Sunday, 30 November 2008

Blerg. Sickface.

First off, Dave, my bed is queen sized. I think?

Ugh. I think I feel worse than I did on Friday. Bah. Please excuse this entry if it seems rambling or weird. My brain doesn't appear to be on.

I got through my two classes on Friday relatively easily. The students were kind enough that when they saw I was pretty sick they shut up so I wouldn't have to yell. The parent's day thing was interesting. I can't remember how many parents came to talk to me. It wasn't a ton but it wasn't none, either.

Two of the parents that came to talk to me spoke only in Chinese. Two spoke about half and half and one spoke pretty good English. I think that's how many it was? 5? Anyway, it was kinda cool to meet some of the parents. One came over with a student from class B and I'm guessing it was her grandmother who said to me in Chinese "She really likes you!".

The only thing that bothered me is that EVERY PARENT asked the same question, "How can my student improve their English?" As though I had some magic serum in my desk that I could just give them. Nobody seemed to think that "hard work and practice" was an acceptable answer.

After parent's day ended, I went back to my apartment and stayed there. I knitted and had some of my turkey mush leftovers and went to bed at like 10pm. I woke up quite a few times but only accepted it at noon. I did nothing all day Saturday but knit and watch Friends and shower. Zeno had said that we should hang out if I was feeling better. I wasn't feeling better but I needed to go out to eat since there wasn't much in my apartment. I called but she didn't answer. Luckily as I was heading out she was heading in. Her phone had been off for invigilating. We headed off to Carrefour together with the intention of eating at Yummie House, a new restaurant, but the Subway there was having a buy one get one free sale so we went there.

On the way there/while eating/on the way back we talked about a bunch of stuff. We made tentative plans to travel somewhere during the new year's break (apparently I get the 1-3rd of January off??) We talked about being teachers and we talked about books and TV shows and such. After dinner she invited me to my place to borrow a book since I finished the ones I bought. I borrowed "Me Talk Pretty One Day" which Nate's mom recommended to me this summer but never got to me. Zeno also suggested "Coming Home Crazy" which is about an American who comes to China to teach English. It's about what he experienced in China and what America felt like to him when he came home. Should be interesting to read since I' it.

After that I asked if she felt like watching "Pushing Daises" since I had suggested it to her. We watched 2.5 episodes. In the middle of the third one she said she wanted to go to bed so I headed back to my apartment, leaving the DVDs with her. :-) It felt really nice to hang out with Zeno. I feel like I said this before but I really hope she actually likes hanging out with me and isn't just being polite. I think she's funny and kind and a lot of fun.

I woke up like a half hour ago and still feel terrible. Ugh. If I still feel bad tomorrow I'm going to the school clinic. I still have one more week of classes on the current topic but my brain has run out of ideas. I have no plans for this week and I hate doing work when I feel this crappy. I don't want to be a lazy/bad teacher and just show movies (as much as my students would love it). I should really do my lesson plan now so I can spend the rest of the day taking it easy.

UGH. I was hoping I would feel well enough today so I could get some Christmas shopping done. Next weekend I'll be in Nanjing so I'm running out of time. I feel so lazy and worthless. I HATE being sick.

In cuter news, I got this e-mail from one of my students yesterday:

I am so sorry to heard that you got a cold .Do you feel better now?
Please take care of yourself. Maybe your family mumbers aren't in Shanghai.But you still have we, we are your best freinds.
I am looking forword to having your interesting class,and see a healthy Stephanie.


Some of my students drive me crazy, some always put a smile on my face.

I suppose that's all for now. I hope I feel better next time I post.


Friday, 28 November 2008

Post Thanksgiving-ness

So yesterday was Thanksgiving. And today I think I might be dying.


I started feeling sick yesterday and now I just feel awful. My throat is all raw and aching and I cough if I try to talk, Not a good thing for a teacher. Luckily for me the lessons I had planned were already minimal on the talking for me. Today is Parent's Day, but the other teachers tell me that the parents might not even try to talk to me since they can't speak English. I hope I can get through today alright so I can just go home and go to bed. I am sitting at my desk debating if I have the energy to walk 4 steps to get a cup of water.

Yesterday was pretty normal. In my classes I showed two Thanksgiving day themed episodes of "Friends", partially because I figured it was a holiday and I wanted a break from teaching.

I asked June if she wanted to go get Thanksgiving dinner with me at this place called "Big Bamboo", a sports bar right down the street. I hadn't been yet and found on an expat website that they had a set Thanksgiving dinner meal (200rmb). It was her first time celebrating Thanksgiving, being born and raised in Shanghai. I also invited Ned, the econ professor from New York.

After work we walked over together. They had a bunch of choices for the appetizer (I ordered cream of cauliflower soup, which was quite tasty), then they had either turkey or ham with garlic mashed potatoes, stuffing, steamed veggies, gravy, etc (I got turkey), and then pumpkin pie with ice cream for dessert. And one free drink. I got a glass of wine. Everything was pretty good, though not like my family cooks. I took a look at the menu and they had a LOT of choices. They had stuff like lobster bisque and fancy pants burgers and wraps and stuff. I am definitely going back to try something else. Maybe the next time I start craving American food.

After dinner I went back to my apartment. I cleaned a bit and tried to sleep but I couldn't sleep too well. I signed into windows messenger to wait for my family. Around 1:30am (my time) I got the call. I got shuffled around a lot and we had some trouble getting both the video and sound to work but finally it did and I got the chance to talk to my family. They set me up on a shelf or something and I watched them eat dinner while I had my leftover soup. Auntie Sue kept scaring the crap out of me by grabbing the microphone and talking into it.

I hope I wasn't an annoyance at dinner, or that people felt weird having me just sitting there watching them eat. Usually when people tried to talk to me they had to repeat themselves, so it was kind of troublesome. I still enjoyed it. I miss my family a lot and it was nice to be a part of their holiday in some small way. I said a rather abrupt goodbye since the chat was acting up and I needed to get to bed (as it was now around 3:40 am).

This morning I woke up at 9am. My first class starts at 9am. Oh crappity crap crap. I got dressed in a tornado of clothes and flew out the door, while getting a phone call from June that my students were looking for me. Good for them, I suppose. They could have just sat in the classroom hoping I had forgotten about them. Henry (the student that likes to say "Holy crap!") often shows up late to my class, so when I showed up late he came over to joke with me about it. Ah well. At least we still had enough time to watch both episodes of "Friends" even though we started about 10 minutes late.

I feel pretty sucky about being late. I must have slept right through my alarm because I don't remember hearing it. Being late normally makes me upset but being late as the TEACHER? With a class waiting for me? I feel a bit like a failure. And rather embarrassed. I guess staying up all night when I was already sick wasn't a good idea and I'm paying for it now.

Luckily and unluckily my plans for this weekend got canceled. Charlotte said she was feeling a bit disorganized and had stuff she needed to take care of so she asked if we could move our Nanjing trip to next weekend. At first I was reluctant but now I'm glad I agreed. I would NOT enjoy a long train ride feeling like this and it would ruin my time seeing Paul and Kyle if all I wanted to do was stay in the hostel and complain about being sick. We pushed it to next weekend. Oddly enough, next weekend is Revels. So we TMTers abroad can get together and miss Revels together.

