama with her baby giraffe. That made up for the bike fiasco. Finally, Mike arrived with the new bike and off we went. Once we reached the gorge we hired a tour guide to take us thousands of miles down to the inside of the gorge. Okay, it might not have been thousands of miles down, but Hells Gate Gorge is like a baby Grand Canyon.
We told our guide we wanted the 45minute mini tour, not the five hour tour. It was quite an experience hiking in the gorge. We had to build a human chain to get from one rock to the next. By the time we made it to the bottom of the gorge, what the locals call "hell", we were already at the 45 minute mark. And of course to get out of the gorge you must climb up to "heaven". By the time we got up to "heaven" we had invested four hours on this journey and we still had to go back.
I would like to say the bike ride back wasn't as bad as the way in, but it was worse. We got caught up in both a rain storm and a dust storm. I will admit it, I am being a tad ungrateful but it was a hard day. Deep down I am very grateful and know I will look back on this day with humor but right now the only thing I can be grateful for is the half a loaf of bread and butter I ate to comfort myself :. Until I'm in Antigua!!
Getting pretty excited YA'LL. Hmmm sooo plan plan plan! Turns out my very own mother wants to come visit. This is super exciting and cool, just the organization is kind of tough. Hopefully it'll work out, gotta figure out how to get her from the airport in Guatemala City to Antigua Safely I don't even know who's picking me up at the airport, where exactly I'll be living I feel a little clueless I must say. But there's still time to get the details down. Half of my nerves about this trip are from not knowing the details and not knowing what exactly is the plan.
The plane ticket is bought so that's half the battle I feel. Thats the commitment step. This is gonna happen. I still have a few things to take care of. Also wanting to plan some excursions and things to do. I made some friends through couchsurfing and will meet some locals that way when I get there for coffee. I know that sounds crazy, but couchsurfing is a very awesome and reliable! Everyone tells me I'll be fine and all that, I just can't be too careful.
I researched crime reports in Antigua I've talked to 3 people so far who have lived there and they said it's all just fine and not to worry. I really hope the volunteer housing has a lot of people there when I go. Nos Vemos! Hey, everyone. Now I never said I was going to be good at this whole blogging thing so you can't hold anything against me for my lapse in posting. But in reality, there hasn't been too much going on other than training.
Granted, this post will sure make it seem like a lot has happened, but compared to the first few weeks things have settled down quite a bit. So I'll try to give you as much of a rundown as I can. It was 2 hours in the morning noon and 2 in the afternoon , sometimes with a chinese lesson during lunch. It has been nice getting into a daily routine. The training sessions were classroom lessons taught by Isabella. It really opened my eyes to how much we take for granted with our native language.
I have never learned all the subtypes of verbs, adverbs, pronouns etc. But these are things that foreign language speakers have to learn. So yeah, training really not that exciting, not too much more to talk about. So now I'm going to skip to Thursday, because Thursday was pretty significant.
On thursday was the Lantern Festival, Aka. So we only had half a day of training and spent the rest of the day walking around the city watching the preparations for the festival. We wen't to the big park in Yangshuo and they had all of these chinese lanterns hanging from the trees and light posts. I got a bunch of pictures so you'll see what I mean when I post them i'm low on HD space so I need to figure out what to do.
It was interesting because most of the shops were closed and the streets were relatively quiet. So after walking around for a few hours Isabella took the 4 of us out to dinner with the family. It was a very nice dinner and we ate most of the typical local fare, beer fish, pineapple chicken, egg plant, etc yes you read that correctly fish, Mom you will have to at least try some. Anyways after dinner is when things got really interesting.
So just like chinese new year the local government set up a station where people could make the sweet dumplings i forgot the chinese name.
Of course they take all of the westerners and put them front and center so the chinese media, can take pictures of westerners doing chinese things. For a few hours I felt like I was some sort of celebrity because I couldn't walk 5 feet without some chinese person wanting to take a picture of me.
Anyways, I got to make about 20 dumplings which was fun. After we finished making dumplings we slowly walked back to the park. This was pretty difficult because for lantern festival it is considered good luck to walk about the streets.
Once we finally got to the park, Isabella told us that we needed to do a one of the several thousand chinese riddles hanging about the park. Of course these riddles were all in chinese and I had no idea what the answers were. So, Isabella figured out two of them for us and then informed the local TV station that we had "solved" the riddle. So they filmed Amelia and me walking up, acting like we knew the answer and then taking our solved riddle to the prize distribution point don't worry the reporters were all in on our scheme. So once we got to the prize booth we waited our turn to collect our winnings.
