Illuminations Photography by Amanda Clay

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Alex and Aaron

I got to spend a lovely chilly evening with this warm and welcoming couple. They have been married for 2 years now and both are quite cute and a lot of fun to hang around!

Website:     www.illuminations-photo.com

Email:     illumphoto@gmail.com

‘Til They Come Home…

These are a few photos that I just finished working on from a shoot I did with my cousin Stephanie and her boyfriend Josh who is soon to leave for Afghanistan. My heart goes out to the families of troops and the brave hearts that are fighting for our country.

 

 

Simply Summer

Spend an afternoon with Katie and you’ll find it incredibly easy to appreciate life’s most simple things. I went to her house last night for some homemade chicken noodle soup and tea. I only spent a little time with Katie but every time I’m around her I notice she helps me to appreciate simple and lovely things of life, like herbs, vintage items, pets, and life itself! She let me pick some of the fresh mint from the small garden she has on the balcony and use it for some organic Jasmine tea with sugar and milk and I just thought the colors looked so natural and lovely so I photographed it… and the chicken noodle soup. Thanks for introducing me to many wonderful things Katie! 🙂

 

 

Summer Summer

This week I had the opportunity to go to Heritage Farm Lake in Carthage with a few friends and kids, everyone had a really great time and I enjoyed photographing a precious baby named Isaac. It was his first day at the lake and I think he enjoyed it, he even had enough energy left over when we got back to make some silly faces on the window glass…

and here they come….

Ladies and gentleman… the moment you’ve been waiting for, haha well at least I HOPE you’ve been waiting for! As promised, here are the photos I’ve been talking about for long enough!

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lovin’ languages…

Lately things have been really fun around the category of languages! I have ACTUALLY ENJOYED studying lately. Although on the contrary, just yesterday I felt terrible in the beginning of class because I was asked to write Chinese Characters on the board after my teacher spoke them but I forgot a lot of them 😦 I also noticed during the rest of class I kept getting answers wrong. It all just seemed to be going downhill. During the break of class I literally was on the verge of tears and could barely hold it together. Flavio (my friend from Portugal) talked to me a little bit saying that I had to choose one of two options: either study as hard as I can and press on or just fall back into the next lower class. It was a no brainer, I said it before even thinking about it. I’m gonna study the crap outta these lessons! I really didn’t want to leave the class, just because one day I don’t get it all, I know it’s sometimes overwhelming but I just need to pick myself up, dust off my jeans and get back on the bike… because we can’t give up after one fall right? 😉

Speaking of riding bikes…

In my last post I mentioned that a wonderful girl from Portugal gave me her bike just the day before she went back home. So sweet of her and I have been absolutely loving riding around everywhere and any chance I get I’ll take it just to go somewhere on my bike. I have been taking any chance I can to just ride around and explore new places, it’s so easy and completely safe mom ;). I have been using my good sense of direction to guide me and the wonderful google map on my phone is easy to help me if I start to second guess. It’s a great workout too, I make it a goal to ride somewhere at least 15-20 mins away everyday so I can get a nice exercise. The beautiful scenery and interesting Chinese people are just a plus that comes along with the trip.

 

Lately I have started to miss so many people from back home! Especially when you guys write on my facebook wall! It’s hard sometimes for me to fit in with the foreigners here I think but I just keep telling myself that’s not what I came here for. I have had quite a bit of time to myself lately and so I’ve been alone with my thoughts and study time which is good but after a while it can get a little lonely. I’ve enjoyed it for the most part though, I haven’t ever had this much time alone and it feels good to find out who I am. I really enjoy being alone with my thoughts in my bike rides and parks. I went to Xuan Wu Lake the other day and it’s really beautiful, nice and peaceful too. There’s just something about getting into nature to clear your head and hold on to your emotions. It really helps to find what kind of person you are inside, and in my opinion can really improve on how you treat and act toward people. When you’re around people so much it’s like they can easily rub off on you and if they rub off too much it’s easy to forget who you are.

So I want to thank everyone back home and here in Nanjing that has helped me in ANY way and encouraged me to do my best. You have no idea how weak I would be without you. I miss you all back home very much and I hope you know that SURELY I have appreciate my relationship/friendship with you MUCH MORE. I know this post is short and that I really really need to post some photos and I will very soon, I promise, I’ve just been really really busy.

