Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

I remember my mom used to say this every time we got home from a trip :)....So anyways, I made it home safely. After I had blogged last, Marc and I went to Shanghai for a day and a half. It is a very cool city with amazing architecture. It also has a beautiful Old City section with gardens and Chinese looking buildings. After Shanghai, we went to Beijing. I was there for 2 and a half days and Marc was there for a day and a half. We got to go to a Christian church in Beijing. It was amazing. They allow foreigners to have church, but you can't invite Chinese citizens to go. You have to present a foreign passport to get in. They even have a no baggage policy and no liquid policy. It was amazing to see people from all over the world gathered together praising God in a country where they've done their best to keep God out of. A few days prior to that, Marc's masseuse at the foot massage place told Marc that she was a Christian. She said it in hushed tones, as if people were listening. She said she was the only Christian at her work, but her family are all believers. She asked him if we were believers and if there are a lot of believers in the USA. She said it was hard being a believer in China. I just can't was amazing that she was bold enough to bring the subject up. All the government regulations in the world can't keep God out. So yeah, anyways......I made it to JFK last night and I was reminded of Jess and Jess's story about New York. After Spain, they were excited to return to a land where they speak English. However, they went to JFK first (where no one speaks English), and then they got a taxi driver who didn't speak English. I definitely had that feeling yesterday when I flew in to JFK. I actually did speak English a bit in Beijing though because more people speak English there then in the rest of China. So mom was nice enough to brave the New York City traffic to pick me up..........and she was right on time. I was shocked!!!! It took forever to get home to Philly though because of traffic and construction. We got here around 12:30 a.m. Well I know this entry jumps all over and doesn't say too much, but I gotta go because I need to pack for Creation now. I am so crazy to be going to Creation today after just getting back....but I am really excited too :). See some of you there.......

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I'm sorry about my lack of bloggage.....

Blogs are actually blocked in China......something about free speech??? Apparently there are ways to get around it....:). Marc's internet had been down for a few days so I am just getting a chance to sit down and write a blog. I will highlight each day of my trip so this may get a little long....

When I got off the plane I was really tired because I had only slept 3 hours in the last 40 or so. Nikki and Allen made me stay up though until 10:30. It ended up being the best thing for my jet lag. Nikki and I went to a neighborhood called Itaewan in Seoul. It is full of foreigners and foreign restaurants. There is an Outback Steakhouse, Subway, Quiznos, Burger King.....and COLD STONE CREAMERY. Of course I had to try Cold Stone in Korea!!!

I got to have a tour of Nikki and Allen's school. It was empty because school just let out. The building is big and very nice. I liked that the soccer field is on the roof. While walking to school, we kept running into people that Nikki knew. It amazed me that we saw so many people she knows in a city of millions. After the school tour, Nikki, Allen, and I took a bus up Nasam Mountain. We went up the North Seoul Tower. On clear days, you can see all the way to N. Korea. It wasn't a clear day, but it was still cool. For dinner we ate authentic Korean food. They cook the food on a hotplate type thing in the center of the table. You take a piece of lettuce, put rice on it, then a piece of meat on top. You ball up the lettuce and stuff the whole thing into your mouth. The rule is you have to do it all in one bite. I was unsure about it at first but it ended up being fun. It ended up pouring on our walk home and we got soaked.

In the morning we went to a closing ceremony at the school. Everyone was so nice. It was good to see where Nikki and Allen have been for the past 4 years. For lunch there was pizza from Dominos. Some of it tastes like American pizza but some of it had different things on corn. We did the Seoul City bus tour. Our first stop was an old Korean village. It was cool even though it wasn't authentic. The streets were lined with buses of police officers. There were so many of them. It turned out that Koreans are protesting against Americans importing beef. We just signed a treaty with S.Korea for free trade and the USA will sell their beef for less. This will be a hardship for local farmers. It was a bit scary when we saw a truck filled with soldiers drive by. The protesting impacted our tour because things were blocked our closed down early. We ended up walking instead. We went to a market that was a lot of fun. I bought a few things. We decided to eat outside of the market rather than go for the slugs and hooves they were selling at the market.

