Hello world!

Since my last post I think I have adjusted quite well. I'm not as tired as I was, and the complaints I had in the beginning are not even complaints anymore - it's just normal living. I do like it here, a lot. I'm getting used to the sounds and the bustle of activity. I have fallen into somewhat of a routine, but there is already the fear of getting bored. It would be self-inflicted boredom, of course. The group of us that came here together are already struggling to consistently like each other and want to hang out, so we aren't really spending a lot of time with each other. But, there are so many Chinese students who are dying to practice their English show us more about China. But it is exhausting to speak in a foreign language for more than a couple of hours.

Yesterday was the first day that I felt confident in my Chinese and had several successful conversations with Chinese students. It was sort of fun. First, I met three foreign exchange students who live in my building from Ghana who can speak English fluently, but have been here for 5 months already and practiced Chinese with me. We went to lunch and they helped answer a couple of questions about how the dining hall works - I am still figuring it out. That part is somewhat overwhelming. I even got to ride one of the electric bicycles they had - which are sort of like scooters here.

I met up with a student who was at UNG in the Spring for dinner, and she used Chinese almost exclusively but was able to translate when I didn't understand. It was an amazing experience to be able to have conversation for about 2 hours in another language and to actually understand most of what the other person is saying and for them to understand me. After dinner she showed me her dormitory. I felt so awful for complaining at all about my dorm after that. The length of the dorm has 2 metal bunk beds on each wall lined up together, and 2 medium sized armoires filling up the rest of the length of the wall. There are six people to a room, so they use two of the "beds" as storage - but they are basically just tables. Each bed has wooden boards going accross them and a sheet wrapped around the top. There was a table in the middle of the room with more miscellaneous items on it which took up enough space that you could only walk sideways between it and the beds. They do not have air conditioning. This is a typical dorm.

The cool part was how they decorated. Their walls aren't very nice, so they get big pieces of paper which are the length and width of an entire wall and draw all over the paper. It was beautiful! They have competitions for who can have the best "wall paper", and my friend's room had come in 2nd.

After my friend and I parted ways I hung out with one of the students outside and several Chinese students approached us to practice their English (we had to speak a lot of Chinese because their English wasn't very good) and make our aquaintance. It was quite an experience.

Yesterday we had our first KungFu lesson - which is supposed to occur every Wednesday. It was pretty funny. The teacher didn't speak any English so he would be frantically talking in Chinese and then come up and fix our posture himself. We did learn a few new vocabulary words though. The warmups were like nothing I had every seen, But the way they punch was identical to what I remember from Taekwondo way back when I took lessons. We learned a basic set of movements (like a "form") and stood in some positions that gave us a serious leg workout (like Yoga).

The best part was how many people just stopped and watched us. They stare at us as it is throughout town because they see very few foreigners, but I think watching us learn KungFu outside was too much. All the old men in traditional martial art looking outfits came and sat quietly, mothers with children stopped to watch, all the gardeners stopped their work. It was too funny. They didn't laugh at us out loud, but we were all pretty sure they must have been laughing in their heads. I'll take some pictures next time.

We have our first test tomorrow. The classes have been strange, because when we got here we got a schedule of our homework and the tasks for the first lesson in our book, but we haven't really gone by it at all (we think that our teacher from last semester who was originally supposed to come with us and who has been the director for this program for the past 4-5 years created it because it is the same formatting and word choice that we had in her class). Our current teacher seems a bit clueless about it, at least. But the real problem is, we don't really know how to study for this test. He gave us no clear guidelines on what should be on it or how to prepare, which is a little nerve wracking. Also, the grading scale around here is pretty difficult. One small mistake and you lose all the points for something - as opposed to missing one point if you got it almost correct.

I've got more to say, but I will save it for another blog. These are getting too long!