I should go work on my lesson plan for next week since I don't have it planned yet but all I can think about is that cup of water. Imma go get it.

Man I feel like crap.

I hope you all had wonderful Thanksgivings.

Much love,

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Christmas Wish List

People have been asking what I would like for Christmas so here are some ideas.

Christmas Wish List

Smartfood! I know I already asked for it, but it’s still my favorite snack and I can’t find it here.

Pictures from home/stuff from home/stuff to hang on my walls or cubicle

Bedsheets: The school only gave me a sheet and a comforter. No fitted sheet. No extra blankets even though it’s getting cold. Plus I’ll need more sheets anyway when I have a guest stay over. I would love a fleece blanket and/or a set of jersey knit sheets.

Advil/Excedrin: I haven’t seen American medicine since I’ve been here.

Money is always useful, especially because I want to try and travel around while I am here. I just have no idea what the best way would be to send it.

Clothes: I didn’t bring much with me so I’m getting tired with what I have and there are limited places to go here where I can buy clothes that fit. Anything from PJs or socks to a new sweater would be welcome.

Anything you think would be useful for a teacher. Especially an ESL teacher. Books, videos, games, or resources with class ideas.

Anything that’s a specialty item. Like…only in America. Like maple sugar candy from Vermont or Tasty Kakes!

Funny/weird stuff. Like the toast bandages my mom sent me. Weird stuff makes me happy.

Anything Christmasy!

Honestly, anything I get from anyone would be amazing. Just the idea that people want to send me stuff puts a smile on my face.

Christmas Non-Wish List

This is just a list of things that I like and I know that people might want to send to me, but I can get it here or already have a lot of.

Yarn: I already have too much yarn. I have all the yarn for my blanket plus more than I bought here.

Cheez-its: I know I asked for them in my first wish list, but I have now found them here. I feel bad when people spend the money to send me something I can get down the street.

DVDs or Books: Unless it’s pretty rare or something very special to you (or a teaching book, as I mentioned above), I can probably get it here. Plus, remember, anything you send me I’ll want to take home so a bag full of books will be a little cumbersome.

Also, just FYI, I can get most super popular candies here. Like kitkats and snickers and such.

Fantasy Christmas Wish List

Just some stuff I really want but I know I can't get.

My dogs

My parents

My friends from home/college

A free ticket to visit D’Arcy in Japan

More confidence in the classroom

Being able to attend Revels/Medfest

An oven

And again, if you send me a package, please let me know what you would like me to send to YOU. :-)

Once again, for easy access, CLICK HERE to get all the information on how to contact me.


So I made my plans for Thanksgiving today. I asked June if she wanted to go to Big Bamboo (a sports bar near the school) for their Thanksgiving special. 200RMB for a 3 course meal of traditional Thanksgiving food. Since she's Chinese it's not really important to her, I suppose, but I didn't want to be alone on Thanksgiving. Also, completely randomly, a friend of Randy's is coming to school to teach salsa dancing. So tomorrow I shall salsa to work up my appetite for turkey.

Ron was a sweet heart. I checked with him first about Thanksgiving plans, but he was already booked. He then called me today to make sure I had made some plans because he was worried about me sitting at home all alone. I thought that was really nice of him. Also, he suggest I try have Sprite and Disarona mixed. Apparently it's a favorite of his. When I mixed them I thought it looked rather familiar. Hey people from Drew, what does this picture look like to you?
It looks surprisingly like Sproffee (Sprite and coffee mixed)! Kinda tastes like Sproffee too! So basically it's the alcoholic version of Sproffee. Hehe.

Today I got my Christmas package from Rose. She gave me the head's up that I was going to be getting it soon. Since I know it's Christmas themed (and since I just got a package from my parents on Monday) I am going to wait until December to open it. Let's see if I have the willpower to wait! Apparently there is stuff in there for me to decorate with. I am super excited.
Look at that box. Just staring at me.!

I thought it would be nice if I ate a little Thanksgiving dinner with my family when we have our video chat. To prepare, I've been making some of the food my mom sent me. That way I can just microwave the leftovers and have a mini 2AM Thanksgiving dinner while video chatting with my family as they eat their real feast. Plus it means I get a week of Thanksgiving stuffs instead of just one day. I guess I am making up for quality with quantity.

Yesterday I made the tortellini soup (yum!) and saved a bowl. Tonight I made the mashed potatoes and a rather weird mush. There was a recipe suggestion on the back of the stuffing box where you cook up turkey and veggies in gravy and then put the stuffing on top to cook. I had my canned turkey and made some of the instant gravy (the only veggie I had was creamed corn, so I didn't use that). It was supposed to be cooked in a skillet but all I have is this wok thing. I was worried about it looking too dry but then I added too much water and it kinda turned into slop. Here is a picture of my dinner.
Looks kinda like cat food, huh? Actually it was VERY DELICIOUS. It just tasted like someone had put turkey and stuffing and gravy in a blender. The potatoes were yummy too. I have leftovers of both. Probably enough for my mini-feast and a lunch.

I've been feeling a little burnt out recently. Maybe it's just cuz my body is used to getting a vacation around this time of year. I've decided to be lazy in class tomorrow and show some Thanksgiving themed episodes of "Friends".

I suppose that's all for now.

Much love!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Hey Look! A Post About China

So I realize that most of my posts could be about any teacher at any school in any country, which specific mentions about China only happening every once in a while. (Usually when I complain about transferring subway lines in People's Square) But in my recent classes we've been talking about culture and I've learned some new stuff about China that I thought would be interesting to put in here for all of you.

I started the class by asking the students to pretend that I had never been to China before and that I knew nothing about it. I wanted them to tell me everything that they thought was important to know. Some of it I already knew but some of it was totally news to me. Here is some of the stuff that they mentioned that I hope you'll find interesting.

-The number four in Chinese sounds like the word "death" in Chinese, so four is considered an unlucky number
-You shouldn't give a clock as a gift because it means that you want that person to die soon
-You shouldn't give shoes to your boyfriend or girlfriend because it means you want them to leave
-You shouldn't share a pear with a friend because it means that you will drift apart
-If you give a gift of a cup to someone, it means that you are full of love for them
-You shouldn't open an umbrella indoors or you won't grow any taller
-Men shouldn't wear a green hat because it means their girlfriend/wife is cheating on him. Therefore, a woman should not give her boyfriend/husband a green hat as a present
-Calling someone 250 apparently means idiot?
-8 and 6 are lucky numbers
-If you give money in a red envelope (for new years or a wedding or something), the money should be even, like 400RMB.
-The person who makes the invitation for dinner should pay, although most of the younger generation has no problem "going dutch" or "AA" as they call it (and I don't know why they call it AA)

That's really all I can remember. Hope you think it's interesting.

So ends your Chinese culture lesson for the day.


A Thanksgiving Care Package

Thank you so much mom and dad.

