Sunday, February 22, 2009

Day 7

So sorry it's be a while... things have been smooth the past week.  Just adjusting, getting used to the family flow and whatnot.  Tomorrow is the first day of classes, so I'll let you know how that goes.  For now, I'll list off a few things, tell a brief summary of it, and we'll go from there.

Host Family
They are great.  Mama is a retired factory worker who loves to sing karaoke, play piano, dance, and try to guess what foods I like and don't like.  She always says "americans don't like this", but then I tell her I am different... that I do like a lot of "those" things, and it confounds her.  She doesn't seem to believe me, but I eat it, and I think she's slowly getting used to it.  haha..
Baba works about 9am-7pm at one of the local universities.  I reckon my university is English focused, and the one he works at is Russian focused.  So he speaks Russian.  Which he told me, obviously does us no good...haha...
Gege (brother) is a manager at a computer company.  Works from 10am-8pm or so sometimes later.  He loves American Movies... and video games.  Pete would like him...ha

The thing that I like most about them is they aren't overwhelming.  The other homestay kids say their families cook huge meals every night, and shower them with stuff.  My family: very chill, haven't had a meal with more than 1 person at a time, no over feeding, no showering of stuff... exactly what I hoped for.  I reckon the guy they had last semester was said to know chinese, but they told me he spoke next to no chinese, and it was difficult.  He loved sitting in his room watching US movies that he bought for cheap on the street, so they assume I love it too.  I don't watch any movies.  They also assumed I love to drink beer, and that I hate Fensi (粉丝, a type of noodles), which happens to be my favorite (it's the clear kind...).  But they are getting used to me.  Mama is comfortable with my chinese now, and Baba is still not convinced I understand anything .... haha... He hasn't met an american who speaks any decent amount of Chinese.  But I understand most of what they say.  I also translate a lot for the other homestays.  I am the only one who speaks enough chinese... most don't know any.  So some random host mom will come down and ask "Lu-keh, what is he saying!?" and I'll intermediate... it's fun.

Interviews for Internships
Have been alright.  In the least, I've had to figure out how to get around Shanghai all on my own.  The company I think I'm going with is Student Quest, who basically recruits Chinese University students to work summer jobs in the US as part of a English/culture experience.  I like them mostly because their office is right in the middle of a popular part of Shanghai, the metro lets off right at the foot of their building, and they are on the 11th floor with a great great view of the city, and I might get to travel around China with them for presentations and whatnot.

Again, it's all tasty, but so so much oil.  I love the food at the small restaurants, get a meal for $1.20 USD.  My host mom and dad say... "you are young, and so need to eat more."  I say... I'm honestly full enough.  If I eat too much, I'll feel sick.  And other past homestays say they gained a ton of weight, which I don't want to do... ha...  Also, another logic thing that isn't so much related to food, but along the same lines as "if you don't eat more, you'll be hungry...": they keep telling me I'm not wearing enough clothes, that it's too cold in the house.  But I'm a warm blooded kinda guy.  I'm fine.  I feel hot with my sweatshirt on, but they aren't convinced even when I tell them "I'm too hot, so I'll take off my sweater..."

That's all for now.  Need some sleep!  Oh, and my class schedule is great: 10am-3pm, Mon-Thurs.  12-1 we have lunch, so yeah.  


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Adventure from Day 1...

Basically what happened, was I needed to get my electronic dictionary fixed. For some reason, it was doing fine for the 1st several weeks of my owning it, but then it would either not turn on, or it would turn on to the 'welcome' screen, but not let me use it. Yep.

So I explained all that to the lady (who works for this electronics place) in Chinese, and she was messing with it, and she eventually says "it's probly the battery, go to 'this' place and you can find one for cheap." I tell her... "ok, where is 'this' place?" She says, "don't worry, I'll take you there."