 

I LOVE YOU ALL…. VERY MUCH!

from my heart, in the heart of Nanjing…

Amanda Clay

crazytown…

So, I haven’t wrote much in a while because things have been getting CRAZY 😛

In school:

Friday:

We’ve been going through the lessons SO FAST! We just finished the last chapter of our book today and start on the new one tomorrow! Ahh! Guess what our new book DOESN’T HAVE…. PINYIN… :O AHHHHH! (Pinyin is the “english” like spelling or pronunciation of the chinese word.) Unless I get studying EVEN HARDER on my characters I won’t be able to read the new book passages too well 😦 don’t worry I’m going to the library most nights to study with my Chinese friend Lynn who has been SO helpful in many ways! I love her.

Monday:

I’ve started the classes where we hardly use pinyin at all now. Sometimes I still have to write it underneath the character to really understand and remember what it is. We’ve gone through the lessons so fast that it’s hard for me to remember how I got here this fast! I slowly began to realize my fast and intense progress in this language. The other night I had dinner with a friend of mine who is also a Chinese teacher, we spoke in Chinese to eachother for at least 45minutes! She’s a listening and speaking teacher so she really helps me with my pronounciation. I just couldn’t believe how much I’d progressed until after that conversation, it’s sometimes like a switch, when you get in the moment of even your thoughts coming to you in Chinese, the flow is much faster and better. I still don’t like that my sentances were as choppy as I hear myself but I know that’s just because it’s the begining and it will get easier. Later that night I was talking to a classmate of mine and I told him, wow… I just can’t believe how fast my progress has been here! Before I came here I barely could carry on a conversation and now I can have an entire dinner with a Chinese and only speak english for the words I don’t know. Also I could barely read characters before I came and struggled very much to even TRY to write them but now I’m reading and writing sentances! Also the other day my dad called me on skype while I was in my room and then I heard a knock at my door, it was a fuwuyuan (hotel worker) asking me about the electricity and water bill. My dad listened to me tell her in Chinese that I didn’t have the paper and my roommate was taking care of it but she wasn’t here at the time so when she comes back I’ll come down with her to take care of it. She left and when I closed my door I heard my dad say that he was impressed with how I could speak Chinese in a conversation. I was happy to make him proud.

Sometimes I think my progress is getting better and faster and it’s really crazy how much I’m learning but when I think about the europeans that I’ve associated with here, most of them can already speak SEVERAL languages. I am struggling with one language and they have already learned a few because they were required to in school. It makes me feel exactly the same way as my instructor John, that Americans are so lazy with languages, we aren’t even required to be fluent in the language of the country that’s right next to us… this is complete opposite of Europe. However, it’s not so bad that we haven’t learned several languages because English is becoming more and more universal as time goes on. There are so many countries that use english as a back up communication if they can’t understand each other, and sometimes that feels good to know that my mother language is universal.

My health…

Well I hate to say it but my health hasn’t been too good lately… I’ve been stressing over some little things that had been building and I let it all get to me, so therefore, I’ve gone through some stomach pains and aches and now I have a little of what seems like allergies. I’ve been taking the right medication and drinking LOTS of water since there is so much free boiled water all over campus. Drinking that really does make me feel much healthier and I have much more energy on the days I don’t even feel so well. I can see myself using the free boiled water VERY MUCH for the cold winter days!

Traveling

Recently I went to Shanghai for a few days to see the expo for one day and stay with my wonderful Chinese sister Sherill. I love her dearly like a sister and I hope that I can show the same gratitude that she has shown me someday when she comes to America. When she does I hope you get to meet her! She’s so wonderful! The day I went to the expo was actually perfect! It was a beautiful not too cold and not too hot day! There were quite many people but I was glad I wasn’t there the next day… a friend told me the record was broken 1 MILLION people were there the next day! :O WOAH! I got LOTS of cool pictures of the pavilions and some cool videos of performances and such! I really had a great day at the expo and I got to see quite much in one day… 12 PAVILIONS! (including: Vietnam, N. Korea, New Zealand, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Philippines, Portugal, Norway, Mexico, Ireland, America… of course and The Caribbean)

