OK, here it is. The last post. Probably.

Posted in Uncategorized on January 22, 2010 by jenniferautumn

So, you have probably noticed by now that I have been back state-side for about a month.   I knew that I owed you, and myself, a final post.  I was waiting until something truly genius struck me, something profound that would wrap up my experience nicely and leave all of us satisfied of its completion.  Unfortunately, this inspiration has never hit me.

I think perhaps this has more to do with a problem with my First Premise in writing this.  The idea that I begin with that all other ideas much flow in the logic of.  My erroneous First Premise was that the experience was over, and I could write about its finishing.  I found that this is erroneous because before I even thought about writing this last post, before I had even settled back into my apartment in Denver, I was already contemplating ways to get back to China.  Yesterday I spent an hour looking at programs for me to go back and teach English in the summer.  No luck, because it’s hard to tell whats legit and what is not, so if you know of a reputable program, please let me know.  But my China experience is not over.

The good news is that my Chinese professor was impressed with my language ability, so perhaps I did pick something up while I was there.

Well, here’s my obligatory summary of the things I do not miss:

* spitting

*general lack of sanitation

*bargaining

*hour commute to work

*pollution

*lack of a car

*etc.

And the things that I am glad to have back:

*dairy

*coffee

*English (mostly)

*reunions with friends (the ones that are back anyways)

*DU classes and professors, whose quality is so far unmatched

*car, slash general freedom

*internet (which would have been even worse if I had stayed, if you have been following the news at all)

*etc.

And things that I miss from China:

*friends on the program

*adventures

*cheapness of everything (I can’t even afford groceries here)

*my internship

*learning the language

*our regular bars and clubs

*etc.

There is nothing profound whatsoever in those lists, if you have been following my blog thus far none of it will be new to you.

I have settled back in with some reverse culture shock.  It took me until now really to get my head around being back.  I forgot all the passwords and number codes I should have remembered, how to drive (mostly.  actually the battery in my car died, like not no juice but actually kaput, so it wasn’t really me who couldn’t drive but I couldn’t figure that out), how to spell and speak normal English (it took me a few minutes to figure out why shood was spelled wrong), to switch back to English for my commonly used phrases,  to quit being sad when I made jokes in Chinese and no one understood or cared, and even to use a fork and knife again.

But I am glad to be back.  I am old enough to legally obtain alcohol now, so that’s been nice.  Most of my friends are either leaving to be abroad or still are abroad, so it’s been quiet.   I am searching for a job so I don’t have to put groceries on my credit card again.  I have started my English major and so far so good.  And I have been having fun looking at everyone else’s pictures and stories from their travels.

So, this is it.  Your final wrap up of this trip.  It’s over.  I feel like it was so long ago that I started this blog, packing all my clothes into space bags and wondering what new things would come into my life, expecting great change, and being terrified.  I am a different person now., but none of those feelings have changed.  This was the experience of a lifetime though I expect many more to come.  I have enjoyed blogging for you what I could, and hearing from you all as well.  I will continue blogging about my doings, either here or elsewhere, I haven’t decided.  For now, I am just settling into my new life again.

Well, this is it.  Goodbye, and good luck.  再见。

Study Trip

Posted in Uncategorized on December 16, 2009 by jenniferautumn

The study trip we went on was probably the best part of the program.  We saw so many things and had so much fun doing it.  It was crazy though, for two weeks we traveled with tiny suitcases by train, plane, and foot, never staying in the same place longer than two nights, seeing some of the most famous sites in China.   I was not disappointed; I admit that I was a little wary since up until this point my experience with Chinese cultural sites is that they are full of peddlers, beggars, trash, and smell like urine.  But these much improved my opinion.  I marked many things off my life to do list.

First we went to Luoyang and saw a performance at the Shaolin temple (you know, all the monks in orange robes who do martial arts) and the White Horse temple, the oldest Buddhist temple in China.  The next day we went to the Longmen grottoes, which are caves in a large rock cliff that are full of hundreds of Buddhas carved into the rock.

Our next stop was Chengdu, where we visited the panda reserve.  While it took some lobbying we were able to hold a red panda.  It was extremely cute.  They gave it apples to munch on so it would be happy while it posed with all of us.  We also saw an ancient irrigation project in Chengdu which without the use of dams had been responsible for both curing the region of flooding and making Sichuan the most productive agricultural in ancient China.

