So I have to be honest and say I have not been keeping up with my journal at all whatsoever, so here is a general highlighting update of where I am at this moment.
I have met two Australians, named Emma and Michael, and also Michael’s roommate, Wilson, who is from Ecuador, and we have all started hanging out a lot together. They are really cool, and we exchange Australian and State’s weird different cultural sayings. I find myself saying certain things with an Australian accent, and it is really fun. They are all here as English teachers and are also teaching a few business classes in English. Wil has been here for 9 months already, studying Chinese, and he is very good and our translator when we are out together. Emma and Michael both just recently graduated from “university” and are having to adjust to being the teacher and not the student. We have all sorts of fun listening to their adventures as teachers and come up with funny things they can do in class that their students will not understand.
Wil and Michael have an apartment that is just off campus, and this past Saturday we had a small party with a lot of different internationals that I got together. French, German, Indonesian, Columbia, Britain, Hungarian, Australian, American, Ecuadorian. Quite amazing how many different nationalities there are here, all living and learning together. Jim and I feel spoiled and blessed because the communication language is English and we have a great advantage because it is our mother tongue and we don’t have to think to speak in it, yet everyone else is communicating together in their second/third language. It is amazing to me how many different languages people from Europe speak. They take it for granted almost, learning language. Whereas in the states me learning a third language is seen as crazy and so different, they will already speak three or even four languages and now be learning Chinese!
My class is going well, I am learning a lot, even though I get frustrated. A class room is a class room, and inefficient for learning language quickly and what you want to know. I wish almost every day that I had a one-on-one teacher instead of sitting in class all morning feeling lost and frustrated. I love my first teacher, she is wonderful and cute and young and funny. My second teacher is well-meaning and seems to know a lot, but somehow she never manages to get us to connect with what is going on. The guy from Canada that is in my class explained it … She is like a mother-in-law: well-meaning and nice, and yet somehow everyone is incredibly annoyed with her all the time. I think that is the best analogy we have come up with so far… so you get the idea! She is super nice and if I can construct the question I want to ask quickly and at least half-way understandably, she can normally help me out, although 75% of the time in those two hours I spent lost and frustrated. I throw my pencil on my desk a lot, and everyone who speaks English laughs when I do. :)
Here in a week, we have a national holiday that lasts about 10 days. Michael, Jim, Emma, Myself and possibly Wil are going to go to Bautou, China!
I am so excited. At first we wanted to go into Tibet, but there was not enough time to coordinate all of the visa’s and permits you need to have, and there was threat of quarantining us on the university, so we decided not to invest in $500 plane tickets out there, only to be stuck in Qingdao. EVERYONE here is so paranoid about H1N1! It is soo crazy! The university will decide on Saturday whether or not we will be quarantined over the break. There are currently (as of last time I heard) 5 cases of H1N1 on campus. If on Saturday there are 15, we will be shut in here for the whole break. All of my language partners always say when you ask how they are that they are scared of the H1N1 virus. It is border line ridiculous.
So, instead of buying plane tickets we might not get to use, if we are not quarantined, we are going to train out to Baotou and then bike in the area for about 6 days and then train back to Qingdao (it takes 26 hours to train there). You can buy train tickets closer to time, and for cheaper, so that is why we decided to go this route. Today Jim and I bought two 2-man backpacking tents, we still need to get bikes and one more backpack, check out the prices of tickets, and plan on what kind of food we will be able to take/eat/cook. I am so excited!!! The trip of a lifetime, with 3 or 4 pretty good friends. Oh ya. I still can’t believe I’m in China! It is surreal, at times hard, and mostly wonderful. :)
Wan an! (Goodnight!) 晚安！