Friday, August 29, 2008

Is that a beak?

Finally, an outlet to tell all of the things that have happened! Yesterday was our first full day in Qufu and Joni Strohm, one of the ELIC teachers here, has been a beacon of hope in a very confusing place. Qufu is beautiful and I am thrilled to be here, but the language barrier can make things seem a bit overwhelming and isolating. Yesterday we ventured to the grocery store which involved a lot of impromptu sign language: pantomiming washing my hair for shampoo, pretending to brush my teeth for toothpaste, etc. The salesgirls were very helpful and actually followed Eliza and I around. I wasn't sure whether it was out of curiosity or suspicion, either way it was like having an audience while doing our mundane everyday shopping. For lunch Joni took us to a restaurant right behind our housing and it was DELICIOUS!!!! We had some pork, but I must say the vegetable dishes were the highlight of the meal. Then we got a tour of the tree-lined campus and the local market where they sell everything from fresh baked bread to pet hamsters. (The PET part was emphasized to me by Joni after I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the hamster stand next to the roasted chicken stand.) Though the day was quite exciting, I must say dinner was the highlight. Eliza and I went to Qufu Normal's other campus and met up with Olivia, Rachel, Nick, and Karrin and planned on feasting on the left overs they had from lunch. We decided against eating the leftover soup that the waiters just poured in a plastic bag. All was going smoothly until Rachel noticed that a chunk of the chicken dish had eyes and a beak. After a day of getting used to a new foreign city we decided to save the adventurous eating for another meal.
Today was more about setting up our apartments. After an early morning of tea and some highly entertaining, but altogether unintelligible children's t.v. shows, Eliza and I cleaned our apartments then Joni took us to one of the large department stores in town. Because KFC is one of the main sites at the department store we met Nick, Rachel, and Olivia there. I thought I ordered a chicken sandwich, but it turned out to be fish. I have to say it was much fresher and more authentic than it would have been in the U.S.; I could see the scales which actually comforted me more than anything. A real fish sandwich is better than a processed one no matter what country you are in. After lunch there was more pantomiming in the department store. I successfully bought the cheapest rice cooker I could find and a top sheet for my bed. I have yet to find a lamp or a throw rug, though. Now I am off again to the grocery store where I will buy Mi, or uncooked rice and later we are all going to Karaoke.
...If any of you are thinking "isn't she supposed to be teaching, not eating and shopping?", well the school year starts Monday. I am teaching Freshmen Oral English mostly and as for now that is all I know. The school doesn't have a schedule for me or textbooks.... guess that's life here.

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