Monday, 24 November 2008

A Full November Weekend

So Friday not much happened. It's Monday and I can't remember what the heck I did three days ago. I'm guessing it was my normal "housework/craftiness/laziness" triple threat which involves me alternating puttering around cleaning and watching movies while knitting.

Saturday I went to brunch at a place called Arch in Puxi. I still get a sense of satisfaction when I find a new place for the first time without any problems. I ordered the "American Breakfast" which included steak, sunny side up eggs, roasted herb potatoes, a fruit cup, sauteed mushrooms and onions and a....German sausage. K? It was tasty, though I am a carb queen and would have liked some toast or something. I got there at 11:30 and stayed until about 3 just laughing and talking and meeting new people. It was some of the same people from the wine tasting, plus a bunch more. I met a friend of Ron's who was visiting from Beijing.

After brunch I went with Isabelle to the craft market. She was the most excited about the idea of starting a knitting group so I invited her to go with me to get supplies. I figured I would get a whole bunch of yarn and needles and sell them to people who came to the first meeting. It would be cheaper for everyone if I bought in bulk. She and I had some trouble though. First it took us about a half and hour to get a taxi. When we finally saw an empty one, she gallantly ran across the street through traffic and waved him down. Then when we got to the craft market, I ended up in the wrong one. There are a few handicraft markets in the Yuyuan garden area and only one sells yarn (that I know of). They all look alike so it gets confusing. When we stopped looking for the market and started looking for a place to get coffee instead, we found it by accident! We were walking towards a KFC sign (KFC sells coffee here) and it was just an advertisement. Right across the street from the sign was the right craft market. Yay!

After that we walked to the subway and parted ways, but with plans to meet up later at Shanghai Studio (a bar/club) that night. I went back to Pudong and met up with Ron and his friend from Beijing who were doing some sight seeing. We stopped at my place to rest for a minute and so I could drop off my giant bag of yarn and stuff, then went to dinner.

We couldn't decide for the longest time where to go for dinner. We had considered going to the Super Brand Mall, but then decided to go to some place in JinQiao near me. But then we couldn't decide where. Finally we ended up in the foot court area underneath the Carrefour. Ron suggested we each get something we wanted and meet up to eat. I am so glad we did! The food was AWESOME and pretty cheap. I got a bowl of this delicious broth with noodles, pork and seafood dumplings. It was sooo good. I kid you not, my stomach just growled thinking about it. Ha! I am definitely going back there.

After that we headed back to Fudan where Ron is studying. We went to his dorm room so he could change for the club. It was weird and cool to be back in a dorm room. His dorm was pretty cool. His room was not very big but not too small. It even had a balcony! Down the hall there was a kitchen with a bunch of burners and every student gets a cabinet that can lock so you can store your food there. Cool! Ron also made me a tasty drink he invented made with instant coffee, chocolate milk mix, and amaretto. Delicious.

His friend from Beijing (whose real name was Alex but I decided to call Daniel) was exhausted so he ended up going back to where he was staying and get some rest. Another friend of Ron's who I think was named Christina met up with us to go to the bar. I had SO MUCH FUN. Hanging out with Ron and his friend was very cool. A lot of the people at the club were the same people from the wine tasting and brunch and pub crawl! It was nice to see familiar faces, even if I still don't know everyone that well. And everyone is so nice. First we sat and talked and had some drinks and then we went dancing! The dance floor was a little small but not totally packed like some clubs I've been too. I had a complete stranger come up to me at one point and say "GIRL! You were OWNING the dance floor!" which I took as a very high compliment. :-)

The only downside of the evening, as per usual, was the hike back to Pudong. The taxi driver didn't even know where he was going so I had to show him on a map where I lived. I got to bed around 4am. My throat was killing me from yelling and singing at the top of my lungs. I couldn't help it. They played good music.

Sunday morning I got up and had a shower. Then I FINALLY went to the post office and sent out Cori and Dave's packages. Sadly they are going to take two months to get to them. AUGH. At least sending them was relatively painless so I can get there to send more. Plus I learned the post office IS open on Sundays so my window of opportunity is wider.

As I was biking to the post office, my left pedal felt weird. Once again, the bolt came off. Luckily the bike repair people are in the same direction as the post office so I only had to bike a little further. I probably looked ridiculous as I would pedal two or three times and then swiftly kick sideways to push the pedal back on. I nearly knocked myself off a few times. The guy I went to last time wasn't there but there was another fellow just a few feet further down the road. He fixed it up super quick and I was on my way again.

Other than that I didn't do much on Sunday. Laundry and craftiness. I had a video chat with Alicia and Ciara randomly, which was nice. I had a internet phone chat with my parents. No webcam since mom's computer is off in the twilight zone and when I tried to use my webcam my sound came through bad.

At 6 I met up with a student of mine, Carter, about the medieval projects his class has been working on. Then he asked me to read a letter he was sending as part of an application. We worked together for about an hour fixing it up. Fixing grammar and spelling but mostly working on making sure it flowed. Sometimes having a native speaker is very helpful. Like knowing that propaganda has a negative connotation. Stuff like that.

Anyway, that's really it and now it's monday and I need to get to class. The days seem to go by so quickly here. I am going to Ron's birthday dinner tonight. Thursday is Thanksgiving which makes me sad, but I will be hopefully video chatting with my family.

Ok, I really do need to go to class.

Love and hugs!

Knitting Update Three, and Other Pictures

I like doing these so here is another post made up mostly of pictures!

First of all, I bought another bootleg book. I didn't even notice what was so special about this book until this weekend. I think unless you have been living under a rock you know what name/words should be in the big blank space on the cover. I guess my mind just filled in the blank automatically when I bought it. Apparently I am reading J.K. Rowling and the Deathly Hallows.
I got some yarn this weekend at the craft market since some people were interested in a knitting group but didn't know where to get yarn. I figured I would get the yarn and needles and have them pay me back. Here is my pseudo-artsy picture of the materials I got.
While I was at the craft market I bought these gloves. I know you are saying "Stephanie, you just bought those fingerless glove/mitten things, why do you need those?" Well, the gloves I already have are too thick to wear while typing and sometimes it gets cold enough in the office that I just want a little extra warmth. Plus they were only 10rmb.
I haven't posted a knitting update in a while, mostly because I have been doing other crafty stuff. Here are the two lasted completed squares of my epic blanket.

This square is made from yarn from my Grandma Rice.
This square is made from yarn that Lee gave me.
Now to post a real update!


Friday, 21 November 2008

A Family of Oranges

Isn't is adorable? It's four of the mini oranges that my co-worker gave me plus the normal sized orange I got for lunch yesterday. I currently have them stacked up like a snowman. A citrusy orange snowman.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Sauron Jr. Keeps Me Warm At Night

So I've been pretty darn cold at night. We are supposed to get a winter blanket but I don't know when. So far I've been making due with my summer comforter and wearing thick socks and a sweatshirt to bed. But night before last, I kept waking up shivering and figured maybe it's time to actually start using the various heater things I have in my apartment. I checked the weather report and apparently it's been getting close to freezing at night. Oh dear. I figured I would try out the space heater instead of the air conditioner since I only needed one place (my bed) to be warm.

