Hey Fam, it was so good to talk to you today! (Sorry I missed you, Ashley!)
These next few days look like they are going to be insane, so I probably won't be able to call until sometime Sunday, so here is an update on everything:
Well, I just took my first shower in our bathroom-I literally had to straddle our washing machine to rinse out my hair, haha. (our bathroom IS our shower) We only have hot water at certain times of the day, so I basically can only take a shower between 9 and 10:30 at night or 6-7 in the morning. Also, apparently electricity in China is ten times more expensive here, so we can only use our lights at night time and we can't leave anything plugged in during the day, because if we go over our lotted amount, we have to pay the school. As it is, we get more electricity then the Chinese teachers.
Today, we walked into down town and went shopping at the JiaJiaYue-which literally means happy happy smile. It's a HUGE super market (kinda like their version of Walmart) and has everything for way cheap. I took out about 500 Yuan today at the bank (which is about 85 american dollars) and I spent a littler over a hundred that would have easily have been about 40-50 American dollars at Walmart for the amount of stuff I got. I got the cutest little lunch box there for my meals-and it totally helps because it's like portion control at the cafeteria, and if I can't eat it all, I can smuggle it out and throw it away at the dumpster by our apartments or feed it to the sha maos (little cats) outside of our apartment. Anyway, checking out was a huge mess. The girl who checked me out spoke no English and she asked me if I wanted another plastic bag after I checked out. I said yes and she held out her hand, as if I needed more money. I asked: "Do I have to pay for a bag?" and she laughed and looked at all the people in the line like I was so dumb. So I gave her some money and she gave me some change and I went on my merry way. (Yes, they do charge for plastic bags.) OH! I also bought the Chinese version of a heating pad-it's like a little bubble of water that you plug in to the wall and the water is literally boiling in five minutes and it stays warm for hours. A bunch of us bought them because it's SO cold in our apartments and they are really nice to cuddle with. After we went shopping, I bought a baked sweet potato from a toothless man in the street-it was WAY nom nom nommy, and then we took rabbit taxis back to the school with all of our stuff. They are three wheeled cars and are driven SO crazy, I'm seriously surprised that we didn't kill a pedestrian. But, it was better then being out in the cold and the wind with all our stuff.
We had a really awesome veggie stir fry with tons of cauliflower and carrots for dinner tonight, with white rice and a roll. Nom Nom Nom. The food here is actually really good, and Dana and I bought a ton of new things to try at the market today. The Chinese have a really awesome version of an American Ho-Ho and I'm addicted to their rice cracker cakes. The Chinese are also obsessed with anything peach flavored. They also do not believe in milk.
We had planning meetings all afternoon and we were broken up into our teaching teams. I teach in the afternoon from 1:30-4:50 with three other people. We have two groups that will come in, and I will be teaching basic reading to them along with doing our specialized activities/lessons. I'm actually teaching 7-9 year olds, so a bit of an older group then we originally thought. I'll still get to tuck in our kids at night though, so I'm excited for that. We have been in lesson planning meetings all night and I am so exhausted from it all.
We got profiles of our students so that we can prepare for them. It looks like a crazy bunch-some are really sweet, some are trouble makers and some apparently don't wear underwear.
Tomorrow we will go into the city and trade at the night market before setting up our classrooms. I'm a real teacher here, I have my own classroom and ILP has their own floor in the third building on campus. We come up with our own rules, classroom structure and activities. It's crazy to realize that I'm about to be a REAL teacher here, and that I haven't even gotten my certificate in the states. I guess I hadn't realized that. I'm so stoked.
Everyone here is so nice and I'm getting along great with my roommate and my teaching group. Our head teachers are nice, but seem a little overwhelmed with how big our group is. Hopefully they will get it together.
I'll send some pictures tomorrow. I'm about to crawl into my crazy hard bed and pass out.
Love you all! Hope everything is well back East. Peace, Love and China!
From: "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>
To: Chelsie Whitney <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Thursday, February 9, 2012 8:27 AM
Subject: Re: Hi Mama Bear!
Well I hope that you are able to get the internet to work for you for school- ask your head teachers, they might have suggestions- do they have a library with technology at the school? Is there anyway you can send me the work and I can forward it to your teachers by email?
Hope you will sleep well! you are in Weihai!!!!!!! Love ya little cub!
From: "Chelsie Whitney" <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, February 9, 2012 8:35:27 AM
Subject: Hi Mama Bear!
So, it's like nine fifteen here in Weihai and Dana and I just finished unpacking for the most part. I cannot get any of my pictures to attach-the internet here is not reliable and I'm already having problems getting it to access byui.edu, so that may be a problem here in the near future (I have assignments due tomorrow night!) If I can't get it to work reliably by tomorrow, I'm going to be in a very bad situation. I'll keep you posted.
I hope you are having a good day at school! Dana and I are about to go to sleep in Weihai! I love you, Mama Bear!
I'll chat with you tomorrow!