Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Second blog post- Our first week in China

Monday Sept 10 (but really 16th. I had no time to write this before so I’m writing it now. Shhhh)

 That was such a super fun and exciting plane ride we ZZzzzzzzz……

I apologize for my fragmented and confusing blog post. It was really late at night and I was half asleep when I wrote it. My plan was to write out what happened and after I got some sleep I would fix the problems. Where my plan fell apart was after we landed in Hong Kong and there was Wifi, Brodie quickly posted both blog entries when I was off in the bathroom, completely oblivious until it was to late.

After we landed and got off the plane the five of us  (Allayna, Kelly, Tomi, Brodie and I) met with Paul and Mark (Mark is the manager/teacher at Dong Shan Kou (sounds like don shang ko) and I think Paul is the manager of all the training centers. He works for ACT (the place that trains teachers) and he works for CIEO (the place that employs teachers).
            We all went on to a bus that the school owned and drove us to our garden (the gated community that we live, they call them gardens because there are plants EVERYWHERE!! There’re plants living outside here that I’ve seen in indoor gardens at home. That is very strange to me).
We had the choice between a four bedroom house and a three bedroom house. Two people would live in the three bedroom house and the other three would live in the four bedroom house. Brodie and I got the three bedroom house to ourselves (yay) and Kelly, Allayna and Tomi got the four bedroom house.
We basically walked through the doors, tore through our luggage (gently, we gently tore through our luggage), found our PJ's and went to bed, leaving behind a huge mess everywhere.

Recap of the rest of the week.

Tuesday Sept 11 (or is it?)
Got lost and wandered around down town Guangzhou for hours trying to find the kindergarten because we were 10 minutes late for meeting the group at the bus and they left without us- the day was surprisingly fun :) got to meet some new people from the training centres like Eve our Chinese language teacher. A little old lady who didn't speak a word of English tried to explain where the sub way was and ended up walking us four blocks to get to it, she was so awesome! 

Wednesday Sept 12
Went to new training center Taojin.... not my favourite school to be at.

Thursday Sept 13
Started Chinese classes. re-met Eve and our 2-ish hour break time ended abruptly because Chinese classes took up the time.

Friday Sept 14
Went to another new training center Tianhe (sounds like Tea-and-huh). Definitely my favourite training centre to go to. They have real toilets! :D.

Saturday Sept 15
Had a full day at the training center with Chino and Adam (managers of the training centres). Ended the day at 6:20 instead of 8:30 which was so nice.

Sunday Sep 16 (finally writing this on the day it happened)

Wait what?! Sunday? I thought it was Saturday!