The space heater that came with my apartment looks just like an oscillating fan minus the blades. At least when it's off. When it's on...oh my. The whole back panel glows reddish orange. With the black spot in the middle, it looks like the flaming eye of Sauron. I've decided to call him Sauron Jr. It was a little funky using an oscillating space heater. I put it next to my bed and I would feel this flow of heat from head to foot then from foot to head. I did feel pretty warm and comfy. I set the timer on it to automatically turn off after 40 minutes so I fell asleep toasty and woke up freezing. Oh well.

Last night I was feeling kinda depressed. I had a completely spontaneous video chat with Rose which made my day so much better.

Classes are going ok I suppose. Some better than others. I think one saving grace is how quickly the weeks seem to go. I feel like I was complaining about it being Monday just yesterday and it's already Thursday. It feels like only last week I had to put my water meter readings on my door for the utility bill and I have to do it again tomorrow.

I wish I could get through to my students. This mornings class I gave them the option of discussing the topics as a class or working in smaller groups. They choose the smaller groups. I told them I would give them a strike if I heard them speaking Chinese instead of English and if they could go the whole class without getting three strikes I would end class early and play a game. I gave them a LOT of leeway. It wasn't one strike if I heard any Chinese, I only gave strikes if I heard a LOT of Chinese. They still got three strikes pretty immediately. I talked to them at the end of class trying to impress on them that as much as I wanted to have fun this was still an English class. I asked for suggestions for class rules or ideas on how to encourage English speaking. The only one I got was a student saying that if someone spoke Chinese then they should have to get in front of the class and dance or sing a song. I don't know if I want to use embarrassment as a scare tactic. It's very frustrating.

In lighter news, the older woman in my office brought in a bag of teeny tiny oranges today. SOO CUTE. And I mean teeny tiny. The smallest ones are the size of ping pong balls, the biggest only slightly bigger than that. They are a breeze to peel and so delicious. She gave me six of them. All together they MIGHT equal the size of a normal orange.

I don't know if I already wrote about this, but I am going to a brunch in Puxi on Saturday. Afterwards I am going with some people that were interested in knitting to a craft market where we will get supplies. The plan seems to be to switch locations each time we knit. So one night it would be in my apartment, next time someone else's. These are the people I met at the wine tasting so when it's my turn to host I plan to get some wine and some little snacks and have a fun evening of wine, knitting and chatting. :-)

I think that's all for now. I am enjoying some Chinese sweet and salty crackers and mini oranges. I also have one bag of the candy corn Dave sent me in my desk in case I get a sweet tooth in the afternoons. Yum.

Much love,

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

A Packge from Dave

Hey look! Another video blog! I got a package from Dave and opened it in front of the camera.

Let me know if the music is distracting.


Monday, 17 November 2008

Blarg arg arg.

This weekend went by much too quickly. Saturday was spent writing, practicing and recording a song for Lee for her birthday. Sunday I cleaned and made dinner for me and Ron, the guy I hung out with at the pub crawl.

For dinner I made pasta with a mushroom sauce and garlic chicken with some garlic bread and a bottle of white wine. For dessert I tried out one of those "no bake" sets they have in the imported section. We had no bake cheesecake that actually tasted ok. I had some leftover cherry pottage that I made with my students last week during the medieval cooking so we heated that up and spooned it on top of the cheesecake. Tasty!

Ron and I had planned to go to the financial building but we ended up hanging around and eating and talking for a long time. Then he wanted to go to Carrefour since I told him I found Disaronno there for cheap. I am very amused that I could find amaretto but even after circling the kitchen department twice I can't find an ice tray. How can I enjoy a tasty glass of Disaronno on the rocks? Maybe I'll have some luck at the Pines store.

Sunday night I tried to get more midterms corrected. Ugh. They are taking so long. I stayed at work until 7pm and I'm still not finished. I hate grading something as ambiguous as writing especially on the IB scale which is out of 30. So one point can be a big difference. If a student challenges me and asked why they got a 23 instead of a 24, I really don't know what to say. Of course I always give them a confident face and a no-nonsense "I'm the teacher" answer, but it still irks me.

I brought in the leftover cheesecake to share with the office at the end of the school day. I figured eating about 2/3 of a leftover cheesecake by myself was a little gluttonous. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. I just finished eating my dinner of leftover pasta (that's right mom and dad, I ate leftover was ok) and am watching a dumb kids movie to get my mind off of work and stress and my heartburn (which with me is caused by stress).

I had so much fun on Sunday just hanging out with Ron, it made me feel like I was back in college (maybe because he still is). It was great to laugh and have some wine and talk about silly things and cook and have someone enjoy my cooking. But now I'm in a crappy mood. Maybe it's just cuz it's Monday, I have a sink full of dirty dishes, midterms aren't done being corrected, and I don't have the lesson plan set for this week yet.

Sometimes I wish I had taken that job as an assistant teacher at that primary school in Nanjing. I would have spent a lot more time doing fun stuff like dance and martial arts with the kids (that's why they offered me the job) and a lot less time on being responsible for 60 teenagers so grade crazy it would drive any teacher nuts.

Stress and homesickness always seem to come hand in hand. It's like the chicken and the egg problem; which causes which? Either way, together they aren't fun. Also, Thanksgiving is coming up fast and it'll be the first Thanksgiving I spend away from home. Suckage.

Man, I didn't mean for this entry to turn into a rant. I shouldn't write when I'm in a bad mood, I always make things sound worse than they are.

Birthday Present for Lee

My friend Lee's birthday was yesterday. As a present for her, I wrote and recorded this song. I figured since it took ALL DAY Saturday I might as well put it here so you guys could see it too.

My singing is pretty bad and I've only been playing guitar for about a year and a half. Be kind.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Video Blog

So umm...I made a video blog. It's weird and it's long and it's probably boring.

But now I know how to do it so it'll probably be easier in the future. Now I just need to find interesting things to record.

Let me know what you think.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Random Pictures of Me

I recently got some pictures from other people and thought I would put them up.

June took this picture when we were playing around with the castle and the doll. Hey mom! I'm wearing the bracelet you gave me. :-)
This is an old picture, actually. June took this picture like...two months ago. I'm wearing a necklace I made after she and I went to the craft market. I never took a picture of it myself, so there it is. You can compare how boring my desk looks to the post I put up a few days ago.
This is from karaoke this weekend. I wish I could remember what the heck Evan is singing cuz he sure looks soulful.
And me singing. I think I'm singing "Love Song" here, but I don't remember.
Anyway, that's all for some pictures.

I am trying to figure out how to get my webcam to record video and I might might might do a video blog entry. I think I need to download something first though...hmmm.

Anyway, love!


November Wine Tasting

Bah! Weather! This week went from being so cold on Monday that I decided to buy a coat, to today wishing I hadn't worn this sweater. Oh Shanghai.

Wednesday evening I had a treat and webchatted with Elysse for about 2 hours. Course I ended up going to be at almost 2am cuz I am dumb face. But it was nice to talk with her.

