Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Despite the LARGE class size of my senior 1 students (sophomores) I decided they should experience one of the most important traditions of Thanksgiving--the food! 

On Wednesday/Thursday both of my classes had a small feast--I made stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and mini pumpkin pies. 

I was a lottttt of work--everything was made from scratch. Unfortunately turkeys are very hard to find here (plus there is no way I'd be able to cook one in my little convention oven). 

Most foods here are not cooked with butter, so some of the students found the food way too rich. Some also told me it made them feel like crap afterwards.

Living here has really forced me to reflect on how unhealthy American food is--even though Chinese food is swimming in oil, it consists of mostly vegetables and a little meat (no additives). Most meals include some grain (rice or steamed bread). It's rare to see obese people and I cannot think of an instance that I felt gross or bloated after eating. 

Overall it was kind of nice to spend Thanksgiving cooking and fun to share it with my students...but I really miss my family and friends. 

There are many things I really enjoy about living here--I have a good job where I can really develop and gain experience as a teacher, the students are great (I just wish they would communicate with me more), I am saving so much money, I have had so many opportunities to travel and explore the culture, and have met many new people...

but the biggest thing is the loneliness. Although i distract myself going out with people on the weekends and skyping or face timing it isn't the same. The casual come-and-go relationships will never give me the same feeling or comfort as my family and friends at home.

Thinking about how thankful I am for all of you today--and booking my ticket back to America for my holiday break! 


Friday, November 28, 2014

Street Food Galore

Street Food

If you walk along small road or alleyway (sometimes even busy roads) in China you will find a wide variety of street food. My favorite street food is sweet potatoes or steamed stuffed buns. If you go for a casual walk in the evening here are some of the street food you might find: 

A stand of fermented or pickled vegetables 

Here you pick what vegetables, meat and spices you want stir fried together--quick and convenient


Yup that is a chicken...

Bagged milk

Pancakes (egg and fried bread) 

I think this is tofu--it is cooked in boiling water then the guy adds some spices and sauce to it

The typical seating for street food--really uncomfortable little benches. In China you do not leave tips, so service is not an important part of the dining experience. Also this way people won't sit around for a long time after they eat--they will leave their table to someone else. 

This is an egg pancake with some kind of ham (mystery meat), lettuce and fried bread in it. Some people call this a "burrito" but nothing about it resembles a burrito except the way it looks. 

Chinese BBQ--you pick the skewers you want then they BBQ it and put on some spices (cumin, salt..) that are amazing

A variety of fruit

Here you pick the skewers you want (a variety of vegetables in the back, tofu on the left, and then meat in the front) and then the guy below cuts them and puts them in a bowl with a little bit of flavoring--its kind of like a Chinese salad. 

Besides sweet potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and steamed stuffed buns I'm still a little afraid of trying the other street food. Mainly because of the unsafe food standards and the desire to make a profit 
(there is a common problem with vendors using old food or recycled oil to make more money)

While many people travel by car, many people travel by motorbike or various other kinds of small vehicles. If you're walking around during rush hour you have to be careful because motorbikes share the same space as pedestrians do. 

Also people honk to tell people they are behind them (it's seen as a way of communication) so it is noisy and people honk like crazy. 

Friday, November 7, 2014


Halloween in China! 

As an international program, of course we have to have a Halloween Party. 

This consists of the students dressing up and taking pictures of each other for 2 hours. 

Since we have so many Senior 1 (sophomore students) we made the party in 2 rooms and tried to organize activities. We had a costume "scavenger hunt" the limbo and a wannabe dance party (if only we could have gotten a strobe light...) Chinese students are much more inhibited and don't really just dance--they like choreographed dances. 

Its pretty hard to find costumes here next to the big chain superstores like Tesco, Walmart or Carrefour--most students order them online

The pollution and fog arrives in Jinan for Halloween...spooky

Mall decorations 

My favorite costume 

 This year Halloween seemed to be catching on more than last year. Many people carved pumpkins (although the pumpkins here are not nearly as big as in the US) and there was actually a lot going on in terms of parties on Halloween. There was also a haunted house--but it was through a Japanese company (who apparently have a very erie sense of "scariness") so I passed on that one. 

I had class the period before the party started and had such a hard time keeping their attention--the girls were all putting on fake eyelashes and doing their makeup 

Since they wear uniforms and girls generally do not wear makeup this is their opportunity to pamper themselves and go all out. 

Overall--successful Halloween :D