I’ll do a separate blog of the photos from the expo soon, There are too many and I must choose the best ones 🙂

Also in traveling it’s had to stay pretty cheap lately so both trains to and from Shanghai cost around 52.00kuai (about 7.80 US dollars) not bad for 3-4 hour train travel! The only not-so-fun part was the train ride back, there were many trains coming back to Nanjing so I had to get the best I could with the lowest price, so I had to buy a “standing ticket” Usually if the train is very fill then they will just sell standing tickets so you can still ride the train but you must stand. Luckily I had my small suitcase that sometimes I could sit on and after a few stops I managed to find a clear spot on the carpet to sit. Four hours is a little long from Shanghai to Nanjing but it was all in good favor because I made another Chinese friend who lives in a nearby city that said she’d like to show me around and stuff 🙂

The silver lining…

The weather in Nanjing has been very nice recently, not very cold and not very hot, sometimes the smog is annoying and you don’t get to see the sun so much but apart from that it’s actually quite nice. The nights are good also, it’s somewhat relaxing to be able to just walk around campus or stroll down the street a little with some friends. Walking and listening to music seems to be quite a popular thing to do on campus and I’ve found it really fun and energizing.

The other day… Halloween actually, I had a crazy gloomy day. I was just not feeling the Chinese thing, I didn’t even really want to study or listen to Chinese, much less speak it. I pressed on and got some studying done. Later that day I went with my Portuguese friend Flavio to meet some of his friends. I met this cool girl that was one of his friends and she was just working in Nanjing for a few months. We struck up a cool friendship fast! She also enjoys photography and we had fun talking about anything and everything. I hated that she was leaving the next day to go back to Portugal because she was cool and I think it would have been fun to hang out with her and go take photos with her. Just before she left she said this to me: “I want to give you my bike” I think I did a double take… I said: “什么?!”  “Shenme?!” haha in Chinese means “what?!”  She really wanted to get rid of her bike because she no longer had a use for it, and our friend Flavio already had one so she didn’t know who else to give it to. SO SHE GAVE IT TO ME!!! HAHA YAY!! I wanted to buy one but didn’t know if I’d use it all the time, turns out I DO! I LOVE RIDING AROUND! Any excuse I get I’ll do it! TRY ME!

Gettin’ the show on the road…

Lately I’ve been contacting some models and make up artists in hopes to get my photography ball rolling. Many people have told me to go to Suzhou (a neighboring city to Nanjing) because they say it’s really beautiful and great for shooting. I also would like to visit some other places that are relatively near to do some shoots. I really wanted to shoot in Shanghai but I was just so busy and visiting with my friend before she left to France to three years so that didn’t work out too well. 😦 I’m picking myself back up though, I’m really excited about the people and beautiful places I have here to work with!

I’ve also been wanting to photograph some local art like Chinese painting and “Shu fa” which is Chinese calligraphy. There is actually a class that is on Monday afternoons that I can take for free to learn some Chinese calligraphy, I really think it’s beautiful and started learning a little bit of it before I left USA. I also found a studio where Chinese students study “Shu Fa” and I really want to go back there and photograph them working on their calligraphy. I think that and chinese paintings are some of the most beautiful art I’ve ever seen.


The adventures to come:

I’m really excited about the big adventure to come, where it all started for me. The upcoming trip with my instructor John Rash. We had so much fun and learned so much last year.. it was the trip we took last year that encouraged me to come here and learn Chinese. We’re going to be in Guilin first, and from what I’ve seen and heard it’s one of the most beautiful cities in all of China. I’m so excited because some good friends and my mom is coming and I can’t wait to share all of the fun of Nanjing when they stop by my town. 🙂

Even though it’s the first time I’ve traveled alone and it’s the longest time I’ve traveled at all, I really like it. I don’t know how I’d feel about living here forever but I certainly want to travel more and to different places. I like the diverse cultural atmosphere Nanjing has and I love the traditional influence China has on it’s former capitol. I really love it here and hope that more interesting moments come soon so I can share some wonderful things with you as I experience the differences and similarities across the world.

