Illuminations Photography by Amanda Clay

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The NORMAL one…

(I’m a student at Nanjing Normal University, right near Nanjing University, but I like The NORMAL one better. ๐Ÿ™‚ Normal is “Shi Fan” in Chinese: ๅธˆ่Œƒ and it means “teaching” University so… “Nanjing Normal University is: ๅ—ไบฌๅธˆ่Œƒๅคงๅญฆ

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.ย  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.ย  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! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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: “็ฅไฝ ็”Ÿๆ—ฅๅฟซไน!” (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?)ย  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” :

“่ˆนๅˆฐๆกฅ้—จ่‡ชไผšๅ€ผโ€œ โ€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

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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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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

as the story goes…

View photos from my stories HERE

The Story Continues…

Tonight was a fun night! I just finished watching an American (with Chinese subtitles) movie “Push” with my two dutch friends and a new Korean (who is fluent in Chinese) friend. After the movie, my new Korean friend “Haley” and I conversed as best as we could and I told her about my instructor that studied here last year and taught English in Seoul, Korea last summer. She seemed excited and I told her she could meet him when he comes in December.

These past few nights the girls and I have been having quite a good time together. We have been trying new restaurants and walking down the streets of Nanjing to see what we can find, like some delicious fruits for really cheap. The mandarin oranges here are eaten when they are a certain greenish-yellow color.ย  You can wait until later when they are orange or you can eat them like the chinese, they are actually still quite as good green.

My roommate and I have started to enjoy some chilling/studying time in our room, today especially because it’s been a long one. We both woke up early to try and get our internet set up this morning and after running back and forth to our dorm a few times in the heat, we started to get worn out. So my friend Bingo (from last year) called me while we were waiting in line for the internet and told me that he was coming to see me. He took us out to lunch just after we started getting stressed about the internet not working so well even after we just bought it. (They give you an ethernet cord so it’s not wireless and then on top of that my roommate said she could only use her email and it was really slow. Also they couldn’t download the program to use it on my mac so I have to go to them tomorrow and have them check it out)

Here lately we’ve been shown how the Chinese really aren’t organized in important things like this, of course those from the western world it’s quite annoying because it’s so easy to have all these things back home, but here, it’s a challenge, a game if you please, a SCAVENGER HUNT! Go here, do this, go back and get what you need, then go here, find out your classes… oh the schedule is written in Chinese and I can’t read it of course, then go get your books stand in a line for a really long time frustrated and hot with humid weather. It’s quite the experience and it makes you really treasure the things you have so easily back home but it’s still wonderfully adventurous here.

Luckily we got my and all of my friend’s internet connections fixed and we are in our correct classes with everything we need. This weekend my roommate is going out of town with her boyfriend so my other friend from Belgium, Line (like Lee-nah) are going to explore more of the city! I think we plan on going to this big park where there is a beautiful huge lake just north of the city but I’m not for sure we might do some more fun things than just that ๐Ÿ™‚ (some photos will follow of course!)

Tomorrow I have a listening class tomorrow but soon I hope to video record one of my classes and post it so that you can see what my class is like ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am so happy that many of you have contacted me and I thank you all for the support and encouragement you have given! I miss you all VERY MUCH and I hope that you are enjoying reading and seeing my adventures! I have skype available now in my dorm so if you want to contact me that way you can too! I hope you are all doing well and I think about you quite often!

with love from China,
Amanda

View photos from my stories HERE

Beginings in Nanjing…

You can follow along story photos on my flickr photostream HERE

My New Home

This is my third day in Nanjing and on the way back to my dorm after buying necessities from the street I thought: “The night is beautiful and the air is sweet, it has been a great day and so I should write.” ๐Ÿ™‚

The first day I got here it was kind of crazy. I called my Chinese friend Lynn before I left Shanghai so she could pick up from the train but I had to use my laptop and skype because my chinese number needed more money.When I got there I thought she said she was going to be near the ticket machines. So I waited a few minutes thinking she wasn’t there yet. I started walking around to see if she would recognize me (because I had never seen her before). After about 40 minutes I got frustrated and couldn’t find her. I thought I was moving around too much trying to find her so I asked a nearby officer “zai nar dianhua ma?”ย  (where is the phone?) I don’t even know if I pronounced it correctly but hey that’s why I’m here in China…. to learn Chinese. (^_^)Luckily there was a store to pay and use phones. I called her and she said she had just arrived so that maybe that’s why I didn’t see her. I said okay and went to find her again but couldn’t, then to call her again she actually came to the store saying she knew where it was and met me at the end of our phone call.

