October 19, 2014

Dear clothes,

One day I seek to grab the hangers you rest on and fold you without having to shake you for 20 seconds to make sure that your new found residences are no longer clutching onto your fabric holding on for dear life. Alas, I know this will never happen so I’m hoping that I’ll only have to shake each piece of you for about 5 seconds before all of your small beetle buddies fall out. Hopefully we can call that a truce!

Best,
Dan

October 17, 2014

I know the quality of these pictures is terrible but this deserves an entry. While riding on the metro I was quietly reading to myself (something that almost no one does from what I’ve seen) and I noticed that everyone on the seats next to me and across from me was glued to their mobile devices. Every single person. Not one was talking or engaging in social interaction but they were all deeply enthralled by their digital devices. Now, I’m not saying this is always a bad thing. I feel that sometimes it’s nice to check the news, listen to some music, message a friend, etc. I get that, it’s totally cool with me, I’m not about dissing that.

Just thinking out loud and perhaps I seem like an Luddite or something but you could read a book, chat with your friends, think about life(introspective - woot) or consider to do lists, things to accomplish for the day. Honestly I’d love to see a random dude just break down and dance on the subway - I mean why not? It’s not going to happen but I like to entertain the idea.

All of these thoughts come to you from the comfort of my own computer room in China where I stare at a 15.3’ screen and listen to Pandora so maybe I’m a hypocrite. You can decide.

I wish that I was able to see what it was like here 10 years ago. How different would Chongqing be and how would people act? Would they still be introverted and less social on the subways? Would they clutch newspaper close, and rush onto the subways without waiting for other people to get off? Perhaps, but the idea of seeing a different former reality is enticing. It will never happen so in my mind I’d like to think that everyone was helpful, courteous, and honest, while people had wallets in their back pockets as they calmly waited for everyone to exit the metro trains before others got on.

October 15, 2014

Last Thursday Brigid, my site mate, and our counterparts invited us out to eat pizza with them at a shopping center near our university named Sunny Block or Xi Jie. It’s a decent place and has a plethora of shops to explore.

This pizza place we visited was pretty. For starters, It’s not on the ground level like many of the shops. It’s on the fourth floor of a complex and appears to be a business that was converted from an apartment into a pizza shop. I’m pretty sure the owner also lives there and she climbs up the stairs and then walks into her own apartment. They had a sign outside but the sign was a piece of paper next to the door. Down the hall was a place for students who were preparing to take a test to gain admission to graduate school programs. The rest of the fourth floor hall seemed like people’s homes.

Overall the pizza wasn’t bad but it’s nothing to write home about. The reason that it’s worth a blog entry is because of the location. It’s my first pizza apartment experience. If I run into any other unique eateries in my adventures abroad I’ll be sure to blog about those as well.

October 10, 2014

A video of national holiday after I just got off the metro at da xue cheng.

October 9, 2014

The Chinese national holiday is the largest human movement of people on the planet. During this time a bunch of my students want to go home to visit their families. Popular tourist destinations are all busy and the streets are filled with people. Luckily, I purchased my groceries early, grabbed a few books, started planning a few lesson plans and stayed at home while the crazy happened outside. I only really ventured out on one day and you can see that if you want to go anywhere during national week it’s not going to be easy.

October 8, 2014

Sometimes certain alcohol should be kept in the international aisle so that other citizens not living in that country can drink and enjoy said beverage. Sadly, Korean beer is not of those beverages and I genuinely wonder who in their right mind would buy “hite” or “cass” if they were not Korean or incredibly homesick.

Whenever I talk to Koreans about how disappointing their beer is I smile and say something like: “You know in Korea you have such amazing food, so I always wonder what do you think about your beer?” When my friends and others have been drinking for awhile they tell me something to the extent of, “Yea, it’s pretty terrible, but at least we have soju.”

October 7, 2014
Finding peanut butter, cinnamon and cinnamon swirl bread in China feels like an accomplishment and deserves a blog post! I was afraid that I’d have to scour the Chinese website Taobao in order to find this stuff but I managed just find by walking around downtown Chongqing. If you’re interested Taobao is an online website in China where you can buy almost anything. It’s like Ebay but with less restrictions and perhaps not quite as safe. You have to check individual seller policies and make sure that you check user ratings as well to make sure that you come out on the winning side of your purchase. If you search in English instead of Chinese prices are also sometimes higher.
I’ll use Taobao soon and talk about my experience but for now I’m going to sit down and enjoy my bread, cinnamon and peanut butter.

