(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.
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.
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.
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!
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,