Life around here has been exciting. Yesterday we went back to the Zombie Apocolypse Hospital and got to get a free trial of acupuncture and cupping - only if we wanted to. The acupuncture was freaky to me, and apparently it feels strange while it is in you and you can feel it later. I was too scared to try it, even though they kept saying there were so many benefits.

I had never heard of cupping before yesterday, but it was pretty cool. I'm not convinced it works - it is supposed to get rid of my aches and pains and help me relax - but I also only had a trial. They would normally do it for longer, and the moving cupping (which is the painful type that one of my classmates got on his neck) has more benefits. I can go back any time for only 30Yuan which is about $5. The stationary cupping didn't really feel like anything but a pinch. It just pulls your blood to the area. I still have the welts on my back, but they don't hurt. It was a really neat experience.

There is no point in sleeping in around here. The sun is up at 5AM, and when the sun comes up, firecrackers begin to go off. We have been noticing the firecrackers off and on throughout the day since we got here, and it was explained to us that they are used for weddings, store openings, and when people die. We learned a few days ago about Auspicious things in Chinese culture (I am ashamed to say that I was not the only person in my group who didn't know what Auspicious meant when they first started using that word, so I suppose we are also improving our English). Apparently, Chinese people only get married and open businesses on Auspicious days. But we hear firecrackers every morning, starting around 5, and then throughout the day sometimes. We can't help but wonder if every day is an auspicious day. My boyfriend put it very accurately in saying that "[this] is a culture of celebration".

The other afternoon four of us took a long tour of the west campus (which is the side that we live on). We have intentions of going to the East Campus and exploring sometime soon. As I have said before, they love their landscaping. We took pictures of basically everything that was pretty and landscaped that we could find. [Side note, if anyone is following my pictures at all, I am able to upload them in China but for whatever reason I cannot see them once they are uploaded. I think it has to do with some kind of blocking system. Because of this, I can't put captions under the pictures, but I am hoping that my blogs can help you understand what you are seeing.] There are a couple of pictures up of some trees outside of our building that are painted white on the bottom. Almost all trees are painted that way - we don't know why.

On the way to the Dining Facility every day, we pass this "Stone Garden" as we have dubbed it. I don't really know why I find it so beautiful, but I do. There are tall trees the color of stones all throughout it, and we have started to walk through it in the mornings because it feels like this random inchanted forest in the middle of the city. Often times there are people eating lunch there or just hanging out.

Just past the Stone Garden is one of the outdoor gyms (the Chinese people call it a Playground. They also call basketball courts and tracks playgrounds). We are going to go back sometime soon and get pictures of us doing the exercises because they look so ridiculous, but we can't help but think that they must be pretty good for you. They are all so low impact. They have a treadmill, a bicep curl and a leg press and none of them are electric. Everything in China is low impact. Very few people run here, in fact some people will point and yell if you are running.

The Chinese people are obsessed with basketball, badmitton, and pingpong. They have two giant basketball courts on our campus and one indoor one, but the outdoor ones aren't really basketball courts - they are courts with lots and lots of hoops. It would be pretty hard to play an actual game on them, but in the morning and at different times in the day they are swarmed with people shooting hoops for exercise. Between the rows of student dormitories there are outdoor ping pong tables made of stone. Students play on them all day long. On the sidewalks, you can see students playing badmitton to each other without a net. It's fascinating.

The next part of our tour of the West campus was the Pagoda. It was the first thing I saw here that looked distinctly traditional Chinese in the way we think of it in America. I just love the art and the dragons and phoenixes and kylins. We had a really good time there and one of the students named Ben turned on the music on his phone and played music from Frozen. Then he did a funny little run for us - the videos are hilarious. He is always making us laugh.

I finally spent the first 300 yuan that I pulled out - and I spent it on sweatpants. I bought 3 pair of sweatpants for 75 Yuan, which is less than $12. And they definitely reflect Chinese culture with everything having to be cute. They are so comfortable! I really like them. When I get back to the US, I'm pretty sure I will have the cutest sweatpants of anyone else there.

Another random experience. On Thursday morning I got the experience of drinking soybean milk out of a bag. It's really popular here at breakfast - they eat it with a sweet fried bread. They serve it hot in these tiny, thin, long, clear bags with a straw that pokes through it - sort of like a capri sun but without being able to stand up. I'll take a picture later - it's pretty funny looking.

I will end this blog on a more serious life note. I've decided that the closer you live to people, the more you can learn to love them as people - even when your initial reaction was "I don't like you". My room mate and I are getting along phenomenally. She and I laugh that we are literally the same person. We have been talking about how we are falling in friend love with everyone on this trip. Living so close to people all the time and spending time with each other all the time forces us to get to know each other very quickly. We are all such beautiful people with our own unique experiences, and it is such a privilege to have the opportunity to know them.