Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A year ago today.

It's an interesting thought that a year ago today I was sharing a bed with a Chinese girl, biking to school, living of NZ$2 noodles and fried rice, and hand scrubbing clothes daily!

About to go into this 300 level Chinese Exam at 9.30am tomorrow morning naturally I can only think of being back in the midst of the Chinese culture! The rickshaws, the lack of driving rules, the utter confusion about the use of a seat belt and the like. The food and the stalls, the chickens and the sheer amount of people. And the lack of internet access that disabled me from being able to keep up to date with news feeds from stuff let alone keeping up with this blog! It clearly had ceased about a month ago this time last year.

Which implies how hard it is to access international news in China. One of the tactics the government has is simply making it what the chinese call "ma fan" essentially it means difficult, in a sense that one opts not to bother. It corresponds with a topic that I have spent a solid amount of the last 72 hours studying: "To suffer losses is good fortune" and "Ignorance is Bliss."

The latter is probably of the most interest. It's the 'turn a blind eye' theory, and apparently that is bliss? A lack of information of say the Egyption Revolution that just seemed to be unheard of in China at the time, is bliss? Knowledge of the revolution had the potential to create a few discrepencies such as political activism, but is this not the peoples right? Or is it in the best interest for everyone to keep the population oblivious, and 'ignorant', and continue on with life as is, without knowledge that they could have the ability to change their circumstance?

Is ignorance really bliss?

As far as they know, this is all they've ever had, all they've got, and all they're going to have. This is China. And they are happy with that. And proud of their home country. To a westerners eyes it seems incredibly hopeless and immobile, but to a Chinese person it's simply their way of life. Is being ignorant of your possibilities truly blissful? And is knowing about them and always striving to increase them sidetracking people from being blissfully happy in the state that we are in? Or should we always be striving for more?

Such is the double edged sword of knowledge and power.

Who is better to make these decisions, back seat bureaucrats or YOU?!

Saturday, September 4, 2010


School was the most amazing experience yet!
6.20 wake up aside, the ride to school with ever single person string at the foreigner on the bike, the assembly, meeting our class and playing basketball with all the kids at school was AMAZING! And ofcourse meeting my second parents after school and our late night shao kao with the foreign english teacher was a great way to finish an amazing day!

Ok, so firstly we spent the morning at the foreign office where we drank nescafe (!!!!!) andtalked about admin stuff etc and then we met 4 english teachers from England all from 21 to 2! There's just something about meeting foreigners that speak your language going through the same intense culture shock as you in the middle of China in the same school about to go through the same adventure as you that just demands instant friends for life! We each talked about our adventures so far, the rabbits head the rat in the toilet, one of the teachers talked about trying to ask for tampons in the supermarket and being taken to instant noodles (apparently the word is the same with different tones!). Then it was time for assembly, unbeknown to us we were a main feature of this assemby! We were taken to the front, by the foot of the stage and we watched the headmaster speaking to over 2000 students all lined up in their classes of 50 - 65 in complete astonishment at the sheer amount of people in one place! Then we were called up onto the stage! We were each introduced name and country, and then the most amazing thing happened, they presented each one of us with a massive bouquet of beautiful flowers as a wellcome to the college. It was incredible :) It must be such a big thing for a chinese school to have foreign students, but I have also realised that part of the exchange in china deal is teaching english, but hey they're wellcoming us into their country and we're going to improve incredibly with chinese either way to that's totally fair!

After the assembly we went to our class! Me and Philip, an American who attracts a special amount of attention from the Chinese students with his orange hair are both in the same class which is such a relief! We both sturggled through each lesson with our chinese english dictionaries and wobbly chairs absolutely oblivious as to what is actually going on, until I actually understood something in Chemistry of all subjects! (we had already missed english and maths in the morning so our only chances of knowing what was going on were long gone!)
Our class mates were so excited to have the foreigners in their class! And they were all so friendly! After it was communicated that I play basketball the invitations to play basketball at lunch flooded in, and over here it's the norm to go out to dinner with your friends after school because they have their evening study classes from 7 - 9 so the invitations for dinner also came flooding in and it was such a wellcoming amazing experience!

People over here love the blue eyes too, me and Philip with the blue eyes and orange hair create quite a spectacle when we walk through school! It's really cute! We don't have to walk between classes though, the teachers come to us! It's fantastic, except sitting in the same place from 7.30 - 12 can be a tad tedious, but we can get up and walk around for 10 minutes between classes! The schooling is crazy though! period 1 - 5 from 7.10 - 12 and then lunch for 2 hours (lunch and a nannas nap!) and then from 2 - 5.35 we have periods 6-9 and then me and Philip finish early (finish EARLY!) and can go home! Since I'm way way waaay to petrified to bike home by myself I go to our 2nd parents basically who live about 5 minutes from school and... brace yourselves for this people... They speak absolutely no english and... I TOTALLY HAD A CONVERSATION WITH THEM IN CHINESE WHERE THERE WAS MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING!! It was actually in the top ten achievements on my life! It was incredible!! Ok so I admit they had to talk a little slow, and I had to ask them to repeat what they said a few times, and there was lots of body language involved but the dictionary was not involved and we totally talked about new zealand and my house and food and my parents and their jobs and what I'm doing next year and how cute the grandson is.... It was AWESOME! So pretty muh a breakthrough and a half, making that first day at school even more awesome!

