Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring Break...and other stuff

Last week I was in Beijing with some friends for our Spring Break. It was a great time! Especially because we were able break the language pledge for a few days and actually have some good conversations. That is one of the downsides of life in Harbin with the language pledge, theres a lot of really cool, interesting people but it is hard to really get to know them because we are forced to speak Chinese all the time. So it was nice to have a break from Chinese for 6 days.

Above is a picture of the Temple of Heaven. This is where the Chinese Emperor would annually come to make sacrifices for good harvests. The Temple of Heaven is also a beautiful park and the day we went was a perfect day. It was nice to get away from the Harbin cold and have some nice warm weather for a change.

This picuture above is Ronnie and I in what I think is "Center of the Universe." Everyone around was crowded tightly around this spot and you had to be quick to get on, have a friend take a picture and then get off. And speaking of Ronnie, she has been one of the cool people I have met here. She is actually Korean who goes to college in Boston. But she came to the states on her own for her junior and senior year of high school. I could not imagine living on my own in another country when I was just 16. So she is pretty hardcore.

The coolest thing we did was hike a remote section of the Great Wall. We were not really sure how to get there, my travel book just said to get off on this certain bus stop and then take a taxi the rest of the way. So when we got off, there was this guy above waiting for us who said he would take us to the start of the Great Wall, and then pick us up about 3 hours later at the end of it and take us back to Beijing. We haggled for a little bit and eventually got it down to something like $15-$20 a person, something like that. He was very interesting and we had a good time talking with him on the way to the Wall.

Here are some pictures of the wall. It was really incredible. It was a beautiful day, harldy anyone else around and amazing scenery. The two other girls above are Cat, the tall blonde, and Charlene the Chinese-American. Charlene's parents are from Taiwan and she still has family there. Her Chinese is also pretty incredible, a lot of people are fooled into thinking she is a native speaker. Im envious. Cat is from Texas and attends to attract a lot of attention from Chinese on-lookers. They probably dont see 6 ft. blondes walking the streets of China very often. The other
guy on the trip, Kyle, did not make it to the wall because we suspect he ate something that did not sit well with his stomach. So, unfortunately he took the day to rest back in Beijing. He was missed.

These last two pictures are Tiananmen Square. I had to convince Charlene and Ronnie we should stay for a few minutes to watch the lowering of the Chinese Flag ceremony. They reluctantly agreed and what I thought would only be a few minutes turned out to be about an hour...haha, I felt bad. The flag ceremony was actually not very exciting but I did see someone get arrested on the square for who knows what and get carted away in a police van.

So that was some of the highlights of Spring Break. I only have about 5 more weeks in China until I head back to the States. Right now Im looking for a job to come back to China starting in August. Most likely I will be an RA at the current university I am in in Harbin or teaching English in a small town in Sichuan province at a public university. The RA job is my first choice because it would allow me to continue taking my current classes and I think my Chinese would improve the most with that job. But I wont know for a few more weeks whether or not I get the job. I have pretty much already received the teaching english job. They mailed me the contract to sign a few days ago and I just need to stall a little bit until I hear about the RA job. Both jobs have their plusses and minuses so whichever one I do, I will be excited.

Lastly, I wanted to tell a quick story about what happened last weekend. It is probably the weirdest event that I have experienced in China. Last weekend, about 6 of us went out to a movie and dinner and were heading back to campus at about 8 o'clock. Cat, one of the girls from the pictures above, and I were walking ahead of the other just chatting on our way back to campus. All of a sudden, we heard one of the Chinese roommates exclaim, hey, hey na chu lai le, na chu la le!!! (this means something like hey, hey, taken out, taken out....not sure how to properly translate). Surprised we both turned around and there was this Chinese guy (actually a guy from Xinjiang province, so he looks more central Asian than Chinese). He had Cat's wallet in his hand but politely handed it back to her and said, "oh, bu hao yisi" (which is bascially Im sorry, but literally "im so embarrased.") Then he just turned and quickly left. I was just stunned. This guy just picked her pocket, was found out and had to say "oh, my bad" here's your wallet. But really what else is there to say for him. It was pretty crazy.

(also, as a side note, I have looked over some of my recent posts and noticed a lot of grammatical errors. From now on I will proofread these things before I post them. If people are going to read this I should at least spell everything correctly. Anyway, just wanted to let you know.)