生活更丰富 (sheng huo geng feng fu) “Life more abundant”

with love from China,

Amanda


The NORMAL one…

(I’m a student at Nanjing Normal University, right near Nanjing University, but I like The NORMAL one better. 🙂 Normal is “Shi Fan” in Chinese: 师范 and it means “teaching” University so… “Nanjing Normal University is: 南京师范大学

It’s been a while since I’ve written but a lot has been going on. I often find it hard to make time to write but it’s not because I don’t have time but simply that there’s almost always something to do different everyday and it’s hard to write everything all down. Also I’ve had a lot of class lately so I’ve been studying, but I have a week break starting Friday so that’s going to be fun!

Speaking of school…

We just had a three day holiday last week and well of course we had to make up the days we missed by coming to school on Saturday and Sunday. (I don’t enjoy it at all because I get my days mixed up) Also we have class this week so we don’t get a break until Friday, but after Friday we have a whole week off… WOO HOO! (Don’t get me wrong I love school and studying but it’s cool to have more time to explore China!)

For the past two days we’ve had two different substitute teachers and they’re much different than our regular “Zhang Laoshi” (Professor Zhang). It’s hard for them to just come into our lessons and know exactly where we are as a class. I also noticed that I’m not the only one that’s bothered by how fast the substitutes go through everything and they don’t make us do stuff together as a class like our regular instructors.

Working out…

The second week here my roommate and friends convinced me to buy a gym card and so we have been going to the gym together quite often. The buddy system works REALLY well, because when you don’t feel like going the other encourages you, and when you don’t want to go alone you can encourage the other to come. The first time was rough for me because I tried to do the “spinning” (stationary bike) class with my friends and I could not even keep up for half the class. It’s very fast paced and a HARD lower body workout. I wondered during the class why it was so hard for me to keep up with and why did my legs feel like they were going to fall off? Then I realized that everyone in the room was already accustomed to riding a bike… EXCEPT me. I could barely walk when I got off the bike and for DAYS my legs were so sore, I tried to stretch more and work out my muscles in yoga class for the two days after but the only relief I found was just taking it easy and starting over with baby steps. This week I have been to the gym almost everyday and yoga and dancing classes have been good for my baby steps in the beginning of my “getting in shape” plan. Every once in a while like last night I’ll go for about 5-10 minutes into the spinning class but I am taking that really slow.  The gym also has good equipment so it’s great to get on the treadmill just before going to dance classes.

I really like yoga because of these three great benefits from it:

1) It’s good stretching, lengthening and strengthening for the body (especially before or after a workout)

2) The relaxation it involves is long term, I often feel very good and physically relaxed after class.

3) The positions and relaxation exercises make it kind of like a good muscle massage.

There are so many more great benefits but those are my favorite.

Food and dieting…

The food is so good here… I love it. Just about everything is made fresh and cooked just before you eat it. Vegetables and meat are plenty and a lot of the small restaurants are great “fast food” because they can cook fast (or it’s already just made) for you if you’re on the go. The Chinese are accustomed to eating really fast and then leaving right after a meal, that’s taking some time for me to get used to because I want to eat slower so that I’ll get full faster, and then let my stomach settle before I start off again. The Chinese food is also ALWAYS really hot! I’ve burned my tongue a few times already by just forgetting that when you get your food… it’s not going to be warm or cool at all. I think the reason why they eat so fast is that when it gets cold it’s not as delicious, the same I guess for any dish on earth.  There are many different Chinese spices too, I don’t like to eat them so much though because I easily get heart burn so I try the spices in moderation but in China there’s always the spicy pepper condiment on the table when you feel it’s not hot enough. Fruits are CHEAP, delicious, and everywhere, making it easy to stay within your food pyramid. There are also lots of tasty snacks around sold cheap too, great for now on the go or later when you have a break in class.

Water… bottled water is so cheap so keeping yourself hydrated comes at a small price of around $0.25 cents a bottle (USD) Running on the go to the gym I made the mistake of filling up my water bottle 1/2 way with the water from my sink, because I was just used to doing so back home. BAD IDEA! I was sick for at least 24 hours with stomach pains and the day after too! It took a while for me to figure out what it came from but when I realized it made me feel like I had drank the dirty water from the streets that splashes up on your feet when you stomp on a loose sidewalk tile! 😦

Weather the weather….