It is now 8pm and I am just now remembering its Sunday. It’s scary how on the ball I am :P.
Last night we planned to sleep in till noon because we’ve been waking up at 6am and getting to sleep at 10pm,. By itself is not really that big of a deal, but we had to run to catch the bus (our house is probably 4 times as far from the front gate as the rest of the groups house), depending on the day/time catch either another bus or a subway train, get to the school before 7:30 and watch a kindergarten or training center, then go to the subway and head for the next school which is the training center, either sit in on a class and participate in running a game or write notes about the class for home work or get the how-to-teach-English class, that ends at 8:30. After all that we make our way home and crash.
So I tried to watch The Avengers on my laptop (thank you Dad and Jory for getting it to work J) but we only managed to watch half of it before falling asleep. Brodie’s new cell phone kept getting scam phone calls really early in the morning and then the alarm that Allana had put on it so that it would wake us up (Friday we slept in because our alarm was confusing and Brodie and I at different points in the night managed to make it go off at midnight and then not go off at all, we weren’t late for classes though) it went off at around 6am and she kept hitting snooze because she couldn’t get it to stop all together, so she turned it off and went to bed.
   Tomi, Kelly and I all had nightmares last night for some reason which was bizzare to me.
I forgot it was the day of rest so Brodie and I took the day off of school, home work and traveling by scrubbing and tidying our house. We found some cleaning supplies in our house like ‘Mr. Muscle” which I assume is the Mr. Clean knock-off and some Pledge for the hard wood floors. OH! We have hard wood floors :D and there’s a three step thing made of marble stuff leading from the living room up to the rest of the house, they are really pretty! Anyway we ran out of pledge after I cleaned two of the bedrooms and half the hallway, and Brodie wanted kitchen stuff and a phone card because she barely had money on her phone.
So we walked down five flights of stairs out the door and realized how hot and sunny it was, turned around, walked back up the five flights of stairs, got hats and an umbrella (thanks Gramma Shirley J), and went back down the stairs. If we leave the front gate to our garden and walk across the street then there are a row of stores, so that's what we did. There was a  7 eleven (which are EVERYWHERE, and a fast food restaurant called Kungfu. We have two directions to two different schools that tell us to find a kungfu place.). 7 eleven is where we were told to buy new phone cards.
Then we found a small convenient store that we bought cleaning supplies, another cloth, a mop and plastic bowl to put dirty laundry in (but we changed our minds and used it to wash dishes. I hope it doesn’t melt :S)
The check out lady spoke zero English (or she’s faking it ) and gestured to ask if we wanted a plastic bag (which we have to pay for. Go environmental people!) and I always either forget to bring those small fabric bags that fold up (sorry gramma) or have no room to be able to bring them, so I said sure for the plastic bag. Brodie chirped in then and tried to say we had one (because of course NOW she brings the fabric bag) but the lady didn’t hear or (or wasn’t listening :P) and used the plastic bag. Both Brodie and I sighed in defeat and left the store.
We got home and tried to get the phone card to work. Brodie made it so far with the directions that the phone person gave her but got stuck. So we decided that we wanted to call Mark (because he is the guy who helped us actually get the phone because he’s awesome :P) but the spare phone we got last Monday was with Alana at the other house. So we walked to the other house and called Mark. Actually we called a wrong number the first time thinking it was Mark and started throwing questions at this poor Chinese guy who had no idea what she was asking. After we figured that out and called Mark Brodie figured out the problem she had with the phone card and got the money to work (yay). The plan for Sunday was to watch Ollie’s football game (soccer not American football) but Brodie and I wanted to finish cleaning so we didn’t go, and it turns out there was a riot downtown where the football game was so the rest of the group stayed home as well (lucky decision making on our part, eh?).
When Brodie and I got home we were doing laundry and discovered that our newly clean and dry cloths felt stiff and weird so we went back to the store again to get laundry detergent. We ended up buying the laundry detergent and a scrub brush, a giant Pepsi (so we could just fill glasses with pop instead of buying small Pepsi bottles), noodles (yay), rice (yay) and chicken flavored seasoning (less yay). We brought the stuff to the counter and the checkout lady laughed when she saw us again. She asked if we wanted a plastic bag and Brodie almost screamed NO! whipped out the fabric bag and finished her presentation with a “Ta-da!” and the checkout lady laughed again. There was an old lady standing behind us when we were buying our stuff, she pointed at something on the counter and gave us a thumbs up. Brodie thought that was awesome, we had something in our pile of stuff that had been a good choice (whether that was the big bag of rice or the chopsticks, I don’t know). Then the old lady helped us by holding onto one of the handle of the fabric bag while Brodie had the other one (I didn’t see this happening because I was looking for my wallet. That old lady was so nice J, makes living here really nice too.
We went home and heard about the riot. Then invited everyone to our house for trying out these new noodles and seeing if they’re any good. We had pizza at their house last night so its fair, and Kelly was the only one that's actually seen our house while Brodie and I have seen their house twice.
We made the noodles by heating up water (In a kettle we bought and used for the first time today :D) and poured it into a bowl (or a cup), put the noodles in the bowl and poured in the seasoning. Very simple. Though we noticed the seasoning smelled kinda peppery. The noodles tasted very bland… like VERY bland. Almost like there wasn’t anything in the water at all. We read the package of seasoning again and Kelly pointed out that this wasn’t chicken flavored seasoning, but that it was actually seasoning for flavoring a roasted chicken >.<
 Wow I feel dumb. So we ended up ordering pizza again and ate that instead.

Lesson learned. Don’t be dyslexic when buying food J.