Of course, the typical chinese person would have only received one. So if anyone needs some Crest. I got you covered. Shortly afterwards Isabella's friend comes up to us with even more prizes which were laundry powder and bars of soap. So we were walking back through the park and every chinese person had to tell us how impressed they were So finally to end the night we walked back down west street to watch the fireworks show.
Okay, so thats all for now. Things on my side of the world are going rather nicely. The weather has quickly warmed up and it is now around 85 to 90 degrees during the day. My friend Sarah was in town for the weekend and that was very nice. The only bad repercussion of a busy weekend is that I somehow contracted a cold. I feel that the colds that I get here last so much longer because of all of the pollution that is in the air.
On a normal day, there are always little specks of soot that often show up on your tissue when you blow your nose. Thus, you can imagine a day when you are sick. However, I am slowly healing myself and am very happy that I will not be travelling anywhere this weekend. Now, I am sure that all of you are wondering why I gave this post the name that I did. Well, there is really only one possible answer That's right, this blog is about the majestic building that is considered one of the seven wonders of the worls.
Let me tell you, when you see the Taj in person, it is even more magnificent then you can imagine it to be. There is something about looking at the building from the main courtyard, that makes you want to never take your eyes off of it. The actual excursion to the Taj Mahal was done in one day. From previous volunteers having gone to Agra before, we knew that other then the actual visit to the Taj, there is nothing much to do in the city, thus the reason we planned it as only a day trip.
We started out the day at 6AM and took the 5 hour trip to Agra. We arrived in the city around AM and got a Tuk Tuk to the center of the city. After a short breakfast, we set out on our way. Since India has such a high pollution rate, there is meter area surrounding the Taj Mahal that is blocked off from any cars or Tuk Tuks. The only things that can get in are battery operated buses and cycle rickshaws. This is so that the beauty and whiteness of the Taj Mahal can be preserved.
Getting into the actual Taj was an adventure all it's own. This includes foot covers for your shoes, to be used once inside the actual building, and a bottle of water. We are then herded towards the long line of guests waiting to get into the compound that holds the gardens, secondary buildings and the Taj Mahal. This is perhaps one of the only places in India where it helps to be a women, has there is a ladies only line that moves significantly quicker then the gents one.
After going through numerous metal detectors, we finally entered the main compound. Now this is not the the compound where one can see the Taj Mahal, this is the pre-area that houses two secondary mausoleums. However, one can clearly see where the entrance to the garden that houses the Taj Mahal is, as there is a giant crowd around one doorway. It surly was pure madness. However, as you enter the garden, things get significantly calmer and there are numerous photo-ops. Basically the entire walk up to the Taj Mahal is a slow stop and start of trying to get the best picture.
Upon arriving at the front of the building, one puts their shoe covers on and ascents the giant stairs to wait in the 1 hour line so that you can enter the Taj. I have to say, the actual inside of the Taj Mahal was rather unimpressive, particularly for the hour line. But of course we had to say we actually went into the Magnificent Taj Mahal. Here are some interesting facts about the Taj Mahal: 1 It is actually an Islamic structure despite the belief that it is a temple built for the Hindu God Shiva. From the fort you can see the Taj Mahal, thus reminding the Shah what he would never be able to visit again.
View of entire courtyard and Taj. All those people are part of the Giant line to get inside the Taj. All in all it was a fabulous trip that could not be missed! Hope you all enjoy the photos and talk to you soon! The most memorable thing that I remember about China is the heat. It is a very disappointing thing to say, but it is the truth. Contrary to many people who are also traveling with Cultural Embrace, I have been to China twice in my lifetime, staying for a month each time in the busy city of Shanghai.
My parents, both Chinese, tell me that we have visited a considerable number of famous landmarks and cities. But I also remembered dying of the horrible, humid heat. Sweat and unquenchable thirst were constant unwelcome companions during my stays in China. As a child, I learned quickly that you could never carry along too much water.
So what possessed me to leave my cool, comfortable home in the United States in July, moreover in order to travel to the hot, humid, crowded streets of Beijing? It started during my second semester of my college. I was a college freshmen at the University of South Carolina at Columbia and was currently taking Elementary Mandarin classes. I had a number of great friends in that class, one of which included Deana Tourigny, who initially introduced me to Cultural Embrace. I was intrigued at the idea of traveling to China again, but at first I did not seriously think about it.