The mid autumn day felt like the Chinese were controlling the weather! They were to celebrate the middle of autumn when the two days before it felt like mid summer! I didn’t understand until the exact morning of “mid autumn day” I thought “If the past two days have been so hot then what is their mid autumn like?” They hit the nail on the head! Mid autumn day was like the EXACT middle of autumn, not too cold, not too warm, just right. It was just cool enough to wear a light jacket and the light rain made the day even cooler. It was funny to see some people (mostly Chinese) wearing clothes like winter had just started. My friend and I said together: “It’s cold but it’s not THAT cold.” I even saw some foreigners dressed like they were ready for a cold winter mountain hike haha.

GOOD times…

Lately my friends and I have been wanting to see what’s around here to do and see. I went with a Chinese friend to a cool place like “Jin Ming Timple” that’s relatively close and a pretty cool and tall timple that you can go up to the top in. I have some wonderful photos from that to show. Of course as girls always do we also went shopping, got a haircut, and had massages! Girls day is our favorite day now haha, who wouldn’t love just having a day of just relaxing and getting a massage for less than $10 (US dollars!) and a hair cut AND STYLED for less than $5 (US dollars!). The only thing we wanted to do after that was just hang out in a really cool coffee shop that I’m going to take photos of soon, I really like it there.

The massage:

My friend Meg, back home who studied massage and had her own business told me to get what was called a “Tui Na” massage. I didn’t even have to ask for it! My Chinese friend just took us to the right parlor where BLIND people (so cool) gave “Tui Na” massages! They worked on us like they knew exactly what they were doing, and they did! It was like they could see with their hands, as usually most blind can, but this was so cool. They could feel the problem places and know exactly how to work them out! It was sooooo awesome! At first some places would be a little painful because of the tension in it but after it was worked through a few times, it was very comforting and soothing! Just like you see it in the movies with the chopping motion…. yep, that’s what I had! It wasn’t all pain and hard crazy stuff like the movies exaggerate but it was really cool!

The haircut:

I knew this was going to be interesting, I thought “Oh they aren’t going to know what to do with my hair because everyone in china has straight hair!” It actually went really well! They washed my hair and gave a massage, then I had a very nice Chinese stylist and he was my age. I had my Chinese friend tell him what I wanted and he was very precise! He even straightened it for no extra cost just because he thought it looked better! SWEET!

Everyday is my birthday IN CHINA….

By the third week after coming here I had already been to a fancy birthday party! My friend Zhang Xu invited me to come to her family’s celebration of her brother-in-law’s 29th birthday. I found it fascinating how the Chinese celebrate birthdays with family. We first started off with cake and sang: “祝你生日快乐!” (zhu ni sheng ri kuai le) Happy Birthday. Then we had an excellent and very exquisite dinner! There were so many beautiful dishes I almost couldn’t keep up with photos as they brought them out. The last dish we had was a special fish local to Nanjing that was poisonous to begin with bu the chef used a special way to cook out the in-toxins. It was nothing like I imagined, it looked like catfish and when I would eat the meat it was similar to catfish but for some reason I couldn’t get it down to a pulp, it was quite chewy. Then they told me that the skin was good for your stomach so I was like well I need to eat as much of that as I can because of how the water from my sink made my stomach bad. So I took a bite of the skin and it reminded me of the texture of a cat’s tongue… looking back down now at my plate with the fish (fins head and all) swimming in this strange gravy sauce with the cat tongue texture in my mouth… I considered it to be my last bite haha. The birthday dinner continued with many many toasts (possibly even in 5 min intervals) I noticed how the Chinese love to toast and they will do it every chance they get! My friend told me that it was a custom to toast the person that toasted you (which made sense as to why the toasting went on for so long) so I toasted the family because they welcomed me several times… I had my friend translate: “To life, love, family, and friends” Then I lost count of how many toasts there were.