Still have to finish my homework. I had a sheet of paper on the second day that explained how we’re supposed to make a journal entry, but when I get home I’m too tired to do homework, let alone read the sheet. So I thought I knew what it said but I was sorely mistaken, Darn. Every week we need to hand in a journal entry about each class we saw, what we liked, what we didn’t, and why. we needed three things about each one of those things PER TEACHER. I thought we needed to talk about three teacher >.<  again, DARN!! So my workload has gotten bigger so I’m going to stop Blogging and get back to work.
Well I was told that tomorrow the Internet people are coming so we’ll finally be able to skype and post these blog updates! Fingers crossed that it actually works out.
Thanks for reading (even though most of it was talking about cleaning and shopping)

Makenzie (which is a name that most of the kids can not pronounce)

Oh PS! our curtisart and hotmail accounts are not working so we made a gmail account. if you're wanting to say hi just ask my parents for the new email address :) thanks. 

OMG I love you guys XD that was the best post ever from the Fivelands!!! I miss you guys so much... and oddly enough I keep seeing Chinese version of people I know 0.o so far there's been Mom, Dad, Jory, Jayden (he was like a mirror image it was so freaky. I'd take a picture to show you but none of my cameras are currently working and it would seem a bit strange to randomly take a picture of one of the students lol), a little girl that reminded me of Kalei, and the funniest one has got to be the Paul look alike I saw today (to those who don't know, Paul is the manager for the ACT training program we're in. he also works for CIEO which is the school that this program was made for), but the Chinese guy had a big gut like Paul, same almost shaved head, glasses, messenger bag, black shirt and blue jeans, the way he talked on his cellphone and his goofy walk, was identical. I almost fell over laughing, it was awesome.
    There're some random things that I had to get used to,living in china, that I didn't see coming. Like daily showers. Normally I would have a shower every second or third day (basically when my hair started to get greasy) but here its pretty much mandatory to wash your hair at least once a day. Yesterday I washed my hair in the morning and by the time I got home after walking around in the smog and sweating like a pig, it looked like it hadn't been washed in a week....gross. But it turns out that I am freaking lazy, and procrastinate every second I can before having ANOTHER shower XP.
    I made a buddy here (not as good as my buddies back home of course) but he's pretty awesome. his name is Nick and he teaches at the kindergarten that we go to everyday in the morning. it's funny, I don't know if he was always like this or if it happened after being around kids who barely speak English, but he enunciates every sentence he says. it's very difficult to not understand what he says. I love his class, they know me because I watched a few of his classes my first week, and the kids call me teacher Brodie (I've noticed that its a tad difficult for older people to say my name, but not little kids. The older kids and some of the adults call me birdy, boring, brolly, bosley and a bunch of stuff like that, but the 5 year olds say it perfectly lol) I've been having fun texting Nick and I found out that he's a huge nerd with science fiction, monster movies and shows, anime, and dungeons and dragons XD. and he reminds me of a hippy sometimes, like the other day we were talking about the China/Japan fight going on right now, his opinion of it was  "I believe hate is a disease and China and Japan fighting is making it spread."..... I have fun conversations with nick lol.
    It's been nuts down here. We wake up at either 5:30am or 6:00am, meet 3 out of 4 of the rest of the group (Oliver's lived in china for years so he doesn't live in the supplied housing like the rest of us, and just meets us at the kindergarten)  by the front gates of our garden (that's what the gated communities are called) by 7:30am. Take 2 buses to the kindergarten and watch and participate in a class (each of us gets a different teacher) until lunch time and go have lunch (lunch is from 11:30am to 12:30pm) then go to one of 3 training centers (after school program English schools). We have a Chinese lesson until 1:30pm. (small break till 2:30pm or 3:30pm if it's thu. or fri.) then either Paul, Jody, Mark or Adam (all managers for schools) teach us a CIEO teaching theory, basically how to properly teach English to Chinese children. We do that until 4:00pm (5:00pm on thu. and fri.) and have a dinner break till 6:00pm, and then we watch some night classes (in the training centers there are less teachers so 2 of us go with each teacher). Then we finish the class at 8:30 (weekends the kindergartens closed so we spend the whole day watching the training center classes and finish at 6:00pm). When we take the metro home and walk the two or three blocks between the metro and our house, it's about 9:30pm. so we try to do some homework (which we get with the theory class), have a shower (blehhh) and try to go to sleep before it gets late so we can wake up at 5:30am the next day and start all over again.....
    I'd like to feel sorry for myself and have people feel bad for me, but the truth is being a kid in China is a hundred times worse than what I'm going through this month. a typical Chinese student will have normal school, then about 5 extra curricular activities like more English classes, and Chinese and math classes BEFORE even coming to the training center. then they have to do their homework in the tiny amount of time they have to be home, and they can't just do it on the weekend because they have more extra curricular stuff on weekends (this is by the parents by the way, its not self inflicted). and on top of that the pressure to get a good mark is ridiculous, kids have gotten a beating for bringing home 97% on a report card.... its hard to tell whether Chinese parents love or hate their kids. it's not like they just decided one day that they wanted to work their kids to death for no reason. basically, there are sooo many people in china, that there are very limited jobs and they're extremely competitive. Adam explained it like, if you don't get into a good kindergarten you wont get into a good primary school, you wont get into a good high school, you wont get into a good college, and you wont get a good job, and if you don't get a good job your F*&%$#!!! a 6 year old broke down in Adams class last week because he asked her if she did the homework  (he doesn't hand out serious homework for kids because their stressed as it is. If there's homework to do it's like an extra bonus. He wont dock points but if they do it he'll give them funny-money that they can cash in once a month for erasers and notebooks and stuff. But it's in no way mandatory for them to complete any homework, and he was mostly joking around with her about it, but she took it seriously and cried).
    So on that note lets change things to a funnier topic. Oliver. He's the only member of our group who's not from Canada, but instead from Australia. He was born in Taiwan I think and his family traveled around a lot and finally came to China. He's hilariously serious all the time- when we first met he was kind of a jerk to everyone and didn't seem to want anything to do with us, but now he's warmed up to the group and come out of his shell, he's actually pretty funny becaaaaaaauuuuuuse.... he's Germaphobic living in hina HA! XD it's like someone who's scared of water living in Hawaii lol. he constantly gets grossed out by things falling on the floor or people touching stuff like railings or handle things on the train. It's really funny when we bug him about that (we do it all the time, every time there's something disgusting or somewhat gross, we tell Oliver) he always makes this silly disgusted expression that makes everyone laugh. The other day Tomi (toe-me) dropped her water bottle on the bus and it rolled under Oliver's seat and he didn't want to give it back to her because of all the germs on the bus floor (even though 99.9% of what touches her mouth is underneath the lid). So we had a good laugh. I have a theory that Oliver gets back at us by convincing us to try gross food every once and a while (he might legitimately like this gross crap, but I think he's messing with us lol). The only problem is that Oli is starting to rub off on us. We all carry around hand sanitizer, and if one of us whips it out, there's a small line up of us wanting some to clean our hands- we're like gum vultures in high school lol.
    And the last thing Ii want to talk about tonight; I will never understand why China sees fit to chew their drinks. Iif it doesn't have pulp, they add gummy chewy crap that serves no purpose except to piss me off when I'm drinking juice lol. So far pop and some juices are safe. I'm getting good at spotting the non-chewy drinks.
    Goodnight All, I love and miss everybody, and can't wait to be able to keep in touch better once this month is over.
    I'll talk to you guys later, Brodie

