I have been trying to load pictures, but I have not been getting good enough internet lately. I have decided to skip the pictures for now and post anyway. I hope my words alone can keep you all interested!
I thought I would update you all on my life here. It's still quite warm - it gets up into the 80s most days. Occasionally in the evening I need a sweatshirt, but mostly it's just plain gorgeous.
I'm sure you've all been curious about the following:
Chinese bathrooms: not so great. I'm not a big fan of the squatting toilet. On the bright side, there really shouldn't be any bathrooms in the US that will bother me, save perhaps at the State Fair.
The food: great, and not to mention super-cheap. I do miss Western food sometimes, and there are certainly days when all I really want for lunch is a sandwich, but for the most part I like Chinese food just fine. I'm a big fan of bubble milk tea - it's cold tea sweetened with milk, and these little black tapioca balls at the bottom. Odd at first, but extremely addicting. You can buy it at pretty much every other eatery, we find. We have also recently discovered the wonders of street food. There are street vendors along most of the streets selling extremely delicious, ridiculously cheap, and horribly unhealthy food. One night last week we were wandering a street we hadn't been to before, and there were no restaurants in the vicinity, but there were street vendors selling fried rice, dumplings, and other fried lovely things that I don't know the name of. It ended up being one of the best dinners we'd had yet (for about 75 US cents!)
Other students: Living in the international students' dorm, I've met a lot of other foreigners studying abroad in China. Our group often hangs out with a group of students from Holland and another group from Korea. It's especially neat to spend time with the Koreans because the common language tends to be Chinese! They can speak a bit of English, but we actually tend to communicate better via Chinese. It's really cool!
A typical day for me: I have Chinese language class for 3 hours every day, and culture class for an hour and a half Tuesday through Thursday. My homework load tends to be very manageable, and 2 to 3 times a week I try to work out with some of the other people in my group. One guy used to be a professional trainer, so he designs some great workouts for us. It's really fun to work out with everyone, and it's nice to get some exercise.
This Thanksgiving we're going to head to Shanghai for the long weekend, and I hope to have some cool stories to tell.