Yesterday at work was fine. I finished watching A Knight's Tale with class 2. I was playing around with a tennis ball in the last ten minutes of class and was pretending to toss it to my students but did the "drop behind your back" trick. Which they asked me to do again...and again....and again. One student, Jackey, randomly wanted to arm wrestle with me (though he called it wrist wrestling). I asked if he was serious, then I figured why not. I beat him both right and left handed, but I don't know if it's because I really won or because he let me win as the teacher.

I also chatted with Alicia for a bit since I found out that google chat now has a webcam option. I was at work so I couldn't speak but it was nice to see her face and hear her voice during my lunch break.

I went back to my apartment after work for a quick snack to hold me over until I got to the wine tasting. I figured I would take the bus to the subway. I keep forgetting that 5:30 is the worst time for public transport. Ugh. First of all, the bus was so crowded that I had to stand on the steps. Then I had the most crowded subway ride I have experienced so far. I have joked about the people working at the Japanese subway that shove people onto the trains to make them fit. Well...that's what happened last night. I was standing next to a pole at the time and I feel like I should have a bruise running down the entire right ride of my body from being shoved into it by a mass of people. Aiya. Then I nearly got torn in half because I was right on the edge of people trying to get on the train and people trying to get off the train. Anyone here ever making a whirlpool in their pool and then try to hold onto the edge or get out? That's what it felt like, except it was people instead of water.

People are smart, right? Why do they try to shove their way onto a packed train when there is a wall of people trying to get OUT, thereby making plenty of room for them? Why do they instead try to force their way through? The doors aren't going to close while there are still people getting on and off, wait for 9 freakin' seconds! *deep breath*

Anyway, I got to the wine tasting relatively unscathed. I recognized some people from last time. Hehe, there was a guy who came over and said hi to me and I thought looked really familiar but I couldn't figure out who he was. Then I realized he was the one dressed up as Hilary Clinton for the pub crawl. I didn't recognize him without the wig.

Last night was super fun. It was good since I already knew people from last time so I was more relaxed. It made it easier to meet new people too. I was sitting next to Steve, from Australia and Isabelle from Germany. Only in Shanghai. :-) Steve was absolutely hilarious. I felt like a bad student sitting in the back of the room while the owners explained about the wine and Steve was just muttering nonsense under his breath to make me laugh. In one ear I was hearing about how old wines were usually a mix of different types of grapes but new wines are usually only one kind of grape. In the other ear I hear Steve saying, "Mm...that's interesting. Teaspoon. Roofing tiles. Syphilis." I completely lost it when we got our last dish of food, a plate with cheeses, meats, curried pears, marinated olives and a pat of butter for the bread. We were all munching and listening to the owners when suddenly Steve leans over to me and in a half frantic voice goes, "Stephanie! I just ate the butter!" Apparently he thought it was cheese. My cheeks were killing me by the end of the evening after grinning like a moron trying not to laugh out loud.

The wine and food were all delicious again. Isabelle made me feel even more like a bad wine student because she was taking notes all evening. All I wrote on my paper was my Chinese name because someone asked what it was. Oh well. It was still a lot of fun. I talked about knitting and a few people seemed interested in getting together and me teaching them how to knit. That would make me so happy. Also Ron, the guy I hung out with at the pub crawl may want to come to Nanjing with me and Charlotte. He'll hopefully be in Pudong on Sunday. He wants to go to the financial tower and I haven't been so I asked if I could tag along. I also told him he should come over and I could cook dinner. I want to cook something for someone, dang it.

I was writing this entry at work and I thought I wanted to add something to it before I posted it, so I saved it. Now I've forgotten what else I wanted to write about, so it's getting posted as is.


Wednesday, 12 November 2008

I Bought a Coat, and Other News

So yesterday June asked me if I was happy here. I was a bit surprised at the question and answered her honestly. Some good days, some bad. Some good classes, some bad. I am missing home but doing alright. She said that she hoped I was happy because she wanted me to stay here. I really didn't know how to respond, but it made me feel good that someone wants me to stay here.

Watching "A Knight's Tale" in class is going great. The kids laugh and gasp and I can tell from what I understand when they are talking to each other during the movie, they are talking ABOUT the movie. Yesterday I had all of class 2, but since class C hadn't even seen the beginning of the movie, we had to do something else. The teachers said to just keep an eye on them and let them study, but I asked what they wanted to do. Study? Talk quietly while I played music? Do review for MY midterm? Play a game? The vote was a clear "let's play a game". You know, if I had midterms all day I would jump on the chance to play a game last period of the day too. We played 7-up for a bit. Then one of the more responsible students asked if we could do a little review. I went over what they needed to do for my midterm again. Then we played another game until the end of class. It was like "hot potato" where we passed around a tennis ball until the music stopped and then that person had to get in front of the class and sing a song. This game was entirely their idea. And I say "WE passed" because after I stopped the music on the first round the students asked me to play too while the first "it" took my place as music stopper.

Part of me worries that they see me too much as the "fun teacher", but I haven't had any real problems with discipline in Class 2. I suppose I don't mind the "goofball" labeling if it means they are comfortable enough around me to open up and speak English. Better than a classroom full of perfect angels scared out of their minds to open their mouths lest they make a mistake.

Anyway, I decided to go to Johnny Moo's for dinner last night. I continue to enjoy any excuse to bike around. I also decided while I was out that I should get myself a coat. I thought I would be ok without one, but it has been surprisingly cold here lately. And I guess in an effort to save energy, the school hasn't turned on the heat in the high school building. Since the middle of the school is open (remember the mini forest in the middle of the building?) I guess that makes sense. Plus, part of me still wants to go to Harbin for the ice festival and I am sure as hell not going that far north without a decent winter coat!

I checked Carrefour first just in case I could find something half-way decent in my size since I knew it would be cheaper. Now, I could have found something that fit me, but I like my winter coats to be a little big on me so I can bulk up layers underneath just in case. After some searching I gave up and headed to Decathlon. They cater to the westerners that live in the area so they have larger sizes.

I found the perfect coat about three aisles in. It's one of those layer coats with the fleece inner coat and the waterproof outer coat. I figured it was perfect. Three coats in one, plus it's just like my winter coat at home. The fleece coat is warm enough for now, but if it gets colder I can put the top coat back on. Plus, Shanghai can get very wet so it's nice that I now have a waterproof jacket. Here is a picture of me wearing just the fleece coat. The top coat looks exactly the same: solid black.
The brand name is Quechua. When I first saw it I assumed it was a Chinese brand name. Turns out "Quechua" is the name of a native American language in South America. Am I a dork for finding this interesting?

Also at Decathlon I bought a pair of convertible mittens, or hobo gloves, or "fingerless gloves that have a mitten top you can flip back", or whatever you want to call them. I know, I know, I can knit them myself. But I'm cold NOW. And the gloves were cheap enough that buying the yarn and material to line them would probably cost about the same.

