Monday, October 8

in Austin

I'm in Austin now, visiting my other grandmother, my cousin, and my home fellowship. I spent Friday and most of Saturday with my cousin in North Austin where she lives in an apartment complex that is almost resort-like. A nice pool (it's been hot here), free breakfast on the first Saturday of the month, shuffleboard table, and a little gym. I guess all that is not so uncommon, but I was still impressed.

I hear that Yanji is getting cool - that it's almost time to start wearing long johns underneath clothes. They just finished their October holiday, which doesn't make me jealous, since I'm on a long holiday myself, but I did miss the annual harvest volunteer trip, where students and teachers go out to a nearby farm to spend the day cutting rice, corn, or soybeans. I missed seeing the new freshmen going through military training before the fall semester starts and seeing their impossibly wide eyes when their first foreign teacher walks into the room of their English conversation class.

I'm not ready to go back yet. I've still got a lot left to do here in the States and I'm looking forward to spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with family. I don't feel so out of place here, but there are still moments when I find myself in a little of a surreal atmosphere. One of those, strangely enough, is in bathrooms that provide toilet seat covers. I am now used to public restrooms providing toilet paper, but providing seat covers too? Wow.

I was also a little shocked on Saturday while out to celebrate my younger cousin's birthday with her family and my grandmother. I thought we were in a relatively normal restaurant. It was packed with people, but most of the entrees were at least 20 dollars! I found myself looking around at all the people there - they looked normal. I couldn't believe all those people were paying such prices.

Anyhow, life here is good. I'm enjoying it while also missing being in China.

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