Our next stop was Xian, home of the terra cotta soldiers.  I don’t know what else to say on this one, it was exactly as impressive as you imagine it would be.

Guilin was probably my favorite area we went to.  We spent several days here, traveling around the region.  We climbed to the Longji terraces (our hotel was literally an hour hike up a mountains, on wet slippery rocks) and spent a couple days getting lost hiking to different villages.  We then traveled to the Li River and took bamboo rafts (legitimate bamboo rafts, like four pieces of bamboo latched together with a chair on top).  On our following free day some of us hired a small car to go to the place where the photo on the back of the 20 kuai bill was taken.

The people on our line were fantastic.  We all got along well together and made up games to keep ourselves entertained.  The line was divided into two groups to make it easier to keep people together, and I and another guy were assigned as group leaders.  I, of course, instantly dubbed us Red Squadron and Blue Squadron, and the group leaders Red Eagle and Blue Eagle.  Everyone had nicknames and we developed competitions between the two groups.  Our nights were filled with card games and beer (we kept trying to go out but somehow always managed not to lol), and our days started early and always had lots to do.

After two weeks the trip was over (tear) we returned to Beijing for our last day in China.

My Ode to Starbucks

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27, 2009 by jenniferautumn

Oh Starbucks, we’ve had such a tumultuous relationship.
I haven’t given you the respect you deserve.
I used to avoid you because of the appeal of locally owned, organic alternatives.
I used to scorn you.
But things will be different now, I promise.
Never again will I look down upon you.
When I was lost in a country whose language I could not speak, and who’s endless tea I could not stomach, you were the only one there for me.
The smell of your coffee, perfume.
The taste, the taste.
Sweet ambrosia, nectar of my life.
The mornings we spent together were magical.
Toffee nut latte.
Dark cherry mocha.
Coffee.
I don’t care if no native on this continent has been “eagerly awaiting” your holiday flavors as you so hopefully proclaim.
I have.
Oh, Starbucks, I will never forget the kindness you have shown me on my journey.
I love you, Starbucks, and I don’t care who knows it.

在中国。。。we celebrate Thanksgiving with ten hours of finals and Beijing roast duck!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 26, 2009 by jenniferautumn

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

It’s been harder than I thought to be gone for so many holidays and big developments.  Thanks to all of you who have kept in touch with me on the other side of the world.

I have just finished my last final, successfully wrapping up my semester at Peking University.  Don’t ask how they went, it was painful.  Yay pass/fail!  I will be very happy to be back at DU with my favorite professors.

My last day at my internship was on Wednesday.  Actually, through a miscalculation I didn’t actually have to go in on Wednesday, but had forgotten to pick up my evaluation form from my boss, so made the hour trip, picked up my things, then came an hour back.  Lol.  Oops.  The journal I have been working on was printed finally, so I picked up a copy of that too.  It is very exciting to have our names on the inside cover of an international policy journal.  I may frame a copy.  If you want autographs, hit up my people.😉

It has been a very busy week (I know, I know, have I ever posted a blog that said, oh I’m so bored I have nothing to do…?!).  I had five or six papers due, finals to study for, places to visit for the last time…  But now it’s done and I’ve more or less survived!  We leave tomorrow night for the two week study trip, which we are all very excited for, then are back in Beijing for a day, then HOME.  I have greatly enjoyed my experience here and have learned so much that I never would have otherwise, but I am now completely firm in my belief that the United States is the best place in the world.

The program took pity on us for missing some of the holidays, and has arranged for us to go to a big dinner tonight.  We are going to a Peking roast duck restaurant.  Thanksgiving, China style :)  I had a brief feeling of sadness at not getting turkey, but then I realized this is a much more appropriate way to celebrate while in China.  When else can I celebrate Thanksgiving in China in a Chinese restaurant with Chinese people eating a famous Chinese dish?  Lol.  So I’m excited.  I’ve had duck before here and it is scrumptious.

It will also be the last time I see some of the friends I’ve made here, since they are on different study trips and might not be back in Beijing the same time I am.  So it will be bittersweet.

The rough itinerary of our study trip is at  <http://www.studyabroad-china.net/study%20trips.html&gt; I’m going on the red line.  It will include the terra cotta soldiers, the panda reserve, amazing scernery, etc.  My boss said that Longsheng was his favorite place in China, so that is exciting.  I can’t wait to see more of China than just the NE corner.

Well, my finals started yesterday at 9am and I just finished a couple hours ago (10am the next day!), so I think it’s nap and shower time.

