Saturday, March 31, 2012

March 31; you have to work for your money

Day 55
It’s tomb sweeping day weekend, which means Chinese people visit their ancestors in cemeteries and pay their respects. This year, the holiday falls on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. You would think that meant a five day weekend, but that’s not how things work in China -- you have to work for your money. I have to make up for the holidays meaning working on the weekend. Lucky for me, I only have to work Saturday.

After work, we decided to go to Pizza Hut for dinner. I was craving Italian food and Pizza Hut was the closest thing. Pasta was decent.
 Salmon and spaghetti with white sauce = 39 RMB 

 Back at the dorm, we heard something explode. As we peeped out the room to see what was going on, it was clear to see we weren't the only ones who heard the noise. We came out of our rooms to see what happened and all we saw were shards of metal scattered outside the hot water room. The container must have exploded. Instead of going back to our rooms like most normal people, we stood in the middle of the hallway talking about sci-fi, the ride to Tianjin, sharing whipped cream, and trying on John’s new sailor hat.
Capt'n John, at your service.
Well equipped with a can of  some sort of a Chinese beverage at his feet.
apparently Sigrid looks a bit like female Hitler
TanG just looks boss.
"Hey Kristie say chu chu "
Apparently I look a bit like Kim Jong Il.
"I'm the wrong type of Korean!"

March 30; The Friday Routine

Day 54
Last week we broke our Friday routine/ritual for a special lunch with our classmates and teacher. This week, we stuck with it. So, what’s the routine?
We go to class, where we discuss stories, I translate random English sentences to Chinese, and I learn stuff about China. Something interesting I learned this week was that all Chinese students go through mandatory basic military training once they reach the age of 18. There is no way to get out of it and it’s a part of their education. Students are shipped out to the middle of nowhere where they wake up at 5:30 every morning to do drills to improve their “endurance.” The food is nasty and tasks includes marching, chanting, and standing outside in the scorching hot sun for three hours. It you move (even to wipe your sweat) the drill sergeants can and will punish you. What’s punishment? Another three hours in the sun.
Also, for those of you wondering if Chinese students know about American shows like Big Bang Theory, Gossip Girl, and even Jersey Shore…the answer is yes. They are aware that such shows. Not as sheltered off from the rest of the world as you thought.
After class, we go to Macker’s (what the Aussies call McDonald’s) to fuel up for the shopping spree at the Zoo Market.
CURLY FRIES!!!!! bring curly fries to Toronto!!
My theme this week was silky, floraly summer clothes.
cotton, strapless summery floral dress
Asking price: 39RMB
Buying price:  30RMB
silky summery floral print dress
Asking price: 39 RMB
Buying price: 30 RMB
In addition to the start of my summer clothes, I got a airy blouse and this scarf. You see, in between winter and summer, there’s a season called spring. In China’s version of spring, the winds are gusty and the floors and dusty which creates sandstorms and annoyance. I decided to use a scarf instead of rocking the hospital mask to protect my face from Beijing dirt.
To end off our Friday night, we had dinner with our foreign teacher friends.
And that is basically how every Friday goes down.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

March 28; tabula rasa trivia

Day 52
Catherine and I headed to La Bamba's for lunch. I finally got my eggplant sandwich for 10 RMB. A
nd then we realized.... we haven't been eating much Chinese food.
soooo worth it!
On another literally, note again, I found a blank piece of paper on the door. I take it as a sign that someone else is enjoying having written conversations with anonymous people.  I love dorm life.

March 26; dorm trivia continued...

Day 50
I rarely have dinner at the cafeteria now that I cook/ go out to eat a lot. Since I was too lazy to cook/go out today, I went to the cafeteria to see what they were serving up this evening. There was this spaghetti looking thing and although I didn’t expect it to taste like spaghetti, it tasted better than it looked.
noodles and winter melon.
It looks pretty wormy here, but I assure you it's not!
On, literally, another note, after John answered the first trivia questions I posted another question on his door. So apparently, the ultrasauras was the largest dinosaur to have ever existed.

March 25; Revisiting Sanlitun

Day 49
It was a beautiful day, and what a better way to spend it than in one of the hippest areas in Beijing: Sanlitun.
a legit apple store. full of geniuses too!
Cat looking at the big screen.