A mitten!
No, a glove!Plans are in the works on multiple sides for visitingness. It occurred to me this weekend that Paul and Kyle are heading back to the US in mid December and I still haven't headed out to Nanjing. Then Charlotte sent me a message asking when I wanted to go somewhere during a weekend trip (we had discussed before heading out to some nearby places during the weekend, like Suzhou). Perfect! I contacted Benno and asked when a good weekend to come down (up? left? right?) was. So far the plan is to leave Friday the 28th on the train and stay until Sunday. There is a hostel right across the street from the college they are studying at. Sweetness!

Also, D'Arcy, who is teaching in Japan, is making her plans to come visit me during her vacation. Super awesome! Of course March seems like a million years away. Damn you D'Arcy for being so on top of things.

I suppose that's all for now. I still haven't washed my dishes from the big medieval cooking party on Sunday (eww gross!) so I think tonight will be house keeping time. Plus I should run to Carrefour for some basic shopping. TP, juice, laundry detergent and other stuffs. I am becoming a master of riding my bike with a ton of stuff. Ok, ok, I might not be as good as this guy:
(PS: seeing people with this much stuff on their bike is not out of the ordinary) I can, however, ride my bike with the front basket full and a huge bag of stuff hanging off of either handle bar. The only problem is taking turns too fast and the bag whaps the front wheel and makes an uncomfortable noise.

Umm...I was supposed to be wrapping this post up and I got distracted.



Monday, 10 November 2008

Uhoh...a Package from Rose

So after my first class this morning I came back to my desk and was in disbelief to see ANOTHER package on my desk. I was beside myself! A package when I only just got one on Thursday? When I saw the purple and pink duct tape on the edges and 'With Love XOXO" on the side, I knew it had to be from Rose. My second thought was "oh dear, this box sure seems squished". When I saw FRAGILE stamped all over the box and what looked like wet spots on the side and bottom, I got really nervous.
I opened it up to see this:
UGHUGHUGH. What a mess. The culprit was a bottle of caramel Bailey's that Rose had put into a plastic bag and surrounded with packing peanuts. Apparently the post office decided to play football with the box. The bottle was broken, then broke through the bag and leaked all over everything. The entire package smelled DELICIOUS but that only made it more heartbreaking to discover that there wasn't a drop of Bailey's left in the bottle.
A hand drawn card. The front was ruined and it was very sticky, but the note inside was intact.
A very sticky magazine.
She sent some chocolate and salt water taffy. Unfortunately, the bailey's seems to have been eating it's way through the wrappers so everything feels a little dissolved. The only real survivor of the massacre was this bottle of raspberry vodka, seen here with it's not so lucky brother of vanilla vodka. Rose doesn't even like vodka and she still went out and bought me my two favorite flavors.
The raspberry vodka and I decided to mourn our fallen friends together. It was delicious and sad.

I am really upset about this. First of all because this lovingly made package for me got destroyed. I can't enjoy what Rose sent to me. Also, Rose spent her time not to mention money to buy everything in this package and send it to me. And it got destroyed before I could enjoy it.

Rose thank you so much for this package and the thought and time that went into it. I'm sorry I don't get to enjoy it the way you intended.


Sunday, 9 November 2008

Bunch o' Pictures

To make up for my last post of lots of words, here are some pictures.

First up, here is how my desk looks now. Much better than my early pictures. You can see the pictures that Emily and Emily and Stacy sent me.
This is a picture of the castle that the students in class D are working on. They only just started painting it. Doesn't it look cool?
When I left my students alone to work on their medieval clothes, most of the girls just made whatever clothes they felt like making. I would come back to a doll dressed like a pop star or a super model. I kept repeating: Long sleeves! Long skirts! A few students actually listened to me. I was really impressed with two girls in Class A who worked to make this outfit:
I normally do dishes in my kitchen sink, but today since I had hardboiled eggs sitting in cold water in my sink, I had to do the dishes in my bathroom. When I was done, I noticed that my bathroom was being taken over by bubbles! They were coming up from the drains in the floor. Weird.

There are lots of prepackaged foods in the 24 hour Family Mart near my school, so I've been trying them. I bought this snack for the first time a week or two ago just cuz I thought it was funny, but now I buy it cuz it's tasty. Pocket bread! It's got like...shrimp salad for a filling.
Lastly, here is a picture of Lucy at Karaoke yesterday. Check out that skirt she is wearing. I like it a bunch.
K! That's all for now. Much love to everyone.


Charity, Karaoke and Cooking!

I apologize to begin with because I know this post will be extra long.

So friday classes and such went without anything really exciting happening. I was amused when June passed me a note during the weekly teacher's meeting. I saw her write it down, fold it up tiny-tiny-tiny and then she threw it across the table at me. Of course it was about classes and not like "Teehee! So-and-so is cute!", but I still liked the idea that she passed me a note and we're teachers....

Friday night I was a bum. I cleaned and did laundry and dishes so I wouldn't feel too bad about staying in. Watched some Battlestar Galactica (did I mention I finished Star Trek?).

Saturday morning I woke up early and headed out to Concordia, the international school next door, to help with the River of Hearts charity event. I got there at 9am and left around 1:45. Other than a 15 minute lunch break I didn't rest at all! It was constant go-go-go. The event was sorting donations and then packing them up. I was in the "packing them up" part of the group. I mostly filled and packed up boxes of baby summer clothes, baby winter clothes, children summer clothes and children winter clothes. I had to make sure that people bringing in donations put them in the right box and when they were full I taped the box closed with packing tape. For most of the time I had another girl helping me. A student from the Shanghai International High School whose English name was Donna. We spoke half Chinese and half English with each other. I had a lot of fun with her and she was very helpful. I made a smilie face in packing tape on her apron which she thought was hilarious.

Things got pretty busy and pretty crazy. We went through boxes labeled "children's winter clothes" faster than anything else. Donna and I were constantly yelling "CHILDREN'S WINTER!" to the box maker/labelers. I lost count of how many boxes I taped closed, but I went through 6 rolls of packing tape. I was a speed demon with that packing tape dispenser by the end of the day. Donna joked that we would dream about packing up boxes that night. Oddly enough, that night when I was trying to fall asleep I was packing boxes in my mind. Like when I play tetris too much and I start playing it in my head. Does any else do that or is it just something my dad and I do? No one? Ok...

Lunch at the charity event was interesting. The sandwich was ham with a fried egg, lettuce, tomato and mayo. I took off the tomato and it was a tasty sandwich. Why does food eaten when starving, tired, and volunteering always taste so good? I must have looked sure of myself on Saturday because I had people coming up to me for everything. They wanted to know which boxes to put things in, where the packed boxes should go, where the bathroom was, which group they should help, even if they could stop and have lunch! I answered what questions I could and for everything else I directed them to someone that actually knew what was going on. I must admit I got a bit of a rush out of the whole event. Working quickly and efficiently and getting to see immediate results of your work always does that. Plus having people coming up to me and asking questions made me feel a little like I was back running a TMT event. It was exhausting though. My feet/ankles were killing me when we were done and I would have gladly taken a nap, but I had other plans!