In the morning, Nikki and I went to a real Asian spa. We went into hot rooms and one cold room. The cold room was cool because there was ice on the ceiling and walls. I wasn't brave enough to do the naked rooms. I felt too self conscious and it just wouldn't have been fun for me. We went into the pool for awhile. It was so nice and so empty. There was a waterfall at the end. I really enjoyed it. After the spa, Nikki, Allen, and I made the long journey to the ferry port because I was going to be shipped to China (Jess I thought about you and "We're being shipped to Africa" a lot). My boat ended up leaving 5 hours late (10:30 p.m. instead of 5:30) so we were really early. Nikki and Allen left and I waited to board (we could board at 6:05). While I waited I was approached by several people who wanted to speak in English. I was one of three non-Asians on the entire boat. I was stared at by all. I felt like I was the main attraction or something....So I met one group of kids....I think high schoolers. I ended up talking to them for awhile. It was entertaining at least and helped the time pass quickly. On my way into boarding the ship, I met a guy who wanted to help me check my large bag. He started taking it outside so I got scared and grabbed it from him. The baggage check ended up being outside, but I thought he was taking my bag. I felt bad, but I couldn't do anything about it because he left. On ship I went to my bed. It was a bunk bed with my own storage and curtain for privacy. It wasn't too bad. I waited for the ship to take off. I wrote in my journal and was approached by several viejo verdes. One even sat down with me and interrupted my quiet by talking on his cell phone and smoking. He seemed to want to know how old I was because he wrote 30 in my journal. He was definitely trying to pick me up. Yeah gross. The ship wasn't too bad but was so long (I ended being on that thing for 18 1/2 hours). I also felt really lonely. It's weird because I am usually a loner. However, there is something lonely about being on a ship in a foreign land where no one looks like you or knows your language. The announcements were all in Korean and Chinese and I didn't have a watch. I had no clue what was going on or a clue of the time. I felt so isolated.

I finally made it to China. The boat was supposed to arrive at 9 a.m. Then it was scheduled to arrive at 1:30 p.m. We arrived at 2:30 p.m. but weren't allowed off the ship until 3 p.m. I actually saw the boy from the day before (the one who wanted to be nice and carry my bag but I pounced on him :)). We ended up hanging out for awhile and I was able to redeem myself. His name was Monday (in English anyway). He was very nice and cute too :). We got separated at customs before we were able to exchange email addresses. Too bad. I was detained at customs for quite awhile. Apparently they didn't give me enough hassle in the States when I went to get my visa :). They were freaked out about my Spain visa from 6 years ago for some reason. I had to wait some more. Then I went into a little room where I had to unpack everything in my suitcase. I also had to explain what it was or what it was used for. They were freaked out by my Tylenol. They even looked at the pictures on my camera and READ MY JOURNAL!!!!!!! I have no idea what they were expecting to find. It was almost amusing even though I was really annoyed. I finally made it out of there. By the time I got to Marc it was about 4:30. I felt bad because he had to wait for 3 hours. I was so overwhelmed when I made it through the gate that it took away the excitement of seeing Marc. The rest of the day we just hung out and talked. We also went to his friend Jo's apartment. She has a really nice place with a view.

I went to school with Marc. The kids are so cute. He does such a great job teaching them. It was fun because I've never seen him teach before. The kids get so excited to see him. I was surprised how much those preschoolers know. It seems like a lot more is expected out of them than is in the U.S. I got to help out a bit during some of the lessons but I mostly just watched. It was a lot of fun. Marc had a meeting so I walked on the beach. It was really nice but a little drizzly. For dinner, two of his Chinese co-workers took us out for Chinese at a place called Dumplings. The food was really good. The only thing I didn't like was the dish of pig ligaments and joints. It tasted fine but the texture was gross. It was crunchy and you could imagine what you were eating. His co-workers were so sweet and I had a really good time.