You want shoes? I have many beautiful shoes. I give you discount!
Sigrid took us to a place called Bookworm, which is a mix between cafe/library/bookstore. You can buy food, read books, and purchase books all under one roof. The store was pretty much populated with foreigners or Chinese people with foreigner speaking buddies.
Sigrid, totally in her element.
After going past a handful of expensive restaurants (Sanliton is full of rich foreigners), we found a place that was reasonably priced for our student budget. All Day’s had good service, a super clean washroom, and an amazing array of condiments.
Ketchup – yay! Tabasco sauce- yay!!! Kraft Parmesan cheese – YAAAAAY!!!!
 minestrone soup = 12 RMB
(so freaking delicious!) 
Mushroom and Cheese Doria = 22 RMB
All Day’s is officially one of my favourite western places to eat at in Beijing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March 24; it's a fruits basket kind of day

Day 48
Our friend Carol invited us out to visit the fruits market this afternoon. The prices of the fruits and veggies were so much cheaper than grocery stores and the selection was so much fresher as well! The best part is, it’s really close to the residence. I see myself regularly getting my suggested intake of vitamin C.
Kristie and her pineapples!
We headed out to Pho Diaz once again to celebrate Cat’s half birthday. To briefly explain the concept of half birthday, none of us Canadian girls have birthdays in the first half of the year, so we decided to celebrate our half birthday instead. For example, my birthday is November 26 so my half birthday is May 26.  Anyways, I was once again last to get my food but the rice filled pineapple was worth the wait.
Seafood fried rice in pineapple  = 49 RMB
I love food in fruits! 
Fact: People go train to train busking on the subway. There are usually creepy people with their mics, freaky music, and canes but tonight there was a dude with an acoustic guitar and a nice voice. A different scene, but a much nicer one. 

March 23; breaking barriers

Day 47
In my comparative literature class, everyone is expected to introduce themselves through a presentation. It was my turn today and ahead I went  to talk about myself and Scarborough with my very hoarse voice. After class, a classmate approached me and said she was too kei jia (Hakka Chinese). Apparently, in her 2-3 years at the university she had never met another Hakka person and she was so excited to have finally met one. I was pretty darn excited too!! I never thought I'd meet a Hakka person so soon, let alone meet a group of people who actually knew what Hakka was (well actually, someone in my class was nice enough to translate Hakka in putonghua. I guess Chinese people know what Hakka is if I say kei jia instead of Hakka...).

We discussed some differences in terms of how friendship forms in Canadian life and Chinese life. In Chinese culture, it takes more than a few classes to invite someone out for lunch. Friendship is a slow process. In Canada, it can take as little as one meeting before someone invites you out for lunch. We don't need to like-like someone before hanging out with them. I guess North Americans are pretty chill when it comes to these things. Personally, I like the North American way of doing things. 

The girlies were planning to go for hot pot and as they were inviting professor out, I took my chances and invited "my friend" to join us. With great success, we had our professor and two new friends joining us for lunch. Yay, we're breaking barriers!
warm soy milk
beef, fish, and my favourite -- leaves!
It was a sponge-y cake sort of thing. Pretty flavourless actually.
bean curd - you drop this beauty in your soup. Unfortunately, it tends to unravel when it's ready to be eaten.
at the end of the meal, you have a choice of either popsicle or gum. I couldn't eat cold things since my throat was bleeh, so I took the stick of gum.
We went our separate ways after lunch. While they went back to school, we went shopping to a new place. Xidan is a huge shopping district downtown Beijing full of designer things. Although things are expensive here, I'd definitely make another trip here to wander around the lively streets.
Heeey, it's J.Leto!
now that bag looks familiar....
Inside the market, there was a K-City =)
After a day of breaking boundaries, we ended up within our usual boundaries in WDK with our wonderful foreign teacher friends. What can I say, China keeps getting better. 

March 22; it's dorm trivia time on the sixth floor!

Day 46
I woke up with a voice that was rapidly fading. I took this opportune moment to introduce my class to the best North American children's show out there, Arthur. Kids loved it. (yeees!)

On another note, a few days ago, I thought it would be fun to slip anonymous letters under the doors of a few people. I left trivia questions for John and after a few days he posted his answers on his door.
This is gonna be fun!

March 21; bring it all back

Day 45
We had our first Chinese painting class today.
We painted cherries.

Also, I found out S Club 7 is officially reuninted. YAAAAAY!!!
Does this song bring it all back?
Although I haven't been completely up to date with pop culture, I'm not always out of the loop.

March 20; Dungeons and Dragons

Day 44
Once upon a time -before the time of internet, cell phones, and technology - kids used to gather around the table with nothing but their imaginations to play the good old fashioned game of D&D.
That's exactly what we girls did on the lovely Tuesday night with the help of our dungeon master, John. 
Character sheets
We spent about 2 hours creating our characters and buying imaginary stuff from the store. At the end of the two hours, we were too exhausted to play, but at least our characters will be ready for next time! 
My character's name is Camino. He's a 42 year old half elf/half human sorcerer who has his own bar. 
We officially (sorta) declared Tuesday as D&D night. Let's see how long this will work out for....

 If you aren't familiar with the game, check out this video: 

Also, my students gave me stuff today. A used eraser, crumpled cootie catcher, and a uncoloured "world's greatest dad" picture. Their gifts keep on getting better and better!