After the charity event I ran back to my apartment for a quick shower so I wouldn't smell like old clothes. I took a cab to the subway and then took a cab from the subway (yes, you read that right) to the karaoke place I was meeting up with Lucy and her friends. I completely walked past the place before I realized it was the right place. Karaoke can be so fancy here. The building looked like a hotel at first glance. We were on the fifth floor in room 501. There was a buffet with food and drinks and such that was included. We had our own private room with a huge wrap around couch, tables, a big TV and a bunch of microphones. It was only 55RMB (around $7) for 3 hours. I gave Lucy a USB with 4 gigs of music on it since she asked what I liked to listen to. I sang a bunch and had some yummy food stuffs. I mostly just sang stuff if Lucy picked it or it came on randomly and I knew it. The only song I actually picked was Chasing Cars.

When we were done at karaoke, we all split ways. I ended up taking a cab with Evan (the guy I met on Halloween?) to Jing'An temple subway stop. He works for PopCap games. On the way he started talking about donuts, which made me want a donut. He had the cab driver stop a little bit away from the subway and we went to Mr. Donut (I think that's what it was called). I had a glazed donut that was DELICIOUS. Then we ended up going to a DVD place that he goes to. It was more expensive than my DVD lady, but they had "A Knight's Tale" which I have been looking for EVERYWHERE. I figured it would be perfect for class since it mentions a bunch of stuff we talked about in class (heraldry, jousting, sword fighting, animals living in the house with the peasants...hehe) plus it has enough action and modern music to keep the younger crowd interested. After that I took the subway back home.

I decided to let myself wake up naturally this morning since I still haven't been feeling 100% and I had been running on limited sleep a lot lately (trouble sleeping). Apparently I needed it. I went to bed around midnight and woke up at 1pm! Today was pretty much all about getting ready for the cooking with my students. I went to the store to pick up the rest of the stuff I needed. I needed to get a lot of stuff I had asked the school for and they didn't give me or told me I didn't need. Umm...knives and mixing bowls? *sigh* Oh well, paying out of pocket means I get to keep everything. Now I have a bunch more cooking supplies like a ladle, a bunch of bowls, tongs.... After shopping I had to hardboil a ton of eggs. It took two batches since I couldn't fit all the eggs into my pan. It took me three trips to bring everything I needed to the school. I set up everything on a bunch of different tables. Once the students started showing up, we started cooking!

I decided to trim back and only cook three recipes instead of four. It worked out well into a kind of appetizer, main dish, dessert trio. The appetizer was the eggs. Kind of like deviled eggs, except you fry them when you're done. I was greatly amused by the huge audience of students I had as I fried up the eggs they had peeled, cut, mixed and refilled. The main dish was supposed to be an onion soup. The school had given me celery when I asked for parsley. I figured waste not, want not, so it ended up being onion AND celery soup. The base for the soup was beer, which the students were going crazy about. When I asked them why the base of a medieval soup might be beer, one student answered immediately (and in Chinese) that water usually wasn't clean. Aha! They remembered something from class! Once the soup was cooked, the recipe said to serve it in a bowl with a slice of bread at the bottom. Which we did. Most students weren't crazy about the soup, but about 4 of them really liked it and went back for more. Dessert was a kind of cherry pottage. I was going a bit crazy because I couldn't find cherries anywhere in any form except jam. I finally found them at imported food store in a can. It was a lot of money to dish out for two cans of cherries, but I really wanted to make the recipe. Most students liked the dessert dish best. I think I did too.

A few students stayed to help me clean up, though most left to go back to their classes when they were done eating. I recruited a few to help me bring stuff back to my apartment so I wouldn't have to take a ton of trips again. My sink is now filled with dirty dishes. I gave them all a rinse, but all my dish towels are dirty and I don't have a drying rack. I'll have to clean them tomorrow. I think cooking went mostly well.

My phone keeps turning itself on silent in my pocket. Which means I missed a call from the taichi man early tonight. I haven't been back since I went with Charlotte and he wasn't there. I've been busy or sick pretty much everyday and it had gotten to the point I hadn't been back in so long I was a bit embarrassed. Considering the total misunderstanding when I tried to call him back last time, I think I am going to cross my fingers and hope he calls again. I really do want to go back a learn more.

Today when I was riding back from the store I felt absolutely wonderful just riding my bike. After cooking tonight I figured I would go back out again. I don't know how far I went. I just turned down the main street off of the road I live on and started riding. Once I got bored I rode back. It was a nice long ride in the cold night air. One guy who was bundled up like an Eskimo saw me bike riding in my shorts, t-shirt, and thin sweater and laughed hysterically. Ahh...silly people with cold blood.

I also had a weird stroke of luck with my DVD lady. I bought seasons 1-3 in a box set of Battlestar Galactica a few days ago. Disk three wasn't working so I brought that one disk back to her to exchange it. She told me she didn't have the 1-3 box set anymore but had 1-4 and I could exchange one set for the other and pay the difference. I figured what the heck, I wanted to get season 4 eventually anyway. Turns out that because of the way the episodes were split up for the different sets, there was only one more disk in the 4 season set than the 3 season set. So I got a much better deal than if I had bought season 4 by itself later. Whoo.

Ok, that was a super long post. Now I am going to post an entry with a ton of pictures in it.


Friday, 7 November 2008

Package From Emily!

Oh joys of joys! Another package!
This one is from Emily Gaudinski, my dear friend from high school. :-)

I got this actually delivered to my desk while I was still at work. Didn't have to go pick it up at the front gate like the other two. In my impatience and joy I ripped everything open before I got back to my apartment to take pictures, but here they are after I already opened it and put everything back. Hehe...If you look super extra hard at the above picture you might notice that it's already been opened. Emily had wrapped a few of the contents in pretty paper, but like I said I opened everything up at the office so you only get the "after" pictures. Here are the contents of said package:

This package is absolutely perfect. Really. It's got everything. It's got the food from home with the smarties and Cheezits. The mad libs are great activities for class. The army men are kind of an inside joke and will make me think of her and feel protected. The picture frame decorated with fortune cookie fortunes is awesome. The quote inside, if you can't read it, says "Only love can be divided endlessly and still not diminish." My personal favorites from this package, though, are the bag with the leaves and the envelope with no-bake cookie recipes. Two things I have been really missing from home: autumn and baking!

I have the picture frame and army men set up on my desk now. My cubicle feels so much better now, thanks to Emily G, Emily S and Stacy.

I haven't been to the post office in weeks because I always seem to be out somewhere on Saturdays, so I've been getting all this love and sending nothing back. Bad Stephanie. This weekend is no different, sadly, since I am volunteering at the school next door to sort donated clothes and then meeting up with Lucy and friends in Puxi for karaoke.

This picture is mostly just for Bonnie. I was talking to her online a couple of days ago and said I thought my outfit that day was cute. She said to take a picture, so here it is.
That's all for now.

Much love,


Thursday, 6 November 2008

Frogs and Swords

When I came in this morning, the school secretary greeted me with a bag of eggs. Ha. She has been bringing in stuff I need for cooking bit by bit. I need to hardboil most of the eggs before Sunday so I asked if I could start getting the food early. It sucks that Sunday is the only time I could hold the cooking meeting since some students can't come in at that time, but I have to work with what I have.