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However, after Deana enthusiastically began to talk about her trip more and more, I realized that I had picked up some of her excitement as well. I realized that I did want to go to China. Not only would I be able to expand my limited Mandarin and experience the diverse culture of a foreign country, but I would also be teaching English to willing Chinese students. The only obstacle for me was getting approval from my obstinate father.
So now here I am writing this reflection letter. Deana and I have finally purchased our plane tickets to Beijing, where we will be happily sharing our twenty-one hour flight together. As of now, with only about a week left until departure, I am fraught with excitement, curiosity, and a bit of anxiety. The latter stems from my own insecurities and worries: Will my students like me? Will I be a good teacher? How will I survive in Beijing with only a limited vocabulary at my command? These emotions have been growing as surely as July 1, our departure date from the US, draws closer.
I only expect all these emotions will explode when I wake up at 3 AM on the said date to catch our flight. I have heard that leaving early for a trip is always a good thing, but as of now I am not so sure. Oh well.
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Sleeping on a plane is always so rejuvenating after all. I teach her English every day. I have to be creative with how I approach this because I do lessons where we sit and I teach, which obviously can be boring especially for a girl who just started her summer break. I also try and have fun with her. Today we played Uno and watched Disney sing along videos. We then watched Monsters, Inc in English. I am such a good teacher. She told me that she was in Florence and wanted to visit me. So on Monday, she and another friend, Kate, hopped on a bus and came to Siena.
I gave them general directions to my house, and I walked out the front door to find them looking for me in the street. It was good to see some familiar faces, and be able to talk without having to think about every word I say. Colleen and Kate had informed me that they heard that somewhere in Siena there was a head and thumb on display. Disappointed that I had never heard of this, I went online, and sure enough, I discovered that the head and thumb of Saint Catherine of Siena are on display at the San Dominico Cathedral. I see this cathedral every day, but have never actually been inside.
Naturally, we made our way to the cathedral. On our way, while strolling through the streets, we stopped to get lunch. I managed to slightly impress them with my limited Italian, and we all enjoyed our meals thoroughly. Next, we arrived at the San Dominico Cathedral. With our main goal in mind, we set out to look for the head. After a few moments, we found it.
I could not get a picture of it, but you can find a good picture on the link I posted below I know you want to see it. I found it. There was absolutely no explanation of why the head and thumb of Saint Catherine were located in this church, and all we could manage to find was a questionably trustworthy website. Despite the fact the it is a. After the cathedral we kept strolling through the streets, went to the University of Siena, the Piazza del Campo, and, naturally, got gelato. I was asked to prepare jambalaya. I got chicken and fresh Italian sausage.
Needless to say, it was a hit. It is now probably a word I will avoid to stay away from trouble. He was pretty shy when we first met, but he warmed up to me pretty quickly. He recently discovered that he can sneak up to my room and we can cuddle in my bed. My host family yells at him, but he keeps coming back. His name is Bubino Bubi for short. I have never felt more popular. We walked for about thirty minutes, and when I took him to the Piazza del Campo, I caught a girl taking a picture of me.
I am currently experiencing my first Italian stomachache. It could be because I ate two lunches, had gelato twice today, and just made myself eat dinner I know that about every other problem in the world is worse than mine. Let me explain, though. The family I work for has another girl that works for them too. Her name is Anna, and she is twenty-eight something we could talk about in the realm of my vocabulary. We actually find it funny how difficult communicating is. However, we discovered something that helps: translation software. We sit with my laptop alternating between translating from Engligh-Italian and Italian-English.
Anna cleans, takes care of Francesca, and runs errands. My job so far seems to be to play with Francesca, make sure she practices her guitar, and to teach her English, which is quite enjoyable. This morning, when I woke up and after I struggled to wash my hair in a bathtub , I decided to go for a walk around Siena and maybe grab some lunch. I explained to Anna that I would be gone for about an hour, and it seemed like we understood each other.
I had a lovely, short walk around the town. I saw the Piazza del Campo the most famous attraction in Siena , and on my walk I figured that it was time to have my first gelato. It was so delightful and I felt so cool probably all in my head. On the way back to the house, I decided that I also needed a piece of pizza or two. I ate a little bit, and then returned home, where Anna was finishing up lunch.
