Saturday, November 30, 2013

China's Changing; policies, future wars, and tensions with the US

2 weeks ago Chinese officials met in Beijing at a summit (called the Third Plenum) where they decided on future plans for the country.

Here's a link to the outcomes of the summit...

Notably the one child policy is loosening up a bit--of my students of 55 students only about 5 of them have another sibling.

Here's a quick summary:

America loves to get involved with other countries' issues

Another lovely thing in the news...most of you probably aren't aware of the islands that both China and Japan claim as theirs; the Daioyu Islands (halfway between Japan and Taiwan)

China put a "no fly zone" over the islands on Saturday and I guess on Tuesday the US flew through the no fly zone just to prove they would not follow the no fly zone. 

Many of my students in the past have asked me what I think about the island tensions. According to a treaty following WWII, America must defend Japan if anything happens to the island.

Biden will be in China next week to discuss this issue so we will see how it plays out 

this article provides more detail:

South Korea, Taiwan, and Tibet all have border disputes with China as well--when I was looking through my students Modern World history books (made in America), Taiwan was colored a different color than China (meaning that it was a separate country than China) in every single book on any world map, Taiwan was blacked out with a sharpie marker. 

I found this article very interesting about China's future wars (someone trying to predict the future) 

It predicts that a war between Japan and China would not play out until 2040--I would argue that it would happen a lot sooner than that. 

I think many Americans are not educated at all about China and what is going on in China. 

I think China's quick development and the way that the Government works to effectively manage 3 billion people is pretty fascinating. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Charity Concert & Thanksgiving 2 in China

This has been a LONG, exhausting, STRESSFUL, sleepless week.

Still there was some big events this week to look forward to! One of the student clubs put on a concert and of course Thanksgiving (no days off in China)

The Charity concert was Wednesday during the last period; some of the senior students organized it for the volunteering club (Angel Club). They had a bunch of students sing and the foreign teachers too--With no musical talents I just sang with everyone at the end. Its amazing to see how talented these kids are--there was an A cappella group, some duets, a foreign teacher sang in French and Chinese- very entertaining, and the best act--one of the kids rapped "We Own it"

Two of my students

A Cappella-- The kid on the far right was beat boxing

Hilarious--this kid rapped "We Own It" from Fast & Furious--2 Chainz

Someone like you

Some of the foreign teachers--Take Me Home Country Roads (all Chinese people know this song)

The last song--two of my very talented students!

I have videos of all the songs--hopefully I can figure out how to put them up

It was interesting to see some of my students wearing normal clothes--its crazy in America how much easier it is to get a feeling for each students personality by the way they dress--here all students wear uniforms

Well my Thanksgiving last year was quite a bit different than last year...

Last year a big group of friends went out to an all you can eat Japanese Tapenaki...a lot of food, a lot of alcohol, and a lot of friends.

This year I was extremely busy and had a lot of other things going on...but all in all it was a good day. On Thursday/Fridays I see each of my class for two class periods; one on Thursday and one on Friday.

So we had a Thanksgiving Party. I made them some "traditional" Thanksgiving dishes (I told them I might do this a few weeks before and they did not let me forget...I don't think it will ever happen again)

Thank goodness you cannot find Turkeys in Jinan because I don't thnk i would have been able to cook a Turkey correctly...on the menu was stuffing, sweet potato casserole, deviled eggs, pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes.

I didn't really think that this was too much to take on...I was wrong. Mashed potatoes did not make it to the party.

In America everything is SO much simpler when it comes to cooking, here I had to hand-make everything, chop everything myself (no pampered chef tools), and then wash all the dishes by hand (since we don't have dishwashers)

A little chaotic...

What I learned:

I now know how to make stuffing and pumpkin pie from scratch

I also know where every supermarket in the area is located and what products they have

Cupcake tins are $30 at the imported store

Toaster ovens are a pain in the ass to cook with

Without family and other people helping, it takes FOR EV ER to cook all these dishes--

Also the kids LOVED stuffing (which I personally think is gross) and did not really prefer sweet potato casserole or pumpkin pie because it was too sweet and creamy

Naturally after we talked about Thanksgiving, ate, and said what we were thankful for I taught them how to play football. I gave them a list of vocabulary words and tried to define them.

I had students come up and be the "offense" to show them how to score points and how to get a "First down" then I used video clips to show them--they really enjoyed the clips of fat defensive linemen's intercepting the ball and running it and guys fumbling the ball. Overall I think it was a good way to end the week :) Once my kids post some pictures ill steal them and put them on here

We went outside to pass the ball afterwards--I let them run out a play--they picked boys verses girls really quickly--where each team scored a touchdown--this made me extremely nervous--luckily there were no injuries

And much as I conveyed to my students how ridiculous Black Friday was and how it is ruining the values of Thanksgiving and American people...I participated in some online black friday deals today. I miss shopping in America! 

Ohio State verses Michigan tonight at midnight! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Black Brownies :/

Any guesses what this is? It was in the meat section...I stared at it so long the lady at the supermarket was putting some in a bag for me. It was called "Pig Jelly" Yummmmm

Well today I decided it was time to buy an oven. On Thursday/Friday I told my students we could have a Thanksgiving Party and there are so many things I need it for--plus what girl doesn't love cooking?