On Tuesday, I ventured out on my own for the first time. I was really scared because very few people speak English. I imagined myself lost and alone and being unable to find Marc ever again. We made arrangements to meet at a certain spot at 5 p.m. I set off on my adventure. I took a bus for awhile and then walked forever. I saw a lot of Qingdao's coastline. It was beautiful. I got to see a little castle with beautiful scenery. There were rocks and cliffs and of course water. It was incredible. There were a bunch of brides getting their pictures taken even though it was misty. I walked on the seaside path and saw amazing scenery. I really enjoyed it. Along the way, I was stopped by a Chinese couple who wanted their picture taken with me because I was a foreigner. I felt like Minne Mouse at Disney World. Can you imagine someone doing that in the USA? The amount of staring and talking about you is so much worse than it is in Spain. I was very surprised. I thought Spain was bad at the time but being here is far worse. So my journey along the seaside path was fun until it started to rain. I was wet, had blisters on my toes, was tired of walking, and became cranky. I finally met up with Marc and we met up with his friend Jo. We had a lot of fun together. We ate Chinese and then went to Haagen-Daas for dessert. They have a sit down place where they actually serve you. It was cool but expensive. After the ice cream we went for foot massages. That was a fun and different experience. I felt very pampered afterwards. Jo is really nice and we got along well. I had a great day.

I decided to sleep in because Marc only had a half day. After he finished work, we met up with another friend of his (Stephanie) from England. We walked along the water and then decided to take a boat ride. It was a lot of fun. We then went for gelato....Yummy. Stephanie had to leave us soon after the gelato. Marc and I decided to go up the TV tower in Qingdao. We ate at the restaurant at the top. The food wasn't great, but it was really cheap and had a great view. We got to see the view at sunset. It was pretty cool. The city lights slowly came on as we were on the observation deck. We got to see the tower lit up. It was cool. We walked down the hill a bit and then took a taxi to get more gelato. At home, we worked on planning our weekend. Things didn't go exactly as we planned but we are still leaving for Shanghai tonight.

My trip has been great so far. The experience has the study abroad feel to it. I really like it because some of my best times were when I studied abroad. Well that's all for now. I may not get a chance to blog again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I made it

I just wanted to let y'all know that I made it safely to Korea. I came in yesterday afternoon (Wed in Korea) so today is my first full day in Korea. It is fun being here with Nikki and Allen and seeing where they have been for the last few years. So I wanted y'all to know that I am safe and stay tuned..........I will try to blog a bit when I am here.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

How did I end up on "Judge Judy"?

I walked into my afternoon meeting thinking I wouldn't look professional due to paint all over me. Little did I know that was the least of my worries. I thought it would be a nice easy meeting, 30 minutes max. I was wrong as the half hour turned into 2 hours. The meeting seemed like a custody disagreement between a divorced couple. They kept on arguing about a lot of different issues that have nothing to do with the kid's speech and language issues. It made me so sad to sit in that meeting and see how they treated each other. They were once a couple in love who planned on spending their lives together. How did it come to this? The sad part is that the kids are the ones who suffer. The kids will grow up in that environment and be witnesses to that kind of relationship........How incredibly sad.

"You look like a snowman!!"

One of my 3 year-olds told me this after a bottle of white paint had exploded all over me..........and I mean ALL OVER ME. Then the other kid decided to help out by dumping the rest of the bottle all over the table and himself. What a mess........seriously. I wish my camera worked so I could document the mess for y'all. I have paint all over my hair, face, shirt, hands, arms, legs, etc. It is everywhere in my therapy room too. I really have no clue how it happened. It was a surreal experience. The paint bottle exploded like a bomb......and it definitely left it's impact.......Thankfully I have a meeting tonight and no time to change......:). So much for professional :).