September 2014

大家好!今天是我的生日,我请日记一杯咖啡。好吃了!Hi Everybody! Today is my birthday, I treated myself to a cup of coffee, it was delicious! I thought you might like to hear that school is going well, my teacher for comprehensive Chinese is wonderful and my classmates are just as great. My speaking/listening teacher is really nice though his class is tough to sit through but since I learn a lot about how to say words I don't complain. I began Chinese Calligraphy and it is difficult but very interesting. Our teacher told us it is only during times of wealth that China has time to create works of Calligraphy and China is seeing more money therefore there are more people taking up the art.

On my search for coffee today I went to Wanda Plaza which is a shopping area about 10 minutes walk from my apartment. It is often crowded but it has Ito Yokado which is a Japanese store that has everything from household supplies to groceries that are quality so I tend to buy my food there. When I got to the square/plaza it had the huge blow up children's toys like bounce houses and a blow up climbing wall and those bungee jumping activities. Many kids and their mom's were playing on those. Next to that was the Korean Food Festival 2014 with all sorts of booths set up and a stage. I mingled and checked out some of the booths and watched some Korean drummer girls perform, they were very good and I'm glad they were filming their performance as they deserve recognition for their talent. Today was another lesson in contrast though. As I walked back towards the apartment I went from listening to Korean drumming to hearing Frosty the Snowman coming from a convenience store a half block down. I'm sure people were wondering why I was holding in my laughter when I passed the kids toys that were blaring the Frosty song in the street. In general it is true that Chengdu is very noisy, from cars to people, to music being played on scooters and bikes or people playing movies on their phones while they walk. That doesn't even include the music pumping out of the shops that line every street.

Tomorrow I have a meet and greet at the American Consulate for Gilman and Fulbright scholars which I am looking forward to attending after class. I hope you all are enjoying the tail end of September as much as I am and I hope to be able to post more pictures soon.

A picture of what coffee and macaroons look like here in Chengdu. Very common to see macaroons as the French and European pastry business is quite large here.
coffee and macaroons

Hi Everyone! So some of you already know I went on a large adventure with Professor Stevan Harrell, Noah my partner in research, and another UW group of students to the mountains. We stayed in Yangjuan which is a small village tucked into a valley surrounded by mountains. It is really beautiful and the people are very special and kind. They gave us rooms to stay in, cooked meals for our group and also helped us find guides to show us the village and help interview subjects for our research. It was a wonderful time though I missed showering for 6 days.

What impressed me the most about that trip was the generosity and honest goodness the people showed us. The Nuosu/Yi people are an ethnic minority group in China. When I look at them physically they remind me of some Native American groups in America. The Nuosu in Yangjuan were warm, and loving people and had a strong sense of honor and community. I'm incredibly lucky to have spent time with them, and also to have the opportunity to spend more with them for my research this year. I was fairly ill while up there as I could not eat without immediately getting sick and I got a little weak, but I was able to go a little slower when we hiked the hillsides for great views of the village and I enjoyed myself no less for the lack of nutrients.

Professor Harrell said if he could sum up our trip into one word it would be "mud." I must agree with that. It was raining heavily just before we got there and the entire time we were there. Since the dirt is a mixture of clay it was incredibly slippery. I wore a Chinese brand of Crocs, I call them my rubber shoes since they don't have any fabric and are easy to clean, but I still had problems since the mud wanted to steal my shoes into its great depths.

So after leaving Yangjuan, Noah, Professor Harrell, and myself went to Xichang which is a larger city (smaller than Chengdu but larger than Yangjuan by a lot)and interviewed some teachers and students there. We also visited a museum about the Yi culture which was very interesting though sometimes insulting as the Han Chinese don't think highly of the Yi people and consider them still to be in a slave society. The museum is located on this huge hill overlooking a lake in what is considered a banana belt region so it is quite tropical. I have a picture of the monkey who decided my apple soda was his and I chose not to argue. I would feel really silly if I had to go through rabies shots over an apple soda that cost $0.50 USD.

After returning to Chengdu from Xichang, Noah and I have been running ragged trying to get ready for school, get registered with the Public Safety Bureau and meet our teachers all while attending lectures and meetings with important people with Professor Harrell. So I feel this post is late, but it was unavoidable and worth the wait. We have made some great connections in Chengdu, Xichang, and Yangjuan and will be heading back in the near future to continue our research.

Since this weekend is the Autumn Moon Festival we have Monday off and begin classes Tuesday morning. I am looking forward to settling down and getting into a routine. Its been great getting back to my apartment and purchasing a scooter for travelling to and from school. I'm really happy to be here.

A side story about mama pig: I posted a picture here because she was an introduction to my adventure. When we got off the 6 hour bus ride which was not by any means smooth as the roads were trashed from the rain and many people got very ill while travelling, we were greeted by some friends of Professor Harrell who took us to their house which is above their orchards and fields. The family was very warm and welcoming and had sacrificed a pig in our honor for dinner. It was delicious in case you were wondering :) So before we left for the next hour long drive I asked to use the toilet. I was directed to a stone building near the entrance of the compound. Upon entry I found mama pig and her very short wall next to the squat toilet (really its a hole in the ground) and her baby piglets in a pen with a gate that faces the toilet. So laughing, or trying not to in all reality, I proceeded to do my business while the piglets got their front row view of my hind end and mama pig jumped onto the short wall and proceeded to drool into my shoe. I was laughing so hard it was almost impossible to compose myself and exit the building and find the hose to wash my foot off. That my friends was my introduction to outhouses in China.

Hi Everyone, I am home in Chengdu again. I will tell you all about my time in Yangjuan and elsewhere shortly. Stevan Harrell, our coordinator through the UW-SU program has been in Chengdu and taken Noah and myself all around the north part of Yunnan to do our research. I promise more is to come in the next couple days as I clean up my pictures and ready them for your viewing.

This week we have taken our placement tests for classes and all of us have been put into appropriate classes. I met my teacher today, she is super sweet and her English is wonderful so I expect no problems. She also has a great sense of humor which is appreciated.

Eason, a coordinator from SU helped a few foreign students out, myself included, to find transportation. I bought an electric scooter for less than $200 USD. It is nice, it has a racing suspension so it rides really well. I parked it in my apartment's garage for only $0.50 per day. It is a nice scooter and has plenty of power, ok really it intimidates me since it will go 40mph and a helmet is not required!

So, next Tuesday we begin classes and for this weekend I plan on working on my research and partying with the other foreign students and our network of Chinese friends. Tomorrow we celebrate Eason's test being over and also the beginning of our school year after the Autumn Moon Festival (Monday).

Please keep an eye out for another posting soon as I will be working on that as well this weekend. Just in case you were wondering what I miss about America: clothes dryers, consistent hot water, mirrors, wall clocks, soap/hand towels or dryers and toilet paper in public restrooms, quality chocolate, and driving!