Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Spring at Shandong Experimental High School

It's been a busy Spring! Our students at the experimental school have been extremely busy--our Junior students will go to Hong Kong this weekend to take the SAT (it is not offered in mainland China) and then they have AP tests almost everyday over the next two weeks. Although after AP tests their schedules will lighten up immediately. After AP tests are done, classes are finished here. 

This picture was taken at 8:00pm on a Friday night. After school, the students in the regular school stay after to study (woof). 

My Senior 1's (sophomores) have their TOEFL test which measures their English ability (they are focused on memorizing words) and an AP Physics exam. SO much pressure is put on the tests it is insane. 

Despite their hectic schedules they have had some extra activities the past few weeks. 

All students participated in the Science Fair--some had very original projects which was neat. This one tested if music had any influence on a plant's growth. 

The Sophomores also had a dance competition with all the other Sophomore classes (I think there are 22 all together) They go all out for this stuff--it was fun to watch/see them out of the classroom. 

Now that it is nice out, the guys play basketball everyday at lunch. The Juniors challenged the teachers to play. We have two classes of Juniors--the first class (23) lost to the teachers. The second class (24) was VERY physical--the teachers lost but the ref (a fellow teacher) was awful...so it was an unfair game.

The students need to learn a thing or two about sportsmanship. A few of the students would be great actors 

Terrible call by the ref

We gave the ref a hard time

The Junior class wanted to have another game against the teachers but after the poor sportsmanship, some of the teachers refused to play, so we organized a 3 v 3 tournament. 

We didn't seed the teams so all of the best games took place the first round (whoops) 

Aside from basketball, life has been pretty good. I'm counting down the days until I go home, but I know I'm going to really miss a lot of the experiences, people and food in China. 

For example last week I got out of my last period class to find this lovely notice. Everything in China is at the last minute--winging it and being flexible is taken to a whole new level. 

I had planned on showing a movie so instead of preparing something else, I decided to just give my kids a free period. Sitting in the dark all day was torture...no wifi, no way to charge my appliances, no lights...

Last week I got into work at 8 AM--it looked like my coworker (the fellow English teacher) was having a pre-class party--not something you would see often in good old America. 

Some students brought a coworker a cake for his bday

And the best thing about basketball playoffs is that all the games are on in the morning here--perfect to keep me busy in the mornings while I "work". 

Spotted: Easter Egg decorations at the mall

My favorite building in Jinan.

Last week some students from America (Connecticut) came to see our school, observe our classes, and interact with the students. They joined our debate club. 

This is at a popular western restaurant in the area. Western food is dramatically more expensive than Chinese food, so I rarely go out for Western food (I mostly just cook at home or eat Chinese food).

 I ordered a salad with grilled chicken, which was 3x's the amount of a typical Chinese meal. Do you see any chicken?


Out and about in Jinan: last weekend a friend had a birthday party at a local bar. Highlight of the night: a magician was doing tricks. 

Another thing that I will miss about China is hot pot. Last week was probably my last hot pot dinner! Hot pot is one of my favorite Chinese meals--especially during the cold weather. Now that it is warm out its hard to find people to go with me. Last week I rounded up a few coworkers and we had a huge (and way too spicy)dinner. 

Another food that I love is bao zi (steamed stuffed buns). Yesterday at work a coworker surprised me with some bao zi from this famous bao zi restaurant near our school. 

I was very close to buying those steamers so I could attempt to make bao zi on my own. Goal for my next month and a half: learn to make bao zi!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Pictures from Last Week

One thing I love about living in a place that is so drastically different than America is the strange and unusual things that I observe or see on a daily basis. It keeps my daily life interesting...that's for sure.

Here are some pictures from the last few weeks:

This is a "whole chicken dinner" at a place we call "the Homey place"--the whole chicken is cut into pieces and stir fried in a really good sauce and served with biscuits. The head and feet are considered delicacies...eat with caution!

The beer makes the pointless meeting a little more worthwhile... ;) 

We have to be in the office all day (8-5:30 with a 2 hour lunch break) even though we only teach 2-4 classes a day. Naps in the office are pretty common. 

"The Popcorn Place" free watermelon & popcorn. Chinese people regard their hands as dirty so they never really touch food with their hands

Guys here are extremely "chivalrous"--carrying purses, sitting while their women shop, pushing their women around in carts...

In America we might call them "whipped" although I think the sense of ownership is pretty important in a relationship.

The recycling guy. People drive around in these carts and collect recycling--it doesn't appear to be systematic and organized as it is in America. 

Offensive bumper stickers that aren't offensive when in a different language.

A violin show at the mall. In typical Chinese fashion, it isn't about talent but about the flashy dancing and outfits that the girls are wearing. 

Many people get around by motorbike, so now that it's warmer there are motorbikes everywhere. This is why walking on the street/sidewalk can be dangerous. When the bikes honk at you from behind you don't know which side of the road to move to since there is no order in walking/riding on the sidewalk

(in the US if we are moving one way we walk on the right--just like the cars on the road). 

Seasonal ice cream at McD's--Black Sesame (tastes nutty--a little like peanut butter ice cream)

Yellow Watermelon

I had the students fill out March Madness brackets for fun--since college bball doesn't show on TV here the kids did not have much interest (even though they will be attending American universities in the future!) Some of them did it but had no idea what it was for. 

The tallest building in Jinan--still under construction--lights up every night with flashy displays. 
(not a waste of energy at all...)

The other day I was walking around a crowded street during lunch break. This man was trying to sell this turtle (tortoise)? 

No one was interested...on to the next location. 

More animals for sale on the side of the road--hermit crabs, snakes and lizards. 

hampsters and rabbits

Poor things :( 

Casual Thursday afternoon dress. 

Prostitute? Store clerk? Teacher? Trophy Wife? 

Strange, unusual toys at the supermarket

An alternative to a motorbike--the three wheel mini car

At night restaurants will put out chairs and tables on the sidewalk/street for people to enjoy dinner. Clearly comfort is not a priority. 

The matching outfit--Chinese people love to match with their significant other/family

The Air Quality in Beijing is MUCH better--but who knows if it is actually accurate!