Today I ate frog for lunch. And as I put it to Alicia, it tasted as though a fish and chicken mated and had a tasty baby. I also had chicken in a sauce that I'm guessing was supposed to taste like BBQ, but tasted mostly like ketchup.

After lunch I taught a little sword fighting. I started with one three students but when others saw us through the windows and came out to join, I had a big group. Some took it seriously and others just started whacking at each other with the PVC pipe I gave them to use. I showed them the scar on my nose and the one on my hand as encouragement to not kill each other. I couldn't help but laugh a little whenever one of them got whacked on the knuckles when they were being foolish. I choreographed a short 9 move fight with one of my students (Jackey) which he enjoyed immensely and wanted to do over and over.

Now it's pouring rain outside. I'm glad it didn't start until now.

I am amused because I used to have problems with my students coming in late sometimes. I never said anything to them, just marked them late on my attendance sheet. My first clue that the students actually were being contacted about their lateness was when a student came to me in my office and complained about being marked late so often. My response was simple. Don't be late. I've noticed now that sometimes students will run into my room to avoid being late.

My brain still feels like it's not turned on.

Imma go for now. Maybe soon I will have a post that makes sense and has some pictures.



Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Too Much At Once?

I have been feeling a bit sick these past few days and I can't help but wonder if it's because I've been stretching myself a bit thin. Trying to teach 60 plus students any number of different medieval projects in a short period of time takes it's toll on a person. Especially after a very busy weekend. This weekend I already have plans for all of Saturday.

The students have had mixed reactions to the projects. For example, a student in class B, Alex, is very excited to be learning how to make chainmail. He caught on very quickly so I gave him a pocketful of rings for him to keep working on after class ended. He came back later on in the same day to ask for more. Woah. Also, Emily and William from class D are building a really cool model castle out of cardboard. It even has a drawbridge that you can wind up and down. Some students seem to not care at all and work on work for other classes or try to play games on their electronic dictionaries when I'm not looking. First I encourage them to work on another medieval project if they think their first choice is boring. Second time I notice them not working I remind them that class participation is part of their grade. After that there really isn't much I can do. Luckily the uninterested students seem to be a small minority. It's discouraging, but I try not to focus on it.

Next week is their midterms and even though we hold some normal class periods, the other teachers tell me that they usually let them use their class periods to study. I think I'm going to show some medieval themed movies and give the students the option of watching the movies or studying. I figure a little stress relief would be welcome during midterms. Either studying or taking tests all day long can't be healthy.

Today, I came back to my apartment to eat lunch. When I feel sick I want food from home, not Chinese food. Lunch was interesting though, since I had a rather impromptu webchat with Alicia, Ciara, Michelle and Ulana from back at Drew. It was a lot of fun to talk to them. We took turns entertaining each other. It was a nice pick me up in the middle of my day.

I've been so exhausted. I think I might not actually be that sick it's just because I'm so tired that I feel so crappy. I've gone to bed at a normal time the last two nights and haven't been able to fall asleep. Then I keep waking up in the middle of the night. June gave me some Chinese herbal medicine. I'm going to take it before bed and hope for the best. I'm so tired I feel like I can't think straight.
This picture is really just for Dave. He had posted about this Japanese snack food in his food blog and when I was shopping yesterday I found them in the imported food section. I knew I had to buy a box and give them a try. I agree with him about how tasty they are. The chocolate middle is rich without being overly sweet and the cookie buns have a great crunch to them. And they are so cute!

Anyway, like I said, I can't think straight. I will probably go to bed super early tonight in attempts to recharge myself.

Much love,


Sunday, 2 November 2008

Halloween Fun

So Friday was Halloween. There was no staff meeting on Friday so I skipped out a bit early to head back to my apartment. I then had about a FOUR HOUR LONG webcam chat with Alicia Rapp from back at Drew. I was more than happy to talk to someone from home but that meant that the silly girl stayed up from 1am to 5am. Yessh.

After that I headed out to meet up with Andrew and Charlotte to go out for the night. First we went out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant near their apartment. I rode Charlotte's bike and she sat on the back of Andrew's. Delicious eggplant. And my dish of beef and mushrooms was yummers. Then we headed back to their place to costume up and head out. The subway ride to the bar was ridiculous since we were all in costume and I looked rather silly as a jester. I smiled and waved to every kid I caught staring at me.

The bar we went to was called I <3 Shanghai. We met up with Lucy and her friends and hung out. There was much dancing and a some drinking. My only real complaint was that the bar was so smoky it made my eyes hurt. (Yeah, smoking at bars is still legal in China). It was a little weird when I saw student from my high school. Not a kid from my class, but still. The bar did seem to be full of young expat kids as well. I also spent a good part of the night sitting next to a co-worker of Lucy's friend, named Evan, and talking geek. Mostly Star Trek, especially since I am on season 7 and almost done with the series. We didn't stay too late since Charlotte had tutoring in the morning. We headed back to their place, stopping only for quick munchies on the way back. Then bed.

Yesterday after waking up and heading back to my apartment, I had a sort of video chat with Bonnie. She doesn't have a webcam so I could only hear her and she could see and hear me. We synchronized our efforts and watched "P.S. I Love You" at the same time, and knitted. It was fun. :-)

Saturday night I went on a pub crawl. I had asked Iris to go with me so that I would have someone to hang out with at the crawl that I knew. She never showed up. Luckily for me, though, there was someone there I had met at the wine tasting (Ron) and he and I hung out for the night. We went to 8 different bars, riding on three huge buses in between. People had some pretty interesting costumes. There was a Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama on our bus, as well as a praying mantis, monk, Michael Phelps, and a peacock. My favorite was probably the impressive Sarah Palin look alike that was on another bus. There were all sorts of contests on the bus and at some bars we got free drinks. There was one bar where there were even people going around with free pizza! It was SOOO GOOD. Ron and I lurked around the entrance to the kitchen area so we could snag more mini slices.

I had a ton of fun last night and didn't get home until around 3am. Today I am meeting up with a student and we are going to pick up supplies to make medieval clothes for next week. This weekend has been busy busy busy. I am quite tired. I hope Cecilia and I find everything we need quickly so I can come back and take a nap or get to bed early. With all my running around I haven't had time to clean my poor messy apartment.

I should sign off and make some lunch before I have to meet up with my student. Here are some pictures from Friday night. I don't have any from last night yet.

This is my costume:

I got the hat at Carrefour. I made the shirt by cutting up and sewing back together three plain t-shirts in different colors. The trim on my sleeves and knees is just braided ribbon with bells on it. The belt pouch I made by sewing together the sleeves I cut off my shirt. Ta-da! Jester!
This is me being a show boat and juggling at I Love Shanghai. Charlotte and Andrew said I should use it as my drunk test. After every round of drinking, see how well I can still juggle. I am amused by the look of concentration on my face.

This is Evan, the guy I talked geek with. He said himself he wasn't sure what his costume was. It went from rugby player to Indian to cat.

Lastly, me and Lucy! She was dressed as a lovely hula girl. We busted out some real hula dancing in between the normal club dancing.

Anyway, have to run now. Much love everyone!