Another night I got to experience another birthday celebration! I stopped into a bakery/milk tea shop after visiting with a friend and I saw a small group of people celebrating a birthday. They had this really cool lotus flower candle that en-flamed like a firework after being lit and then opened like a flower blooming in the spring. SO COOL! I thought as I watched, after ordering my milk tea I left and as I was leaving I heard a person behind me saying: “A! NI HAO NI HAO!!” I turned around and there was a fuyuan (that’s chinese for wait-staff) holding a piece of cake with outstretched arms to give it to me. She said: “gei ni” (give you) I said “zhende me?” (really?) “weishen me?” (why?)  She said “yeah, they gave it to me and I didn’t want it so I give it to you.” I was astonished! I thought oh wow how sweet, I just replied okay wow thank you! Then I walked home to my room that night thinking, how wonderfully weird this place is.

Here and there..

It’s easy to have mixed feelings about being here because China and America both have really cool and really not-so-cool things. I love the free time and fun things to do here, but I miss the people back home. I love my friends here, but I miss my family and wish I could share it all with them. I like the scenery of beautiful gardens and fun places, but I miss the cleanliness of home. I like the convenience of transportation but sometimes I miss driving in my car with my music loud. I love the people here but I miss being able to order or talk to someone and them completely understanding haha. I love how things are so cheap here but I miss the good American quality…

it pretty much just evens out to make me wonder if my time here is too short or will I just be ready to leave when the time comes…

The Chinese version of “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there” :

“船到桥门自会值“ ”Chuan dao qiao men, zi hui zhi” (When the ship arrives at the bridge, we can deal with the problem.)

(Photos on Flickr HERE and more coming on this blog soon!)

With love from China,

Amanda

Sink or Swim

Sink or Swim..

Practice Practice Practice…

I think I’m in over my head, should I change classes? There’s an almost shaming sense I feel today being in class, I feel I should have studied more, I should have been practicing everyday but I feel like if I did I would need start at the beginning again. The most trouble I’ve been having is reading and writing. I have almost no characters memorized in my head, knowing how to completely write them without looking at the character. I have only had one year of studying Chinese (and not even a whole year at that) and most of what I know is either heard or spoken, I mostly studied pinyin when I should have studied characters more. How did I test into this class? There were several times my teacher called on me to read aloud and write chinese but I felt like I could stare at the characters all day and still have no clue how to say it or what they mean… I felt so stupid and unprepared. I kept thinking about the class and the upcoming tests, what will I do about them, surely they will be written in Chinese, and surely it will be required for us to write Chinese, and SURELY I will fail. I kept thinking to myself… is there a way I can still get out and go to the next class below? Then I thought, well would it be better to be into a class where I know most of the material and could probably ace the test, or should I stay and at least try to accept the challenge of learning new things and studying even harder than I usually do? I was stumped. During a break in our class, my teacher also noticed some of the students in front of me needed some help and while she was talking to them I overheard her saying something about the class under us. I got curious and I asked her…. do you think since I am having such trouble with characters that I need to go to the lower class? She looked at my notebook for a minute and said: “No, your characters are beautiful, but I see that you were normally taught chinese pinyin (the english/phonetic spelling of the Chinese word) and I agreed. I told her that it took me so long to write characters and that I can’t read them well. She just turned to a page in my book where we have to practice writing them and she said: “I just think you need to practice them more because if you went to the lower class you would just be studying more pinyin.” She showed me in the textbook where the lower class was and I noticed that they were doing all the really simple things like basic understandings of the pinyin. I really didn’t want to do that all over again but I wanted to start learning characters from the beginning. (which I should have done more while I was studying back home.) My teacher finished the conversation and then moved to some other students as I sat there and pondered…. “Will I be lost if I stay? Will I fail the tests and let my family and friends down? Should I just go to the other class anyway and just start off slow? That’s so boring, even if it was just for the characters.” Just as I finished my thought a classmate came over to my desk and mentioned that he also had trouble learning characters and the way he had learned and got better was just as the teacher showed me. To practice them. How about that? I guess if you practice something enough you’ll be able to do it huh? Haha. He told me that in the bookstores they sell really cheap “hanzi shu” Character Books that you can just write in these little boxes and just practice writing characters. I told him that I had seen them because my instructor who was here before me showed me them and told me to get them. So then I decided hey… I CAN do this, I will just put in more hours of studying than I do when I am studying Chinese in NC. It’s much easier here to practice too, when you live in the country that you’re learning the language of it makes things much easier to study. You can find the characters written around after you’ve studied them and it’s definitely great that you can APPLY the spoken word and practice it with your Chinese friends and on the streets meeting people.