Monday, September 10, 2012

first post, written during the flight

Okay finally starting my first blog entry. Note to self, cut my nails because it hurts to type XP. While writing this I’m actually still on the plane, there isn't internet up here as you can imagine and I’m writing on a word document on my laptop. Later I’ll copy and paste this on the blog.
            Right now it would be 5:56pm in Canada, but since I have no idea where we are right now (although we see land for the first time in hours) and we’re chasing the sun and at the moment I’m to lazy to do the math, I have no clue what time it is where I am…. TURBULENCE!...........anyway, so far the trip has been fantastic. We showed up an hour later than ….TURBULENCE!.... We planned to and only managed to get through the first line up to check our bags because our flight was leaving soon and we got to skip the last of the line. Security screening was extremely fast and everyone was very pleasant. One lady started joking that she thought my shiny flip-flops would set off the alarms lol.
            I was really choked up saying goodbye to everyone and it took all of my self-control not to cry, (although I think I failed a bit. Gramma may have gotten some tears in that last picture she took.) I tried to say bye and that I love you all, but I was so choked up that I couldn’t talk. Thank you so much for the letters and text, the clothes and care packages and all the love and help that everyone has given us. We have the best family and friends in the world J

Ok either we’re landing or we’re going through so much turbulence that we need our seatbelts on 0.o

