fredag den 12. september 2014

Chinese hospitals, teaching and barbecues

We were asked to get a general checkup, and a note from our doctor to say that we are not sick before we came here, but, being in China, that wasn't enough. It might be because it was in english, or just because they wanted to be extra sure. So we went to the hospital the other morning. I thought it was going to be as relaxed as back in Denmark, but of course not. There were blodtest, urin test, X-rays, eyesight tests(which they did while I was wearing my glasses...), some heart measure test and so on. I don't think I have every been tested that much, but I can with safety say that I am completely healthy. And I don't have the plauge... good to know! 

On Monday we had our first lesson with the children. I will say that I totally panicked. It wasn't very nice. But at the end of the day I managed to get a whole class of crying kids to stop crying, which I count as a success. We were told that we were going to spend monday following another english teacher's class, to see how he did and so on. But he didn't show up monday so 10 minutes before class started we were told that we had to teach. If we had just been told the day before, we could at least have prepared something. That was probably why I panicked. But it went alright. The kids were sweet and too young to really make too much trouble. I have 4 classes in total with about 15-20 kids in each and they are between 2 and 4. And they are incredibly cute. They all say Hallo Teacher when we meet then in the halls, and it is really adorable.

Last weekend Linnea and I went to the British Commerce's barbecue. We had been invited only a couple of days before, and didn't really know anything about the event, but reckoned it was going to be a small casual thing. It wasn't. We were driven about an hour outside Chengdu to a place called Diamond bay. It has gates and guards, and when inside it was like what I always thought an American country club would look like, just 10 times bigger (we are in China..). There were beautiful lakes and huge villas, and waterfalls, and neatly cut hedges and flowers everywhere. They had even written Diamond Bay on a hillside, like the Hollywood sign!
The barbecue was far from casual, mind you, the ticket said summer casual, but, as everything in China, summer casual does not just mean pants and a t-shirt. I have never felt this underdress everywhere I go, as I do here in China. The women wear full on ball gowns for everyday life! It's impressive. I really should have brought my glitter skirt from NY.
However underdressed we were, it was a really nice event. We met a lot of new people and made new friends.

China is lovely except, even though they served chicken feet for lunch the other day.

Love Kamma  
ps. The dogs name is apparently Lucky, but pronounced with a Chinese accent it sounds nothing like that!

tirsdag den 26. august 2014

Two accidents and one death – an open letter to the traffic in Chengdu

Dear China and Chinese people
You drive like maniacs! I thought I had it bad when I couldn't remember to look left first in England, but you make that seem like child play. Not only are there a million cars on every road, even the narrow ones, but there are also scooters, bicycles and pedestrian weaving in and out throughout the traffic, like they all exist in their own worlds and can never collide. also, as a side note  the light does not turn green faster if you keep honking, and you can not make the queue move, the louder you honk.

In China the taxies usually have the seat-belts squeezed behind the back seat, so it's impossible to wear them, and apparently it's offensive to the driver, because it means that you don't trust his driving talents.... The taxi drivers do wear their seatbelt, but don't buckle it, they just have it half way on... Why even bother, if you don't buckle it? However much it scares me to get into a taxi in Chengdu, Linnea and I often defy fate, and tell ourself that we can live life on the wild side, and get in. Yesterday that concluded in the most incompetent and also competent driver at the same time. We were terrified for our lives on the back seat, but he got us ”safely” to our destination in 5 minutes, for 9 kr. Some other taxi might have used 15 (but probably charged us the same). In conclusion: I should stop pulling my Danish standards and expectations down over the Chinese people.

With that being said, the Chinese traffic is still not a safe place, or a nice place. In one day we (Linnea and I) saw two accidents, one where a car hit a scooter, and one where a car hit a bicycle. Luckily we didn't see the actual accident, only the aftermath, where the injured had been taken to the hospital. However walking through Chengdu this afternoon with Summer, we heard a woman screaming and crying and saw the big group of people gathering around the corner. When we reached the group an old woman was kneeling by a lifeless body, that was being covered by a white sheet. She was crying out in a mixture of anger and sorrow as everyone stood by and watched. The police quickly told us to leave, it wasn't the picture of China that was intended for foreigners.

 I expected to see something like this, especially in China, but I didn't expect it to be all in one day and including death.

However our apartment has been inhabited by Summers tiny puddle Noki, who is currently trying to convince me to throw his ball, so the world is not all bleak. We also met the kids in the kindergarden, they are incredibly cute!  

lørdag den 23. august 2014

A 24 hour flight, arriving in China and finding our way around Chengdu

We left CPH airport at 8 pm wednesday evening and landed in Chengdu around 8 pm thursday. Flying for 24 hours is not the greatest activity in the world, but it was better than expected and I slept through most of it, which seemed like a great idea at the time, however it's 5:40 am as I'm writing this and I can't sleep. The lack of sleep might also be because it's raining, and the apartment has a lot of weird sounds, but I'm going to blame it on the journey.

It rained since we landed, and it seems like it could rain for days. It doesn't really sound like rain, just like someone pouring buckets and buckets over our apartment building. Arriving in the airport Linnea, the danish girl who I'm living and teaching with, and I were picked up in the airport by Kevin and Summer. Kevin is our ”english-speaking-chinesse-guy” and Summer is the english teacher at the kindegarden where we are working. However she is also our roommate. So, different address than we orginally expected, but she seems very nice.

Summer is a tiny, very pretty, Chinese woman, who wears babypink and has stickers of cartoon animals and flowers all over the walls of the living room, as well as our rooms. Her apartment is quite sparse, however the colour scheme is something that would have made my host family in England very proud. Especially the bathroom, which is a lovely maroon colour paired with salmon pink. But overall it's a nice apartment, big and spacious. And she has green couches, so it's not all bad!

Chengdu City is huge and Chinese people don't believe in maps... which makes everything a tad difficult because none of them know english either, so Linnea and I have been lost a couple of times. But now we found a map made by an american, which means it's readable and we'll try it out tonight!
Overall the city seems nice, with a lot of trees and statues of Mao. 

In conclusion: Linnea saw two shooting stars on the plane coming here, which I take as a sign from the universe that it's going to be a great trip! 
Love Kamma

onsdag den 20. august 2014

In a couple of hours I'll be on a plane, on my way to Chengdu, located in the Peoples Republic of China. This trip will be the basis for this blog. I am going to teach english to small children, age 2-6, and of course explore Chinese culture and life. I'm excited and don't really know what to expect. Let's jump into the unknown.