The thing about Italian meals is that they are served in courses. So I finished my pasta and knew that I was very full, but out of courtesy, I just kept eating. What followed were peas, bread, and chicken. I was near tears with fullness. When I woke up, it was time for Francesca to practice guitar, and then it was time for me to have my first English lesson with her. It went surprisingly well: we practiced the alphabet, numbers, and some vocabulary.
It resulted in a lot of fun and giggling. Later, after Giovanni and Lucia got home, Giovanni, Francesca, and I went for a walk to retrieve her backpack from somewhere that she had left it. It turned into a delightful tour of Siena, and Giovanni was able to show and tell me a lot about the city.
We walked past the San Giovanni Cathedral that he was named after , and he showed me the house where he was born. He explained that his mother had passed away two months ago, but she had lived to be We arrived at what I gathered was a recreational-church-community center that had a beautiful garden and places for people to play sports. Francesca grabbed her backpack, and while her dad spoke to someone, we walked in the garden. After this, we started our journey home the long way.
Giovanni continued to tell me interesting things about Siena, and it was a great experience. While walking home, Francesca asked for ice cream. I was informed that dinner was left on the table. I then continued to eat half the pasta, a small salad, a few pieces of meat, and three slices of melon. Needless to say, I regret eating all of this food. I just wanted to document my first Italian stomachache. We all know how dedicated, inspirational, and powerful Oprah is, and how much of an influence she is to our culture.
Everything she touches turns to gold. Oz, and much more. How does she do it? I have subscribed to her O magazine several times in the past, but with time constraints and attention deficiencies I usually half-heartedly flip through the pages at airports or wee hours before bed. But, there is something about her that makes me want to listen, read, and hear what she has to say. Admit it--you feel it too, right? I became your surrogate—to ask the questions, deliver the answers, learn, grow, expand my thinking, challenge my beliefs and the way I looked at the world. I listened and grew, and I know you grew along with me…Sometimes I was the teacher, and more often, you taught me.
Connecting ourselves to exchange ideas, love, opinions, beliefs, experiences, and so much more. To teach and learn. An opportunity for us to Discover the Similarities and Share the Differences. So if in Oprah we trust, who does Oprah trust? Who does she turn to and how did she get so successful? Nothing but the hand of God has made this possible for me. I know I've never been alone, and you haven't either. And I know that that presence, that flow—some people call it grace—is working in my life at every single turn.
And yours too, if you let it in. It's closer than your breath, and it is yours for the asking…Even when I didn't have a name for it, I could feel the voice bigger than myself speaking to me, and all of us have that same voice. Be still and know it. You can acknowledge it or not. You can worship it or not. You can praise it, you can ignore it or you can know it. Know it. It's always there speaking to you and waiting for you to hear it in every move, in every decision. I wait and I listen. I'm still—I wait and listen for the guidance that's greater than my meager mind.
I am by no means Oprah. No matter who you are. I got enough work done to call it a day, hit the gym, and connect with friends. Sorry its been so long, I have been very distracted as of late. My computer broke, I lost friends, I gained friends, I went swimming… I smell something burning.
Moving on, last week was pretty much a blur, a lot of new work and training. I am now learning our Tibetan routes, as I started sales today yay! I have been offered a post grad job here for a few years. Definitely something to chew on. Speaking of chewing on, I had pizza this past week, it made me delirious. It was a Chinese national holiday similar to the American Labor Day. I also tried new foods this week… chicken blood, eel, sea creature of unidentified origin Manny and I couldnt pinpoint what it was and have taken to calling it sea creature.
We went to Hot Pot with a girl named Olivia who was in from Shanghai, she was a total sweetheart, and we walked all the way from dinner which was on the north west side of town, to the clubs on the south east side of town it was a surprisingly refreshing walk. We stopped along the way to pick up a dress for 20 quai for me which looked fantastic with my sneakers, and a shirt for Manny to replace the oil splashed one he ruined at hot pot I suggested we just rub some mud and other weird stuff on it to make it look like part of the design.
Either way, we had a blast and a free bottle of champagne, oh how I love being foreign. On Saturday Manny, Florence, and I did 6 hours of ktv…. It was awesome. We did everything from Elvis to Lady Gaga. This was all for only 15 RMB per person, non-alcholic drinks included! I was a little shy at first, but I was belting out by the end of the first hour, I was belting it out like I was possessed by Whitney Huston herself.
I met a bunch of local girls, which was nice.