The flight from Edmonton to Vancouver made me laugh because you always hear about how flights tend to be delayed and all the bad weather. When we took off the pilot told us the weather was perfect and we were leaving right on time. We arrived in Vancouver on time as well, and the weather wasn’t that bad there either, although it was way more cloudy.
            I realized on that flight that that Alberta looks like a giant quilt, with all the fields and yards in perfect squares. It also looks like a poorly made diagram of the countryside lol. The closer we came to Vancouver the cloudier it got. Pretty soon you couldn’t even see the sky. But mountains would poke up from the huge white carpet. It was sooo cool. I really think dad would love to see the mountains from above.
            When we were flying in Alberta still, the cars looked smaller than ants, they were like fruit flys or mites. I could barely see them.
            We met up with the rest of the group. Kelly we ran in to just before we got on the plane. He was wearing a white button up shirt, black pants and dark sunglasses so from the corner of my eye I thought he was a pilot lol. In Vancouver we met up with two more girls, one’s named Tomi and I think the other is named Allie (its definitely an A name) that last guy who was supposed to come never showed up so we assume he missed his flight. So now I’m even happier that we have horseshoes up our asses with this flight thing lol. Tomi does a lot of traveling and has only heard about CIEO for a few weeks, and Allie is the youngest one here (although Tomi was in the bathroom when we had that conversation so I don't know how old she is). We all walked through the Vancouver airport to find our gate and when we found it we ran into a girl who did this last year and is back now (and it turns out that Kelly was sitting beside her for the whole flight). She told us a whole bunch of stuff about the school and how it works and everything. Unfortunately I only heard half of it because the announcements kept drowning out her voice. But I did manage to hear that the school charges you tuition money for the first 6 months I think, which they didn't mention.
            On and the other girls had the same problems with communicating with Steve as we did, so at least we’re not the only ones.
            The plane flying to Hong Kong is freaking enormous. The first flight had two sections of seats with two rows on each side. This one has three sections on seats, each with three rows of seats and the rows go well past 60 sets. During the first flight we were in seats 22 I think, and were right behind the wing. Now we’re in seats 54 I think, and are in the butt of the plane lol. I think its sleep time right now. Everyone shut their windows and have blankets and stuff, and I think kenzies ticking them off because she keeps opening her window and blinding people. Its pretty funny actually. And she got some pictures of land.
            One thing I would like to clear up. The in flight movie. You sit, there’s a screen in front of you, you plug your headphones into the armrest, and pick a movie or tv show or radio station, or documentary or news, etc. and to the extent of my knowledge so far I haven’t had to pay anything for them. I just wanted to clear that up.
            Wow I have to get used to the fact that me moving around and leaning over is not going to off balance the plane and send us all hurtling to a fiery death. Funny how when you're a few thousand feet above sea level, you suddenly feel like you weigh a ton lol.
            They fed me and kenzie, it was yummy, I got some strange cold salad that always shows up at get-togethers, a bun, a piece of cake and some chicken and potatoes with veggies. I watched the second episode of season 1 of Grimm (it was the only episode they had and coincidentally one of the ones I hadn’t seen.) then on the second flight I watched dark shadows (funny). And I’m planning on watching the claymation pirate movie.
            Turns out we weren’t landing, it was just more turbulence.
            My favorite part of the flight was the take off. It was so cool, going super fast, changing direction and going up and having gravity go haywire. My ears popped before the back of the plane left the ground lol. One time I actually heard it pop, not just swallow and clear my hearing. I couldn’t help but feel oddly concerned when the plane kept tilting back and forward drastically before landing lol; and before Landing in Vancouver, we flew right over it onto the water, pulled a youie and landed lol. Some of those turns are concerning. It freaks we out when I look out one side of the plane and see sky, and on the other I see land.