So over the weekend my friend Line (sounded like “Lina”) from Belgium and I went shopping on Saturday. It was quite fun, we bought some cute things for pretty cheap (of course) and it was cool to see a huge shopping mall where the Chinese can find their favorite European and American brands (but not as cheap as the country you can get them in of course.) My friend Line and I really like that they have an H&M store here in Nanjing because we aren’t as small as the Chinese girls and we are western girls so of course we are a bit more busty than Asian girls, so it’s hard to find cute stuff in our size with the Chinese brand. Line and I shopped around for a few hours and then we came back to our dorm to… yes… I’m going to write it.. STUDY!! WHAT?! On a Saturday?! You’re crazy! Yes I am, but I’m also in a country where I can’t read and write the language well so I want to study more for myself to be able to apply it more. 🙂 We studied together for a bit and then I went to a party that a new friend of mine was having. There were some really interesting people there, mostly students who were foreigners and some chinese. It was cool to meet some people from my country and some people who were from places like Bulgaria and Russia. I like the diversity here, you can really meet so many people from different countries and cultures!

On Sunday Line and I wanted to take it slow and find some more time to study. YES, STUDY. We went to a relatively close park (one that we could even walk to) and we entered in with no idea as to what it would look like. It seemed really quiet and nice! It was a lot of walking but we wanted to see the “orchid garden” that was written on the “sights” sign. We walked and walked and walked some more all the while seeing some cool things like this blue lantern like thing hanging in the trees I noticed it was moving. The trees were really close by the road so I just went to the edge to see what it was…. as I got closer and closer I could hear this beautiful song louder and louder…. it was a songbird! They have them in cages in the gardens here! Wow, how interesting! Why would they cage them I wondered? The birds didn’t seem distressed, they kept singing beautiful songs. Maybe they keep them there for the songs, they sound very beautiful and sweet. I had to take a photo because it was so neat!

Line and I finally found the road to the “Orchid Garden” wend down it and saw just a strange stone sitting area. We explored that and had a short Sunday afternoon picnic, some fruits and nuts and we were good to walk another hundred miles haha. We saw some steps and a greenhouse like area so I thought oh that must be the orchid garden. We went down the really long set of steps (a good workout we kept saying) and looked inside it. The house seemed to be a greenhouse but.. hmmmm.. no orchids. So we looked around further and further at different gardens down this road but… well… no orchids. I was kind of disappointed because I LOVE orchids and really wanted to photograph some. We found a place where there was a small pond with beautiful lovely bright orange, black spotted, and white coy… that was fun too! I love coy fish. We never found the “Orchid Garden” but we still had so much fun! Also walking up and down several hills (it was like a tiny mountainous garden with the city in the back ground) and stairs we were almost exhausted. We still had a great time and got some cool photos of the place along with photos of my friend Line. We then went back to our dorms to study some more before the weekend was over, my roommate also had some adventures this weekend with her boyfriend traveling to Shanghai to see the EXPO so she came back Sunday night telling us of all her adventures.

Here is what we found:

I love living here, it’s easy to call home because just like America, there are some tough times and some great times and all that’s in between. There’s great people to meet, wonderful things to experience, and friendships to make that you will never forget..

with love from China,
Amanda

The Shanghai Panoramics!

I know that in my first story I mentioned TWO panoramics that I did a little bit of the somewhat outer city of Shanghai. Well look no further because here they are. The first one “Shanghai Night” (not really night) I did when I woke up about 4am (because I wasn’t yet adjusted to the 12 hour time change) and the later one I did at about 6:30-7:00am. The sun rises really early here because they don’t have daylight savings AND China is one whole time zone, enough chit chat… take a look and tell me what you think….

Click on the photo to see a larger version.

Shot with Nikon D90 18-55 Nikon DX lens

TOP: Shanghai Night BOTTOM: Shanghai Day

Shanghai Night and Day