Before I leave, here is proof that I am making the face mask trend catch on amongst us non-Chinese:

What I’ve been up to… And more excuses for why I’m not blogging.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 24, 2009 by jenniferautumn

Number one excuse:  It’s finals week.

Now on to what I’ve been up to.

Last Saturday we went to the Olympic Park, and saw the bird’s nest and watercube.  Actually, the watercube was closed so we literally just saw it.  The bird’s nest we toured.  It is, in fact, huge.  And looks like a bird’s nest.  Really it’s exactly the same as it looks on T.V.  We’ve driven by it a hundred times on our ways out, but this time I got pictures.

Afterwards, we went to tea street and enjoyed some tea ceremonies.  We were educated on the ways of tea (in Chinese though, so I don’t promise that I actually understood anything), drank lots and lots, and then made some purchases.

Sunday I spent all day at an internet cafe working on papers.  Monday, I went to work, then spent the rest of the night working on papers.  Tuesday, I….  am at an internet cafe, supposedly working on papers but really blogging.  Notice the theme?

Saturday is my last day in Beijing, after that we are taking a two week study trip around Southern China — visiting the terra cotta soldiers and panda reserves and such — and then back home, to eat so much cheese and coffee it’s disgusting.

And yes, if you’ve noticed from the pictures, I’ve taken another step in sinofication by wearing a face mask.  Not just for health, but also fashionable.  And, it keeps my face warm.  Win.

 

Pub Golf ~ Lucky 21

Posted in Uncategorized on November 17, 2009 by jenniferautumn

Well, as many of you know, Sunday was my birthday.  21 to be exact.  Now, again you naiive readers may be asking yourselves, how does one celebrate a 21 birthday in China, where there is no discernible drinking age and therefore no novelty?  False.  We are American college students, and therefore where there is any excuse, there is a monster party.

I, with the help of another girl who had a birthday a few days ago, organized a big game of pub golf for the program.  For those of you unfamiliar with pub golf, as I was until organizing the game, you find find one version of the rules at <http://idios.co.uk/> and here is the  scorecard I made to give you an idea what it looks like:

Pub Golf Scorecard

Well, the game went fantastically.  About 30 people showed up to play, and at least half of them made it to the last “hole”.  It was a lot of fun.  Spending the night running around Beijing, drinking and hanging out with my favorite people in China – what better way to greet another year?

Thanks for all the birthday wishes from everyone who sent them ~ via email, facebook, skype, card, phone, etc.  I was a bit overwhelmed logging onto anything that day, there were so many!

Today the program bought me and Eric (who’s birthday is today) giant cakes with fantastic Chinese-y exploding fire candles.   So, considering that we started pub golf last Saturday night, officially was on Sunday, which is actually on Monday due to the time change in the States,  I think my birthday has been continuously been celebrated for four days now.  I’m so spoiled.

Unfortunately, that also means I have not written my term papers like I should have!  Time to get back to work.  I have another three papers due next week, in combination with the big one I turned in last week, and then finals are next Thursday.  Ughhhh.  I cannot believe I am only in Beijing another week and a half. (Then off on a two week study trip, which will be so much fun)(but finals first, which are not so fun).  My last day at my internship is next Wednesday, which is almost perfect actually because we just sent the issue we’re been working on since I arrived to print, and we should have it by then so I can snag a copy.  Ok, well enough about leaving, I will write another post about that!

Here are a few pictures from pub golf:

The Cat Whisperers

Posted in Uncategorized on November 7, 2009 by jenniferautumn

Since I arrived I noticed that there are dozens and dozens of stray cats around campus.  I, being a cat person, loved this since it felt like I still kind of had pets here.  I always in the back of my mind wondered how they sustained themselves, but just accepted the fact.

Well, a couple days ago I found the answer.  In addition to cats, the campus is also inhabited by cat whisperers.  More specifically, what I believe is happening is that there is a club on campus that goes around, feeding, watering and sheltering the kitties.  I discovered this fact when a friend and I stumbled onto a cat village, where the cat whisperers had built a dozen little kitties houses and go around feeding them in between classes.  We were playing with the cats when all of a sudden a man appeared and all the cats immediately ran to him.  He then dropped food for them.  We thought he was just a good samaritan, until we found similar food piles surrounded by cats again, and again, and agian.

I have dubbed them the cat whisperers, and have found a new love for the Beida campus.