October 7, 2014

Finding peanut butter, cinnamon and cinnamon swirl bread in China feels like an accomplishment and deserves a blog post! I was afraid that I’d have to scour the Chinese website Taobao in order to find this stuff but I managed just find by walking around downtown Chongqing. If you’re interested Taobao is an online website in China where you can buy almost anything. It’s like Ebay but with less restrictions and perhaps not quite as safe. You have to check individual seller policies and make sure that you check user ratings as well to make sure that you come out on the winning side of your purchase. If you search in English instead of Chinese prices are also sometimes higher.

I’ll use Taobao soon and talk about my experience but for now I’m going to sit down and enjoy my bread, cinnamon and peanut butter.

October 5, 2014

Teaching is something that I absolutely love doing but I realize that I haven’t really written about what classes I teach and what I do while I’m here at Chongqing Normal University. Lets break it down:

I currently teach:
-18 hours a week
-11 classes (7 - 2 hour classes and 4 - 1 hour classes)
-330 Students, about 31/32 in my undergraduate courses and 20-38 in my graduate level classes
-Sophomores English Majors 7 (2 hour) classes
-Grad Students English Majors 4 (1 hour) classes

It’s keeping me busy and I’m really enjoying the process but I started off originally have 18 hours of classes and then my teaching load was cut down to 14 hours. A week later after I started teaching I was asked if I could teach graduate students. I said that I’d like to know some background information on them and their needs and they told me they’d get back to me. A week later on Monday night I got a text at 4:30 from my counterpart Dana, a fellow English teacher, telling me to call her immediately. She informed me that I would be teaching my new graduate students the next day and that I’d have 4 hours of class. This sort of change isn’t terrible but I wish they would have been upfront with me and said something to the extent of, “We’re giving you these classes please deal with it.” I expected the change to be honest because of how it was introduced to me so it didn’t bother me too much but I still had to make a lesson that night and make sure that I was ready for my new students.

So far teaching has been going exceptionally well. I’m about 4 weeks into the semester and my students are all pretty invested in English and willing to volunteer most of the time. I’m giving them a lot of encouragement and many of them are really invested in my lessons so I’m very lucky. I know that not all sites are the same and that some of my fellow volunteers are facing circumstances that aren’t nearly as fortunate as mine. With that in mind I also consider the best way to make sure my students are really working on their confidence, English ability, and pushing themselves to be better speakers. The more I push them the better they will be so I always try to push them to do a little more every class. At the end of the year I’m really excited to see their progress both as individuals and as future educators.

-To a great semester ahead filled with memories and fulfilling experiences!

October 4, 2014
After class on Sunday I asked some students what they were doing for dinner after class and they said they were going to the dining hall. I asked if I could join them and they happily obliged. It was nice learning a little bit about the dining halls because I normally cook for myself. It’s not lonely, it’s actually quite relaxing cooking for yourself but it’s also good to talk more with students to understand what their daily life is like and to understand how busy they are with classes. Many of my students have 30 hours of class a week. It’s pretty intense to say the least. I know that I want them to get better at English and get a lot of practice but I also want them to enjoy their lives and the little amount of time that they have to themselves. Many of them don’t sleep much. One girl told me she goes to bed at 1am and wakes up at 7am. I feel that many of my students are stressed out and that they don’t sleep enough but I also know that in my class they’re wonderful and excited to learn. I’m really lucky to have the students that I do.

October 4, 2014

After class on Sunday I asked some students what they were doing for dinner after class and they said they were going to the dining hall. I asked if I could join them and they happily obliged. It was nice learning a little bit about the dining halls because I normally cook for myself. It’s not lonely, it’s actually quite relaxing cooking for yourself but it’s also good to talk more with students to understand what their daily life is like and to understand how busy they are with classes. Many of my students have 30 hours of class a week. It’s pretty intense to say the least. I know that I want them to get better at English and get a lot of practice but I also want them to enjoy their lives and the little amount of time that they have to themselves. Many of them don’t sleep much. One girl told me she goes to bed at 1am and wakes up at 7am. I feel that many of my students are stressed out and that they don’t sleep enough but I also know that in my class they’re wonderful and excited to learn. I’m really lucky to have the students that I do.

October 3, 2014

While I love Chinese food I’m always on the look out for good Korean food because of my affection for it. After spending two years of my life in Korea bibimbap sometimes calls my name and I have no choice but to answer it’s call.

While walking down the winding alleyways and larger open areas of Sunny Block, a shopping area near my apartment, I discovered tucked away inside a little alleyway a nice little Korean restaurant. The menus had Korean and Chinese and the simple setup of the restaurant was easy to appreciate.

By far the best part of the experience was the food though. After ordering and consuming the food I knew that their establishment was going to be my go to Korean place. Whenever I feel the need to indulge in Korean cuisine this will be where I go first.