Very kind and not normal. She goes to the back, takes off her work apron, tells a few people she'll be back in a little bit, then we start walking. 5 minutes later, we get to this battery stand, and she starts explaining things and trying out batteries... really helping me out a lot, taking care of the situation. Granted, we finally come to the conclusion that the issue isn't the battery, it's my dictionary that has the issue, so yeah, no need to have made the trip but oh well.

We walked back, I thanked her (a ton...) and she kept saying "oh, it's no big thing, don't worry about it!" So I learned some strangers will help and they are honest. Fun, and totally 100% in Chinese.

More on Day 2 coming soon...!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Day 1

It's begun.  (technically, yesterday...).  We went through orientation, which was basically a 3 hours talk on alcohol.  Very dissapointing us "Americans" have to be lectured on this so much... They played us a video of a bunch of Chinese students on campus, asking them questions about American students.  They said we like to go out to bars, and are normally "strong-willed and spontaneous", which I took to mean "noisy and reckless".  Hmm.

I like the staff.  All very nice and professional, they speak Chinese to us (when appropriate... a lot of kids here don't speak much Mandarin).  After introductions and the alcohol talk, we were split up into groups of 7.  My group was me, Ken (Penn State), and 5 other girls.  They're all very nice, talkative (but not excessive), and we've all been bonding in our experiences here sofar.  Granted, I'm used to the Asian-ness of things, like traffic and food and whatnot, but it's still fun to see them wide-eyed about it all.

Our group went to a homestay to eat food, as did every group.  I was the only lucky one of the homestay students, cuz we ate at my homestay!  Joy.  My host mom was the only one there though, with her friend, but she's very nice and oh so excited to have us over.  I reckon she had a student last semester, whom they said 'spoke some chinese', but she said he didn't speak any... and she was so surprised I could speak, so she talked my ear off about the house and 'do you like your room?  is the bathroom big enough, cuz if not you just come and use the big one in our room..." etc... haha...  But yeah, I move in tonight or tomorrow... she says tonight, the program schedule says tomorrow.

My room, btw, is sweet.  At least as big as my hotel room here (2 person room).  Got a bed, lazy boy chair, big closet, a tv, speakers, a great view... I'll take some pics and you'll see better...

Speaking of which, here are some photos of our hotel room (I'm rooming with one other homestay, Matt from Lawrence, NY.)

Next we went to this huge 15 story mall, Zhongshan Park Mall.  Spent 2 hours buying, waiting for others to buy phones.  Finally, time to go home, I take Matt and this other IU girl to eat at a local small place, help them order chinese food, and it was delicious.

Not much more than that... one adventure to tell from yesterday, but I must be off.


Saturday, February 14, 2009


Hey everyone.  It's been a while, but now I'm in Incheon Airport waiting to get on a 1hr 50min flight to Shanghai. Great weather sofar in Korea, maybe 40-50 degrees out.  Sept for today, in which case it snowed.  It also snowed the day I arrived in Korea, so... a sign?  haha...

My time in Korea was good, though not much to report about.  Parents went to DC for interviews and such, so I was alone for a week.  Pretty much just go up, went for a run, went out to one of the local pastry shops, got some coffee and ate breakfast while studying chinese, get home, make lunch, make some music on the computer, teach piano after school, go somewhere for dinner, and the day is done.  Not too much venturing, but it was a good time.  No school, no stress.

It feels like I'm used to Asia now.  I hear "10,000 won" and it's no biggie (10,000 won is about $7.50 US right now...).  So I'm not super excited for Shanghai.  I'm ready to be there, to get things going, but I'm not bouncing off the walls or anything.  I just hope my mandarin is doing ok... I've been studying a lot, but not speaking a ton.  I mostly just watch Shin Chan in Chinese, and it's amusing.  I understand everything they say now.  So yippee.

I hope I get to move in with my host family today.  Living out of my suitcase in the dorms doesn't seem so great... but I'll keep you posted.  Once I get some internet, let you know what's up.

Till then, 再见!