Archive for July, 2010

Woot! Woot!

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Class of 2010!

I know this is picture is rather out-of-place but my professor just posted this on her FB and I could not help posting it on here. I love this picture because it shows how happy we were that the program is all over. In fact, Buster (in the middle) is holding up a pie-chart countdown of how many more days we had left. He colored each piece of the pie for each remaining day. It became a kind of closure for us. No graduation ceremony … but we had a fun time celebrating the countdown!

Qu Yang Lake

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Gone Swimming

One of the girls said to me today that when she was young, she thought Qu Yang was the ocean. Today, we went to visit this huge lake about 40 minutes away. The water was clear and surrounded by mountains. When we got off the bus, we took at 20-minute boat ride to a secluded area and set up. The students had a blast swimming, playing cards (girls), playing soccer (guys), listening to music, and chatting away. I got busy taking lots of pictures. It was such a beautiful and peaceful place.

Water Buffalo

There were a couple of water buffaloes that grazed nearby. We kept calling out to them, but they merely glanced up and continued eating.

Fun Times

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Ivy, Susan, Susie, and Me

Sometime in the afternoon, we hung out at Tea and Juice. It was nice because the store made the 2nd floor available for our big group even though it’s usually reserved for evening customers. I got to know this group of girls I met the day before. In particular, I was able to talk to Ivy about all kinds of things we had in common, including movies, poetry (John Keats!), music, and actors/actresses. I also taught her a few chords on the guitar I brought with me.

I learned a lot about the media culture in this town and how they mostly watch movies (esp. foreign movies) via the internet because a) there are no movie theaters, b) they don’t sell DVDs here, and c) it’s free. They also frequently use MSN messaging and something called QQ (equivalent to our old ICQ program). For the most part, this is how they prefer to keep in touch with people besides text messaging. Another important aspect of their lives as students is that they are in school from 6:50 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. I have yet to really know what they do there for that long, but I gather there are a lot of study periods. Someday, I will write about the education system and the rationale, motivations, and goals of passing an exam.

Picnic and Photography

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Picnic!

Today, we went out on the lakeside for a picnic. The students brought all kinds of local food, some homemade and some bought from the nearby “shao kao” or barbecue. We brought good ol’ peanut butter and jelly sandwich to share. Again, there was quite a good turn-out. When we got to the lake, the sun was blazing hot and we worried about getting burned. The students, on the other hand, were excited to go swimming. But in just 5 minutes after we got there, it started to rain! We took shelter under a canopy in the “shao kao” place — and we gave her very good business.

Notice the roll of toilet paper near the top of the picture? Easy and convenient … I love it!

Lakeside Swimming

This is the lake where they wanted to go swimming. I can’t believe this is walking distance from where they live. We had the picnic a few steps away from this place. Sometimes, I think they take this picturesque scenery for granted …

Poolside Dam

I finally started using my DSLR to take pictures of this place. This dam near the lake attracts a lot of swimmers and people who want to cool off from the heat. Vendors have set up shop to sell swim suits, inner tubes, and life vests.

Another view of the Dam

In the future, I hope to post more pictures. Here’s another view of the Dam. The bridge (where the bike and motorcyle are crossing) connects to a village nearby.

Chinese Calligraphy

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Calligraphy Class

As part of the “exchange” in this program, the Chinese students — or their teacher, in this case, gave us a lesson on Chinese calligraphy. When I was a little girl, I used to take lessons and I remember spending hours practicing with the brush (both thick and fine) and ink. Seeing the little children in this painstaking discipline brought back those memories. Two years ago, I actually purchased my own set of brushes and got the special kind of ink block that you melt with water against a flat stone. I’ve never used it because I had been too busy.

The teacher talked about Chinese calligraphy as representing the essence of China’s language, art, history, religion, and philosophy. His lecture was translated so I wasn’t able to fully grasp the details. I may go back and take lessons from him. I found this a fascinating and intriguing idea and I fully intend to learn more about it.

It’s time to break out the brush and the ink ….

Reno

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

me and Reno

I thought that I would finish my comprehensive exam before the Cultural Exchange program. Alas, I had to take two and a half days off to work on it. On the first day, I met this girl Reno (and yes, I explained that this is a famous town in the U.S.) with whom I shared a tangyuan lunch and a love for music (“I’m Yours”). It’s too bad she had to leave town early, and we never got more opportunities to hang out because I was locked in my room working on my paper. I’m glad that we are emailing, though, and hope that we continue to do so. Maybe someday, she’ll come to visit and we’ll see each other again!

Angry Birds and Jason Mraz

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Angry Birds

What do these two have in common?

During these last few weeks of stressing and working on my comprehensive exam, I have taken study breaks by playing Angry Birds on my iTouch — I’ve actually finished all the levels that are available. I’ve also been listening to/watching Jason Mraz on Youtube — I’ve memorized his expressions and now know a lot of his songs.

I’ve finally turned in my cumulative 40-page paper (complete with references). I think that I will forever associate the images of these angry birds and the tunes of Wordplay and Lucky (among others) with my comprehensive exam. All I need now is another break.

Comps

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

University of Oklahoma

Workin’ … Workin’ … Workin’ … til 7/23

Cultural Exchange

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Game Time

Today was the first day of the Cultural Exchange program. We had double the number of students who registered! They are an outgoing, eager group who couldn’t wait to speak and practice English. Our team prepared icebreakers and introductions and games to get the program going. I met a few of the high schoolers, and I got to know these girls who were just fascinated with meeting a foreigner, albeit one who looks just like them but just happens to speak better English! 😛 I was also able to give some of them an English name, usually one that is phonetically closest to their Chinese name. What I do is I suggest three names for them to choose from and they pick one they like best. I’ve done this several times already in the past and it is really fun to do. I hope to get to know these girls better throughout these next couple of weeks.

Dog Meat

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

Sizzling Dog Dish

For the record, I did not know I was eating dog. No one told me because they thought I would not eat it if I knew. They’re probably right … but then again, I’ve been known to be adventurous when eating in new places. Apparently, this type of meat is a delicacy around here. If someone invites you to their home and they serve dog meat, it means you are an honored guest. The only right thing to do is to eat what is offered. I heard a cute rule of thumb on proper cultural etiquette from the foreigners who live here: whatever it is they do, just follow, and whatever they offer you to eat, just swallow. Today, I had my first dog meat … not bad. It didn’t taste like chicken, more like beef.