It’s Never an Adventure While You’re On It

 Getting lost seems to be a common problem for me.  I guess it’s good because it means I’m getting out and exploring.  My friend Chris tells me that I will look back on these experiences as cool adventures, but it doesn’t seem quite so cool in the moment when I can’t find my way around a new city.

 I’ve gotten lost on campus two days in a row, but both times the Chinese students have helped me find my way home.  The problem is there is construction going on in the campus so one day they just built a wall right where the gate was that led me from my apartment to the center of campus. This is the zebra building.  If I can make it that far I know my way back to my apartment.

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The wall is such a problem now because now a 15 minute walk to class has become 30 minutes and I don’t have a bike or anything to get around.  It wasn’t so bad today walking but if the weather is bad it’s going to be a really terrible trip.  The building itself is a clock tower.  I love the architecture.

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These are the stairs I will climb up for class on Monday’s and Wednesday’s.  I guess I won’t need a stairmaster.

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Here is my classroom.  It’s a really great University.  It’s one of the top schools and because of that there is heat and AC in my classroom.  That is a luxury that is not standard in China.  After checking things out I asked a Chinese student where the bathroom was.  She replied “I’ll show you” and smiled brightly at me.  That’s one of the great things about China, everyone smiles all the time.  The students seem so happy when I ask them for help.  The bathroom was a squatty-potty and I don’t have strong enough thigh muscles yet to hold that position.  I went home instead.

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 Yesterday Mary (who is quickly becoming my adopted grandmother) and Sabine and I went to Wal-Mart.  I asked how far it was there and everyone said “just a little ways”.  A little ways in Chinese time is about a 45 minute walk or maybe 3 miles or so (I’m not really sure how far because I don’t have a pedometer or anything to clock the distance).  I didn’t wear my sneakers so the ballet flats I had on quickly became very much like walking barefoot on concrete and my feet and hip sockets were sore this morning when I woke up.  I’ll get used to it though… this is China.

 Everyone here shops at Wal-Mart, it’s always super-packed.  When we were finishes shopping (and putting everything in our reusable grocery bags), Mary suggested we take the elevator back down to the first floor.  There was this little Chinese girl who got on and her mother smiled and pointed at me.  I waved at her and she grinned back.  I think we may be the first foreigners she has ever seen (or at least enough of an oddity to draw attention).

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 I’ve told you all the great stuff about China, so in all fairness I think you should see the not-so-great as well.  The pollution here is terrible.  Andrew was telling me today that there was an incident last year where the sky turned orange for a day and the pollution level was at 800.  Everyone was ordered not to go outside, and the one American that did go out wore a gas mask.  Standard pollution levels in big cities in the US is 50.  Anything more than that is considered hazardous, then again… this is China.

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I found this today on the way home.  The fish smell was overwhelming, and huge dead fish were all over the lake.  There were also fisherman fishing on poles a little ways off.  It makes me wonder where the fish at the market come from.  Hmmm.

 There is a road from the gate to my apartment but it is totally curvy and about an extra half mile long so I normally take the shortcut along here to go home.  At least they recycle… kind of.  There are several old men and street cleaners (considered the lowest class of people), who will go through all the trash looking for paper, plastic or glass because they can turn it in for money.  Most of the English teachers try to separate the recycling so the people can find it easier. 

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Lastly, I told you I was not going to eat fast food in China.  I’ve already broken that rule.  Some of my family lives off campus and works at another school here in town.  They wanted McDonalds for lunch so I got chicken nuggets.  Matt drove me over there on the moped. It  was a life changing experience because the streets here are crazy and people don’t stop if they see you coming.  Also one of last year’s teachers left and Matt inherited their apartment to keep it in the family.  They had a huge bedroom full of stuff that they were giving away.  I got plates and bowls, a laptop bag, aprox. 40 DVD’s, a Scrabble game, and several books including some really good ones that are bi-ligual. 

That’s about it until next time.  I have to work on my lessons tomorrow so I will be prepared for Monday.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Molly says:

    Love this journey you are having and love that you choose to share it with us!! Keep telling us more! I’ve always wanted to go there!!

    1. Molly –

      I’m so glad you are reading this. I’m having a great time, but there are some challenges. I’m thinking next time I’ll take pictures of things in my apartment like my washing machine, water boiler, squatty-potty, and dish sterilizer. I hope your family is doing well. I would love to hear about what is going on with you.

      Hope to hear from you soon.

      – Chrissi

  2. Vicky says:

    Love all the photos!! I’m so glad to read the details! Looks like you will indeed be getting lot of exercise! We begin our first day of homeschooling Monday! We are in our way home from Tennessee right now & had a marvelous and uplifting time. I’m glad you inherited that Scrabble game among other things-my favorite game!;). I play Words with Friends too if you need a player! Keep smiling! Love ya!

    1. Vicky –
      I’m so glad you like my posts. I got a new pocket size camera that I brought with me to China so I could take lots of pictures. I am still in culture shock, it’s a lot to take in and so different from the U.S. I hope Samuel and Grace like homeschooling. If you ever want to do a unit on China let me know. I could skype with you all maybe. I’m 12 hours ahead so you could call me in the morning before 10 am (I’m usually in bed by around 10 or so).

      I am not good at scrabble but I figure that would be the best way for students to practice their English if I have a get-together at my apartment.

      It’s really good to hear from you. Maybe you all could email me sometime and let me know how things are going at CS. I’d love to get an update on all my friends in Louisville.

      I will talk to you soon.

      – Chrissi

  3. Bidigare says:

    How exciting Chrissi!
    Love, The Bidigare Family

  4. Juanita Puckett says:

    your posts are so interesting. The kids really enjoy them and plan to do a report on them. Glad everything is going so well sounds like lots of exercise. Give us more info on the grocery store, etc. Is it still in the 90’s here. The kids are starting a study on Wuhan so
    any unusual info would be great. Miss you.

    1. Thanks Juanita. I miss everyone back home too. Please keep writing to me, I cherish all the positive comments.

      – Chrissi

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