Wednesday, December 28

a week of experiences

I've had a few firsts this week:
My first time to sing (and, ahem, dance) with my students at a karaoke room. My beginner class took me and my partner teacher out to eat and then they insisted we go to the nore-bang (Korean for song room) together. I've been to plenty of these in Korea, but this was my first one in China. We sang a few songs together and then everybody got up and they put on dance music. Not only that, but they spun a bottle on the floor to decide who would dance in the center. It was an experience.

Last night was my first time to eat dog. Yes, I ate it. It was good. I always said that I wouldn't intentionally go out and eat dog, but that I would eat it if I was taken to eat it. Well, last night, I got that opportunity. My roommates from the summer English house took me out for a meal before we separate for the winter. They ordered dog soup, and honestly, I would have thought it was beef if I hadn't known. They brought out a broth to warm in front of us, then the meat and veggies to put in with some noodles. They also ordered another dish, guo ba rou, which is a sweet and sour pork dish that just about every Westerner likes. I think they ordered it as a back up. Anyhow, we had a good dinner. Afterwards, I went to meet a group of teachers at a going away dinner for one of our teachers in the conversation office, then we went to the sauna/bath house for a last scrub and massage. Very nice.

Tonight, I'm headed out. Not quite packed yet, and still a few errands to run, but I should be ready by 5. A small group of us is flying to Beijing together and a larger group is taking the train (24 hour train ride, and they didn't get sleepers...I don't envy them). So, we'll meet up for two nights in Beijing, bring in the new year together, and then I'm off to Texas! Yee-haw!

Friday, December 23

christmas eve!

I can't believe it's already Christmas Eve. Of course, it doesn't feel like it, because we're at the office grading and getting stuff done this morning. We gathered at the office today at 8:30 AM to share breakfast and grading. It was actually worth coming just for the breakfast offerings. One girl made omelets, I made breakfast casserole and banana chocolate chip bread, and one girl even found bacon to bring. Now, we're just working together to the tune of Christmas music. Yesterday, some of our classes finished their finals, so we're getting the first round graded before the last set of tests comes in on Monday. I got my two beginner classes graded and their averages are finished. That feels really good!

I'll be in Yanji until Thursday night, then I'm going to Beijing with some of the other conversation teachers for a few days before heading home on the first. I think I already mentioned that in a post a few weeks ago...but what else can I write about here?

Tonight, some of us are having a Christmas Eve gift exchange. We might go ice skating at an outdoor rink later this afternoon, but other than that we don't have any special plans for the holiday. We're all a little too caught up in getting stuff finished. I did get two cookies - one gingerbread and one decorated sugar cookie - made for all my 80 students and 17 teachers in the English conversation department. You can see my box with some of the cookie packages and cards under my baby Christmas tree in my room. I bought it downtown a few weeks ago for about a dollar. Very worth it. I also had some of the students who I got to know this summer over to decorate cookies with me and take some home as their present. All that baking has helped put me in the Christmas spirit, and I think I'll do a little more for the party tonight and hopefully some for a local orphanage before I give up baking for the year.

Tuesday, December 13

what's up

I got to teach that to my beginner students yesterday. There's not a real translation into Korean, but I tried to show them different situations where they would hear it or use it. They thought it was fun. We're learning about how to decline invitations, and how to give excuses, so I also taught them about how a girl can refuse a date by saying that she has to wash her hair (and that's not a good signal for the boy) and how an excuse for kids who don't do their homework is to say "my dog ate it." They found that one especially funny.

Anyhow. The semester is winding down and I am finding out how much I love my students! I just want to keep teaching the same ones and not lose them next semester. I'll probably get some of the same ones, and I'll learn to love new ones.

Monday was a friend's birthday. A big group of us braved the cold in our multiple layers, scarves over our mouths and noses, caps on, hoods over those. We might as well be wearing burqas with as much skin as we're showing. With all this on, I stay warm when I go out, but my toes and hands feel the cold. I've got good gloves, but my hands only stay warm if they're inside my pockets. I can't walk around with them in my pockets, though, because I'm afraid I might slip and fall on the ice. One person I know slipped and fell flat back on her head yesterday. I've always enjoyed cold weather, though, and this is still a little bit of an adventure for me. This morning, I left my warm room before it was light and walked across campus outside to grab a taxi to a friend's house downtown. I couldn't see where the snow was deep or not, and I found myself walking in a spot off the beaten track where it was a foot or so deep even though it hasn't snowed in a few weeks. The fact that we can still walk on snow, even so long after a snow, is kinda fun. Last week, I made my first snowman in a few years with two of my younger (not yet teenager) friends. It was a cute little guy.

I started making Christmas cookies (thanks to the vanilla and shortening my mom sent me!) last night. I put them in the freezer to keep until next week, and then I'll make little packages to give out to my students and friends. Yay for Christmas!

Monday, December 12

maybe these are funny only to me

But, I keep posting them anyway. Perhaps so I can remember them later.
These are answers from the beginner fill in the blank section on the last test.

In America, a popular food to eat when you watch movies is _____.
These are the answers I got: chores, laundry (as well as some people who actually got popcorn.)

If you want to be healthy, eat 3 ____ a day.
Some funny answers: chores, letters, laundry, popcorn

I had to ____ bill this weekend. It wasn't fun.
One guy wrote "girlfriend."

Some common ____ are laundry, vacuuming, dusting, and sweeping.
Some funny answers: roommates, meals

Only two more weeks of classes! I give my last final on December 26th, then I'll be heading home on January 1st.

Monday, December 5

"A Special Memory"

That was the title I gave to my beginner students last week. I translated the word "memory" for them. We've been studying the past tense in the last unit. This is one essay I got. (He's one of my better students, by the way.)

When I was a high school. My high school is far from my home. So I
walked to school forty minutes everyday. Sometimes I read some books and
walked. But very special time is I had lunch and walked. I remember
it's very tired. I know this is not good for my health. But I don't
had a time. Now it's a very special memoris in my head. I want to
eat lunch and walk now.

I mean, doesn't everyone, deep down inside, want to eat lunch and walk at the same time?
Another student begins her essay with the sentence: "Formerly, I was a child." As if I doubted that?

Saturday, December 3

more snow

I thought you guys needed to see some more snow scenes, mostly because I'm so fascinated by snow that I can't stop taking pictures of it when I go out. When we went to the gym again on Thursday, it was snowing again and we slipped and slid down the hill to get a bus. These pics are from that day. The second one is of a bunch of students out on the basketball court outside my dorm scraping ice and snow so it's not so slippery. The third one is a popular picture spot on our campus, and the rest are just random scenes on the way down the hill and downtown on the way to the gym.

It snowed again this morning, and as I was walking through the halls, there was actually snow coming in through the roof in the hallway! I have certainly never seen it snow inside before, but this morning I did. I didn't put on my long johns, because I planned on walking the halls to go to our meeting, but I was wishing I had. Even the room we were meeting in, sitting all close together, and the cafeteria were so cold that with my long coat on, I could still feel a chill. So many people got serious colds this week, but I'm really blessed to be free of sickness.

Yesterday, I had most of my intermediate students over for cake and coffee at my apartment in four shifts. They loved the cake (chocolate, banana, and cranberry pumpkin), having a chance to see my room, and we had a good time talking. It also made me feel warmer with groups of visitors coming into my little room. Yay for snow! Yay for yummy cake and having people over!