Lynn and I both drug, NOT ROLLED my luggage (because my wheels are broken) (>.<) to the subway, then to the taxi, then up the hills on campus. I was so tired and thought I was going to collapse before I got to the hotel/dorm. We made it safe and I didn’t have a roommate, they wanted to set me up with a Korean girl and I said that was fine but the second I said it was okay this VERY frustrated, almost FLUENT in Chinese blonde girl sat next to me at the registration desk.

She spoke a little to me in english explaining her situation about how she just got kicked out of her own room because her roommate supposedly paid for the entire room just to keep to herself. : / Strange I thought. She seemed so frustrated because she had her things and so much stuff ready to move in and no where to sleep. She also hadn’t slept since her 15 hour train ride, and even then she couldn’tย ย  sleep waiting on it because in China they DO NOT let you sleep in the waiting room. (they don’t want you to forget your train) So they constantly walk by blowing a whistle.

As she sit there frustrated but speaking wonderful Chinese to the clerk and my friend Lynn, we started discussing that she could be MY roommate. I liked that better, someone else from a different place other than asia would be cool to hang out with…. and she was ๐Ÿ™‚ She’s a Belgium girl and a very sweet and smart one at that. She’s a great roommate and I think we get along very well. She has made friends with a girl who was in her class in Belgium and has also come here to study. The two Belgium girls, my Chinese friend Lynn and I have been hanging out quite a bit lately, I think we are a great group. ๐Ÿ™‚

On the second day Annelies sounds like “Anna-Lees” (my Belgium roommate) and I didn’t spend much time together the first two days but we both woke up to find our air conditioner stopped working. We were told they were going to fix it and when we went out to dinner and came back it was even more broken (they had taken it apart!) So we had to switch rooms, LUCKILY just across the hall. We like this room much better anyway and she let me have the window and air conditioner side… that she doesn’t like, I do. ๐Ÿ™‚ We are just opposite and alike enough that I think we work well together.

I took the crew to a bao-zi (small bread like dumpling) restaurant last night that I remembered from a year and a half ago when we (classmates from RCC and I) were here with John. They said it looked sketchy but there was a line and it was raining so they said: “It must be good.” I assured them that it’s good enough for me to remember a year and half later. I think just about everyone on our trip last year remembered that wonderful juicy dumpling place (we called it). They really liked it and couldn’t believe how cheap it was. They said they will definitely come there on a cold rainy winter day. ๐Ÿ™‚ So with these two Chinese girls and two foreigners that are frequent travelers of China I thought it was kinda cool and funny that I lead them to a cool restaurant.

There are several places that we already like, the dutch girls and I really like the nightly street market because you can go there and buy just about anything you need for your dorm and for SUPER CHEAP, but even cheaper if you bring a Chinese friend to help bargaining. The Chinese girls also took us to a really great supermarket that we took a FREE bus to! We needed some things for our dorm that they don’t sell on the street market so they took us there. I think we spent more than an hour and half there because we were amazed at all the things they had! So many choices! AND TWO FLOORS! One for food and checkout, the top for electronics, home supplies and clothes! Much better than a Wal-Mart I think but I haven’t seen the Chinese Wal-Mart yet. ๐Ÿ˜›

Through great laughs and exchanging of languages this new place has been wonderfully easy to call my new home ๐Ÿ™‚

with love from China,

Amanda

You can follow along story photos on my flickr photostream HERE

New Life In China..

So most of you know by now that I am currently studying the Chinese language in Nanjing, China. I am at a wonderful school called: “Nanjing Normal University” and I have just today had my first day of class. I like it very much here and I know that the next 3 and a half months are going to go by really fast! So far I have sent out emails explaining my new adventures on my way here and I wanted to include them in my blog (I am also going to continue the stories hopefully with more photos and links to my flickr page where you can see most of the photos/videos I am posting.)

