Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Settling In

I'm starting to get into the swing of things around here. This is my second week of classes, which I've really been enjoying. I especially like teaching writing to my undergraduates. English was usually one of my favorite classes, so it makes sense. I'm excited to see improvements in their writing - because of what I taught them!

I hope everyone is staying well; I've heard the swine flu is in full swing in the US. Here it's not yet very widespread. There has only been one case on campus, but he was immediately taken to the hospital. Now all the foreign teachers are required to have their temperature taken before we leave the building every day. I'm not sure for whose protection it is, but we can just report a tempterature that we take ourselves in our room, so it's not really any inconvenience. I heard that during the SARS crisis they completely closed campus for two weeks - no one in or out! I'm hoping nothing so serious happens for the swine flu here.

Katherine, another foreign teacher, moved in next door to me last weekend. She's from Toronto, but born in Quanzhou, so her family showed me around the city. We went to the beach for a seafood restaurant they really like, and then we visited a tea house a little outside the city proper. It was really beautiful, so I've included a couple pictures.

I've also been cooking my own meals. I love cooking, so I couldn't resist showing a few of the dishes I've tried to make. Apologies to the non food-obsessed. :)

Fish balls and baby bok choy - the first meal I made for myself here! There should be rice too. Rice cookers, I would like to add, are magic. Really. Perfect rice without any fuss.

I tried to make quail eggs into a dish. The dish didn't work so well, but i think the eggs look really neat.

Carnations - a gift from Katherine's family. They looked so neat, but when I added them to the soup...

It looks pretty good, no? But you can't see the flowers at all. The petals shrunk into near invisibility. (The soup was still delicious.)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My New Home

"Returning from seeing a friend off at the shore, one feels as far away as the horizon."
-Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi

My move is finally complete. I left behind my friends in Shanghai for a completely new life here in Quanzhou. It was hard to say goodbye, but I was ready for the change. Though I've only been here a week, it seems like I'm where I am supposed to be. I taught my first few classes(!), which were incredibly intimidating but also really enjoyable. Creating syllabi, correcting papers, teaching writing skills, and reviewing grammar: it's all kind of fun for me. I only have 10 classroom hours per week, so I also have plenty of time to work on my Chinese. I've found a Chinese tutor, and I'm so excited to start seeing some improvements!

Huaqiao university has quite a beautiful campus, of which I've included some pictures here:

This is the view from my window of campus and the surrounding area. The place where I am is set into the hills - rather picturesque, no?

One of many tree-lined streets. The buildings here tend to be rather block-like and uninspired, but there are lots of trees and gardens to make up for it.

The rather impressive entrance to the school. Note the blue skies!

There are lots of palm trees to remind me that I'm living in a tropical area, as if the heat and humidity weren't enough. I'm told that it will cool down in the beginning of October. Agh!

The following pictures probably fall into the category, "things in which only a mother would be interested." I've posted some pictures of my apartment, which, by the way, is HUGE. I have a study which I've pretty much abandoned, as I just don't need that much room. Overall though, it's a nice apartment, if rather spartan. The only downside? It's on the 6th floor, and there isn't an elevator.

Here's the entrance. I love the coat rack! My bookshelf needs a lot more books though.

My living room furniture is made of hardwood, which is lovely, but not very comfortable.

My cute little kitchen table. I'm currently using a scarf as a tablecloth until I have the money to buy a real tablecloth. It's not like I'm going to need a scarf anytime soon anyway. ;)

My kitchen! No oven, but a perfectly serviceable stove and microwave. They even provided me with a rice cooker and a wok!

My (already messy) desk. I put a map of Carrboro up above it, in case I get homesick. The desk used to be in my study, but there was plenty of space in my bedroom.

Lastly, my bed. Hard as a rock, of course, but I'm already used to it. In the background is a second desk, which I'm using as a vanity of sorts. It's also covered by one of my scarves right now...