            Well that’s all that’s happened so far. I’ll talk to you guys later. Love you all. <3

Mak here J

Wow this has been a very busy and emotional day.
 First  off, last night my little sisters had a sleep over in my room and took most of my bed and all of my blanket it was hot for the first part of the night so I didn’t mind (not like we live in Canada and the nights actually get cold), I was starting to grasp the thought of leaving for a year, and we watched the beginning of a horror movie so I was not sleeping at all. I finally went to bed at 12am and since my bed was full I took brodie]s before she came (she decided cleaning the living room at midnight was The-thing-to-do before leaving I guess). I had probably three or four good hours of sleep and then two hours of half-asleep tossing and turning because it did in fact cooled off in the night and I was now frozen and wishing the little girls and brodie hadn’t been sleeping on top of my only blanket. I didn't really notice till I got up this morning but brodie ended up squishing on to the bottom of my bed where the little girls left room (like a third of the bed) so she was probably sore this morning.
            So I woke up, had a shower, doubled checked I was packed and then set out to the Leduc. I woke up at 6 and somehow managed to get to the air port at like 9:40 (sorry everyone) we are always so late for thing, but not arriving on time for things is almost therapeutic, I think, you learn to relax because your not going to get their exactly at 3 oclock so you quit worrying and get there when you get there. I’m not explaining this very well but my point is to not worry about the clock, just be happy you made it there at all. lots of things happen in life that are unexpected and can put a clearer perspective on what’s really important. So yeah.. anyway.

We ran into the airport, darted towards the check-in counter machines, said hi on our way passed everyone and tried to get the tickets for the checked luggage. After failing numerous times Brodie and I just went into the line up to talk with the people instead. Then after our bags were sent off we headed for costumes (or whatever its called) but not before saying good-bye to everyone. That was hard. I don’t cry very often but the thing that puts me over the edge is seeing others upset, especially if I know them. mom was tearing up, dad could barely talk, papa was upset and jory was too. I was choked up when I was walking towards the next line up, then gramma wanted a picture. In my head I was like “NO! Everyone will know I’m crying!!” but It was for gramma so I smiled for the camera then headed towards the line up.
            I discovered that the security people assume that you know what your doing so she sent us towards those conveyer belts and we just stared. After asking what to do she told us to do what everyone else was doing, duh. They have plastic bins to put your stuff into for the x-ray machine. We needed five bins to fit all of out stuff… its like we over packed or something =P  
            I was so sure that the metal detector was going to go off and I was trying to decide if getting patted down was faster than the huge spiny metal detecting machine, but we went through without any issues, but who knows, we’re still on the 13 our flight to Hong Kong and I heard you go through customs when you leave a plane to, so the night is young.  It was really cool to see my family watching us until we were on the plane and flying away, they were easy to spot because there was about twelve of them standing there in the observation deck J. I think it took about forty minutes to go from hugging everyone goodbye to flying away, efficient system.
            I was freaking out about the plane, because it was my first time on one, and I wanted to turn around and go home when I was the tiny door to actually enter the plane. We ran into Kelly (another person whose in our group to go to china, there was suppose to be six of us but one kid didn’t show). So He was chatting with us as we got to our seats. The engine of a plane sounds exactly like an automatic car was. and you are pulled into your seats when the plain picks up momentum and gets ready to fly. I was scared until the wheels actually left the ground, then I thought “this kinda feels like a roller coaster” and calmed right down. Brodie and I saw the farm land from far away and I wish I was able to get pictures of it but the only camera I had was either a cell phone, which we were told to put away and an ipod which I was worried they’d get mad and take it away.
            Being above the cloudbank was so cool! We even saw a mountain sticking out about the clouds.
            It is 7:53 home time and outside looks like high noon. We’re following the sun, as my dad put it, and I keep thinking “Dang it, sun, don’t you know what time it is?!”  jet lag o.0
            I think I’m ticking off the other passengers though, at around five oclock everyone started closing the blinds on the windows so it would be dark and allow people to sleep, I think I might have been the first to close the blinds on my window because I wanted to watch a movie and the glare was really bad. Probably every 30 minute I get the urge to look outside and see if I can see anything interesting, or see if we happen to be nose diving towards the ocean or something. So I keep sliding the blind up and letting in a blinding light around the cab of the plane. There/s a guy across the walkway from me on the other side of the plane that's started do it too. I feel bad for the guy in between us on the middle row of seats, he keeps getting blasted with light and I didn’t notice for a while. Now I’m holding up a pillow to attempt at blocking some of the sun but I don’t know how well its working.

Turbulence feels like the plane is going over speed bumps and playing bumper cars at the same time =P

So I have been watching movies for a while and brodies trying to sleep; I’m sorta getting tired but I don’t want to miss seeing China from high up. And the map app on the air plane TVs aren’t working so I have no idea where we’re at yet. Oh well.

Talk to you later