So here is my second (because my first one was on facebook) written adventure….

The Adventure Continues…. with greetings from Shanghai.

It’s 6:00am and I am sitting on a bay-like window in my friend Sherill’s room and she is on the 12th floor of an apartment in Shanghai, China. I woke up earlier this morning before the sun came up and took a panoramic of the city with my camera. Surprisingly THIS part of the city actually sleeps, Shanghai is the New York of China and I was astonished to see is so quiet this early morning! It really sounded almost like my back yard in Seagrove! The playful song of the crickets reminded me of back home ๐Ÿ™‚ I am now sitting looking at this beautiful sunrise that I ALSO took a panoramic of and can show you later.

Yesterday I did all I could to prepare myself for the extremely long flight here. It’s almost useless, the first major part of the trip doesn’t seem that bad because you start getting used to being in the air, but then sleep doesn’t come by well for anyoneย  and near the end (about 2-3 hours away) you just get a little annoyed. I wasn’t so restless this time because I had made some friends. These guys in front of me were playing a card game. They all seemed to have WAY too many cards in their hand but they held it well like a Chinese fan. One guy turned around and saw me and just smiled… so sweetly and so lightly that I thought it was almost like he said something generous with it. He turned around minutes later to look at me again and then when I tried to smile the same way he asked: “Would you like to play?” Yes! I said, after I had seen his sweet smile I knew I wanted to be friends with him and hoped that he would ask if I wanted to play.

He spoke pretty good english and was a little impressed to hear me speak a little Chinese. He tried to teach me how to play this card game but my skills at holding the cards like him were terrible haha. You have to draw cards FAST while at the same time put the ones in your hand in order of color and type. Then you lay them down in hopes to get higher scores of your apponnent. I know I played SEVERAL times with them and he helped me trying to explain how everything worked, but I still was pretty lost. I had fun and after we played Hai Tao (my new Chinese friend) wanted to talk and exchange QQ (Chinese Chat) and email information.

After my new friend Hai Tao (his American name is Tony) and I exchanged info, he came back to sit next to me where there was an empty seat. Come to find out that he and his crew were just traveling back from NC!!!! HOW COOL?! They went to Wilmington and were amazed by the beaches. We talked for a long while about the Chinese language and Chinese and American life in general. We both had really similar views about life especially about not wanting to live just for money. We discussed how different and similar our cultures are and how we love things about each other’s culture. I told him thank you for helping me understand some more Chinese and showing me what wonderful people they can be. We made a great connection and I hope we will stay in touch.

Sherill picked me up from the airport and took me back to her uncle’s apartment. She let me rest while she went to finish working at a local french bakery, then she came back after letting me rest and she was so happy to see me that we went out down the street. She has already shown me some great street food and last night she told me “duck neck” was a famous chinese snack. I knew I was going to have to try some new and different foods here but I didn’t expect DUCK NECK to be as good as it was! :). She and I also connected last night and became closer in our friendship, sometimes we call each other jiejie (which means sister) and we always wish we lived closer together. This morning we exchanged gifts for each other and talked about the calming rain that came early this morning.

It’s becoming easier to talk to my friends in Chinese and they talk to me in English. Today I will go to the Starbucks down the street where there is wifi and call home, then back to Sherill’s apartment to study some Chinese before she gets off work.
My time with Sherill and Tony alone has shown me what such a wonderful people the Chinese are and I am so grateful to be here in their country learning their language. Sometimes is seems overwhelming because there is so much to learn and it’s a hard language but I am up for the challenge because it keeps finding new ways to romance me ๐Ÿ™‚

with love from China,

Amanda

Clarke

Clarke is one of the many wonderful people that I work with. She’s very sweet and cute and I decided to photograph her for some headshot practice. She is a really interesting person and plays the harp! We had a lot of fun on the shoot joking about our fun times at work. The afternoon presented us with some nice soft light, though it was a bit chilly, we both had a great time.