I decided to test it out tonight before I use it the next few days to bake food for my students.

My mom sent me some cookies/brownie mixes from home so I whipped up some brownies (a little difficult without western measuring cups), I preheated my oven (the oven only went up to 250 and I had to preheat it to 325 degrees--which made me a little disappointed because I bought the nicest, most expensive oven)

After about 10 minutes it smelled like something was burning and there was smoke EVERYWHERE. How can that be possible? The brownies are supposed to bake for 40 minutes and the temperature wasn't even high enough. 

Oops. I forgot to make the conversion between Fahrenheit and Celsius. Black brownies anyone ;)

I also discovered there is no way my apartment has a fire alarm.

In other news I decorated my house tonight...either Jinan is not very festive or the Christmas decorations are still to come...but i got excited when I saw some gingerbread houses while out shopping

Friday, November 22, 2013

Jetsetting to Beijing

If you read my last post, my friend from Shenzhen came up to Jinan--she had vacation from work and wanted to see more of China. Last Friday we left for Beijing (about 1.5 hours on the fast train). Once again we didn't get our train tickets early enough in advance so we had to get a 1st class ticket (which was only about $20 more than a business class seat so it wasn't too bad) 

We got into Beijing pretty late and found our hostel by metro (the train station there links right to the metro which is really convenient. I really miss the metro--in Jinan i walk or take buses everywhere)

Our hostel was FULL of foreigners just hanging out in the main room--it was nice to be surrounded by so many people who could speak English again. A large group of them were from Europe

On a completely irrelevant note last weekend I noticed for the first time how unattractive I find European guys (English guys are an exception--cant resist a British accent) I also think that since I've moved to a different city in China where Chinese guys are taller and more manly looking I find Chinese guys a lot more attractive than before. (Or maybe I've just been in China too long ;)

We decided to do a tour to the Great Wall (I absolutely hate tour groups but was too lazy to figure out how to get there on our own) so we got breakfast with our tour group then boarded a bus for a 2 hour ride out to the wall. 

We went to the Mutianyu section, which was the same one I went to last April

This time we took the chairlift up--(last time we took the stairs up and it was HELL)

It was GORGEOUS--perfect weather! 

We decided to go see the unrestored part of the wall--the stairs were so steep

:) :) 

An unrestored section of the wall

People were standing near the ledge (which dropped right off into the mountains) and taking pictures

It was super windy and I'm terrified of heights--so I didn't get a picture near the ledge but still had to take one up there 

The American Girl Place in Chicago has nothing on a Barbie party on the Great Wall
I wish I had a daughter so I could take her to this!

We took the toboggan down-

Next we went to Wanfujing, a famous market/shopping street and HAD to do some shopping (I'm a little deprived in Jinan) 

Then we checked out the big street food section--this guy was eating a fried tarantula 

After we were so exhausted we just relaxed at our hostel

The next morning i checked out the CCTV building. It was named "Best Tall Building Worldwide" Some people call it the "Big Underpants" building--I have no idea why, the best idea i could think of is that it looks like legs...or a pair of boxers? Or maybe it loses its meaning in translation between chinese and english? Ha if anyone knows why its called this let me know!

And then I went to a market street that my friend told me about--it was a little more classy than a normal street market but it was in a historic hutong (an alleyway or narrow street where people used to live)

I LOVE the street markets. Theres so much junk and fake things to look at. Im going to miss this probably the most when I go back to America. 

I had to buy one of these! Shout out to Chi Omega :) 

Some Chinese people had me take a picture with this Obama shirt

And then I met my friend at the Temple of Heaven--It was used during the Ming and Qing dynasties to pray to the heavens for a good harvest. It's regarded as a Taoist temple

In China earth is represented by a square and heaven by a circle so each of the main constructions (theres 3) are on a  squares yard and the main temples are circles. 

It was constructed by the same Emperor who constructed the Forbidden City so it looks very similar

This is the Hall Prayer for Good Harvests

This is the Imperial Vault of Heaven

This is what the inside looked like--i could sit and stare at all the detailing on the architecture of these temples forever--they are absolutely GORGEOUS

 The entrance to the circular mound altar. After 3 flights of stairs there is a small circle platform called the Heart of Heaven

There were too many people to get a pic of the small mound at the top but you can see the three flight of stairs

Its crazy that China has so many temples and places of worship yet the majority of people do not practice or identify with a religion--they just value the philosophies and ideas that come from Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism (of course thats just my perception--i haven't really talked to many chinese people about this or done any research)

After so much sightseeing we were exhaused--we headed back to the hostel and got ready to head back home. 

As for Beijing--I'm not really sure what i think about the city. The city really hasn't left an impression on me.  Basically when I left Shanghai I was already planning my next trip back. When I left Beijing I was excited to get home. I think it's a place that you should see because of its historical relevance to China and its development//government but past that the crowds and pollution make it a little overwhelming and unappealing. 

The train station! Back to Jinan.