Thursday, February 25, 2016

First Day in China

Ok heads up- My blog posts will probably not be very organized because I have to type them on my phone because of VPNs  and China hating Google and things like that. So I apologize.
China is beautiful! The trip was so long- about 31 hours total of traveling. I got into Seattle around 7:30 am, waited for 5 hours until the flight to China left, had the 14 1/2 hours flight to China (I watched like six movies and barely slept- I wasn't nervous at all, I just could not get comfortable), met a lot of ILP people in the Hong Kong airport, had to wait there for another 3 hours for more people to get in, then we took an hour-long ferry to mainland China, went through customs, took a 2-hour bus ride to Zhongshan, and FINALLY got to our apartment around1:00 am. We didn't get to bed until about3:00 because we had to unpack and I needed to take a shower. Then I had to get up at 8:30 am because we had to meet the principal at 9:30 that morning. 
Our native coordinator, Amber, is amazing. She is so sweet and funny. Amber is her English name. Most Chinese people have their Chinese names that we Americans can't pronounce so they give themselves English names as well. Our kids have given English names too. After meeting the Chinese teachers and getting a tour of the school (the school is really beautiful, but the students are so crazy! They were just running around everywhere- there is very little adult supervision) Amber took us around Zhongshan a little bit. We took a bus for a few minutes to the bank first so we could withdraw some money. And seriously, Chinese driving is insane. There are like zero traffic laws. Everyone switches between lanes without blinkers or anything, no one really stays in their lane (lots of swerving), people speed all the time and like, really speed, and there are barely any traffic lights. Like huge intersections have NO traffic lights. People just go through and honk at each other. It's just hard to explain how crazy it is without seeing it. The cars are seriously within inches of each other as they pass going totally different directions. But I have yet to see an accident. Crossing the street is terrifying. Along with no streetlights, there are also no pedestrian walkways (well, a couple, but the cars drive through anyways). So you just have to walk across these crazy streets and pray you don't get hit. 
After the bank, Amber took us to a huge shopping mall. The entire top floor was this giant market/store. It was like a department store because it had clothes, shoes, bedding, etc., but it also had an entire food market and grocery store aisles like shampoo and toilet paper and stuff like that. We picked up a few things (I got a pillow because the one in my apartment is rock hard. The mattress is too. It's like sleeping on the floor.) and I made my very first purchase with yuan! It was easy though because after scanning everything the cashier just typed how  many yuan into a calculator and showed it to me. Everything is so cheap! My pillow is really nice and it was like $3. I'm excited for when we do some actual clothes shopping. I saw a Nike store and I'm hoping their Nikes are cheap...at least cheaper than they are in the US. 
After the mall Amber took us to this park. Zhongshan has a ton of really gorgeous parks and ponds. We hiked to the top of this cute little pagoda and then back down to this adorable little park next to a pond. It was very cloudy and drizzly, but still very pretty. After the park we walked back to Amber's apartment where we just talked for an hour or so. At 6:00 we met another ILP group and had dinner at this amazing dumpling place. There was so much food! It was so fun though because they would bring out a new plate of food every five minutes or so, and you just get bites off with your chopsticks all from the same plate in the middle. There was a cold cucumber salad, these fried green beans that tasted like french fries, fried dumplings, boiled dumpling, this spicy pork dish, noodles, fried rice, vegetable dumplings, sweet and sour pork, and fried bread. Probably some more stuff too, but we were all so tired that we were sort of zoning out by the end. 
We got back to our apartment around8:00 pm and had to have a meeting, but then everyone just fell asleep immediately. Today was meetings all day and preparation for teaching, like making signs and getting our rooms prepared. We start teaching on Thursday. The schedule our school wants us to follow is super confusing, so it will take a while to get used to it. 
 My group is amazing. We all get along really well. We all agreed that we got really lucky group-wise, because in Hong Kong there were lots of girls in the airport that I did not want to live with for four months. (I'm sure they were all very nice- but you know how that is.)
So far I love it! Zhongshan is beautiful. It is very different but I like it. The culture shock hasn't set in yet, so I'm enjoying it until that happens. Everywhere we go we gets stares. It's like being a celebrity. People take pictures and yell out "Beautiful!" in Chinese and sometimes English. They love our white skin. Funny because we pride ourselves on being super tan!
So yeah, that was my first day. Super busy but absolutely wonderful. Last couple days we have really been focusing on getting ready to teach, which I am very excited (and a little nervous) for!
I'll  keep everyone updated on my next adventure.
Zaí jían,
Anne