Friday: We arrived late in Shiijazhuang and ate dinner on street (first real Chinese meal) was amazing!
Saturday: Went through the exchanging of money process again because they are incredibly picky about what bills they accept and which they do not I had $60 dollars turned away the other day when I exchange due to slight tears and ink marks on the bills…the humorous part is my American money was straight from the bank (thank you Wells Fargo). We then went to the Future Mall was 5 stories and had any and every brand of clothing you could think of plus a grocery store in it. Later that afternoon we had our first Chinese Language Classes, it was interesting but we learned the Chinese alphabet and how to pronounce all Chinese characters so it was extremely beneficial. I can now hold a conversation to the extent of asking someone how they are doing and counting as well. For dinner we had an assignment to bargain and order our food on our own after riding the bus for 10 minutes, my group was Ryan, Sean, Paige and Shaina. Our success on the bargain was a big fail not much success at all actually…but we ended up eating at a hole in the wall restaurant and ordered 5 different dishes only one of them was not the greatest (green beans with a weird brown sauce) I was pretty impressed with the quality of food in which we ordered especially since the menu was entirely in Chinese and we just pointed and said jigga, jigga, jigga… (this, this, this)
Sunday: We had Chinese classes again and did a review and learned some specific scenarios that could arise and we may need to know how to converse in Chinese.
We then had a meeting with one the schools Foreign Affairs Office and a English teacher from Drake that has been in Shiijazhuang for the last 3 years teaching… It was incredibly informative and I now know expectations of the school and students of me for the next year in terms of my teaching to some extent (I’m sure it differs from school to school) We then were on our own and Ryan hadn’t been feeling the greatest so agreed to go to Pizza Hut for dinner with Ryan, Sean, Paige, Shaina, and Uji it was a lot like America (hen hao shir- very delicious). The majority of our group ended up going out to a club called Mazzo (it is a lower key club like you would see in Vegas) and it does not matter the day it is incredibly packed.
Immediately when we arrived two Chinese guys got into a fight and cracked each others heads open by through mason jars at each others heads, this resulted in about 30 people getting kicked out, security was all of it. Surprisingly it made no difference in the club couldn’t even tell that people got kicked out..
Monday: We had our final Chinese classes today and we had to practice in “role play” situations. I feel as though I have learned a lot in the last few days in terms of customary ways to do things in China as well as Mandarin. We then had a cross-cultural simulation and discussion that was very interesting to do we broke up into two groups and we were separately told how our “culture” acted and did things and then eventually had to go into each others culture with no knowledge of what theirs was like and try to adapt. After we had done this for about an hour we then discussed how we felt going into each others environment and things we noticed being an outsider… Most of the observations were negative towards the other “culture” and typically people were offended or disrespected by someone “a foreigner” entering their culture without the “foreigner” knowingly doing so. It was interesting to think of it in terms how we act sometimes before observing how things are done in places unknown to us.
We then had our home stays and my family had one girl that was 17 years old who spoke great English and the mother who spoke about as much English as I did Chinese so it was very hard to communicate with her.
They picked us up from our training site in Shiijazhuang, we then traveled to their home across town…driving up to it I was nervous it looked a bit sketch I will not lie and people stacked on top of one another. They guided me up to their apartment on the 3rd floor and I was throughly impressed once I got inside, it was a beautiful home. They said it was approximately 1,000,000 RMB which is roughly $153, 900 aka incredibly expensive apartment…They had the 2 bedrooms, large living room/dining room, porch, kitchen and bathroom. I didn’t want to be rude so only took a picture of the room in which I stayed in. It full of furniture you would typically see in the U.S. nothing really out of the ordinary just decorated with more “Asian type” decor. Picture below:
They then took me out to a supposed famous duck restaurant it was very nice, their hospitality was over the top and they allowed me to pick out “any and all” food that I would like. So I proceeded to pick out a couple dishes that I knew I would like and asked that they would pick out some of their favorite dishes. In China it is customary to order many dishes and share amongst the table unlike in the U.S. you order your own dish and typically do not share. It also is not rude to leave food on the table, I would find it impossible to eat all the food on the table because they see “eating all of your food” as they didn’t sufficiently supply enough for you and continue to try to feed you. So have to continually say (I am full: Wǒ bǎo) otherwise they will just load your plate with food till you politely decline. So dinner came to a wrap and they took me for dessert of course, I got my lesson on moon cakes (essential ingredient lotus flower).
We then went back to there home and they informed me of places I should go on vacation throughout my stay by showing me tons of family pictures from Shanghai, Chengde, Beijing, and Macau all places that look beyond beautiful and exciting. One of my favorite parts of the night was the lesson on Chinese medicine practices and beliefs as well as learning the purpose of each kind of tea… my personal favorite was (pu’er cha) which supposedly helps you lose weight:) 🙂 Because of my jet lag still affecting me I was so exhausted from my full day and went to bed fairly early.
They woke me up early took me out and about and showed me a little more of Shiijazhuang and then took me back to our hotel where we met up with the rest of our group again. It was very cute how close we got, I was the first foreigner to stay with them and they were very eager to invite me back to their home. They told me any time I am in Shiijazhuang again I shall stay with them and to keep in touch. The daughter gave me her email address to keep in touch and fully intend to do so.
Tuesday: We did a bit of the tourist thing and went to Longxing Temple in Zhengding, Shiijazhuang. Originally named as “Longxing Temple” (Dragon-hidden Temple), Longxing Temple is one of the earliest, well-preserved and large-scale Buddhism temples in China. It is a key cultural relic under national protection. Its construction began in the 6th year in the reign of Kaihuang in Sui Dynasty (581AD-618AD).
The buildings of the temple, namely, Tianwang Hall, Moni Hall, Mituo Hall, Jietan Altar, and Dabei Pavilion, are evenly laid out on a central axis. Dabei Pavilion is the key building in the temple, housing a well-known 21-meter-high bronze Dabei Buddha with 42 arms. Moni Hall is famous for its structure, its plan being like the shape of a cross, and is the only structure with this shape in Song Dynasty. The frescos and colorful Guanyin Buddha Statue inside the hall are of high value.
One thing I have quickly figured out is drinking is a very common and popular thing to do here no matter the time, all restaurants offer beer to you for every meal at all times of day. Another dangerous alcohol here is called (baijiu) it is terrible tasting but definitely does the job, I haven’t drank it cause the taste is way to distinctive and gross for me but some in our group of taken I liking I think. I don’t know if I mentioned it before but some would say New York City or Las Vegas are the cities “that never sleep” it seems as though China is the country “that never sleeps.” Literally, restaurants or bars will be open until you leave even if it says they close at 3am and you are still there at 5am, and they will still open at 7am it is crazy!!!
Wednesday: Off to Chongqing and had a short scare because there was not a ticket for me, but Bob Yang’s lady friend helped me out and that was resolved!! Again ran into trouble with my overweight bags had to pay an additional $110 luckily not as bad as in America but still hurt a little! Luckily they weigh all your bags together and you get 20 Kilos total per bag, and every additional kilo over 20 they charge…mine just happened to be 49 kilos over!!! I dont know if you have figured it out yet or not but I am a terrible packer, worst thing about it is I have now realized I could probably have made it with out being over weight, if only I could have realized that about 3 weeks earlier:)
Here we come Chongqing….soooo excited!