When my host sister came by after her night classes finally finished we went out for shao kao (chinese bbq kebabs) at our 2nd dads request and there we met one of the english teachers tom!
And before we knew it, the Chinese beer was brought out and the gan-beiing began! And we had a full on celebration on our hands! Chinese people love to treat their guests, they are incredibly kind and generous especially our 2nd dad, he is actually one of my favourite people! He says he likes making friends and making people happy and having fun and I was like you have it sorted! So we toasted to being in China, ate kebabs and I managed to translate between the english teacher and our 2nd Dad! Which was anothe accomplishment and a half! Being the translator not the one who needed the translating!!!!!!!!!

After that we rode home and eventually got into bed, and managed about 5 hours sleep before the next 6.20 wake up.... Which was not easy! I promised myself the next night was going to be a lot earlier! But as it came, I was walking into the bathroom to take a shower and the Dad comes homee and I hear a wait! And then all of a sudden we are going out again to meet friend, eat and drink so pretty much the lifestyle over here minus the lack of sleep on weekdays is something I can really get used to! On friday night we slept for about 16 hours :) Completely missed breakfast on Saturday but got up just in time for lunch!

So pretty much life is amazing and incredible and each day brings entirely new things and as much as I miss home and love New Zealand incredible amounts, this experience is amazing and I can't wait to see what the next 4 and a half months have in store!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Everybody loves bikes here! They are everywhere! And my host sister informed me that this is how we get to school. So yesterday, we went off to find e a bike. This meant me travelling to the bike shop across town on the back of her bike! It was SO SO SO much fun and incredibly dangerous! I did not for a minute of that journey feel sure that I wasn't going to fall off or we weren't going to be hit by an oncoming car/bike/whatever! So to say the least I enjoyed every second of it :)

Then, I got my bike! It is so cute, with the basket on the front and the chinese little stickers on it! I wish I cold bring it back home!
The ride back home was incredibly too :) Being witness to two bike - car accidents on my first 2 days in Xindu I was not the most confident about the ride back home, but I totally got on that bike and made it home in one peice! The daily bike to school is going to take some getting used to at first, but fingers crossed god be with me, I will survive! I have learnt one valuable rule of the roads over here, NEVER look back, always forwards, the person behind you is responsible for not hitting you, whoever is infront has right of way pretty much! And stick right, not left! One small vital peice of information there.. Hehe also.... my bike has a belll!! Ah it is too cute!

I'm starting to get used to this Chinese way of living, it's really qutie simple and very honest :)

Till' next time!

Kiwi :)

Wellcome to China - Family + Friends Lunch

Ok, I think I just had the most amazing lunch of my life so far. It wasn't so much the food (although the food was amazing!) but more the people! Everybody here is so so so wellcoming!
And although I can hardly understand anything, I CAN UNDERSTAND SOMETHINGS! It is very very basic but there is a level of understanding going on between me and the locals!

Also.... The most amazing thing of my whole exchange.. When I was being asked about New Zealand and myself and my parents the father proudly said "She is my daughter" It was the most amazing feeling!! All those tiny little feelings of homesickness vanished and I started to feel like part of the family :) In turn I responded "yes, he is my father!" And this received a round of applause from the whole table! And of course we were totally speaking inchinese and yes people could understand me!!

I'm still a little afraid of the food though, I have no idea what so ever as to what I am actually putting in my mouth, and when I can't chew it (some things are really tough!) I just have to swallow.. And I have learnt not to ask what I'm eating because the lat two times I have had the response of "just eat it is delicious but if I tell you, you won't eat because it is sick" and then I found out I ate duck intestines so I'm totally adopting the opinion that ignorance is bliss when it comes to the food over here!

Cheers. The Chinese love to say cheers! To anything, it's great! There was just a whole lot of toasts and a whole lot of skulling (the glasses are tiny so it's really not too muc)!
They asked me if I could drink, and with my policeman father sitting next to me I replied "I am 17", they alughed and said "no no but can you drink this?" and like a true kiwi I said in New Zealand I can drink it, and that was that, after that they pretty mich fed me Chinese beer and a whole new round of toasts began! It was definitely a festive family gathering to say the least!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chinese Life

Ok so there are some totally crazy differences in life over here! For instance this blog is NOT easy to get to, so I might have to change sites, i'l keep you posted

I have eaten soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo many crazy things already! My host sister took me out for a delicious snack of spicy duck throat the other day, and aftedinner last night a friend was kind enough to buy me a Rabbit head...... WHICH I TOTALLY ATE!!!!! It was the most incredibly thing I have ever done. Eating a Rabbits Head. Be proud New Zealand! I had to litterally tear it open, and then you make your way to the brain... Which taste like rotten egg...... But I did it and swallowed and it stayed down, I have no idea how it stayed down, but it did!

Also the whole attitude towards privacy is totally different over here! Like I share not only a room, but a bed with my host sister! It's so incredibly different to new zealand, it's much less individualistic and much more communal. It's so interesting, like in the shower.. we share a towel! which is taking some getting used to... I'm kindof itching for a new towel but it'll probabbly be rude if I ask! I just keep thinking, if they can put up with it so can I! I'm here to live the chinese way and this is it!!!!

The toilet. The toilet is a hole in the floor! It's such a work out squatting all the time! I'm gonna come back with massive leg muscles :) On the train it was pretty scary, with the constant bumping and lurching of the train.. The floor of the toilet was pretty gross!!! Don't think, just do and count to ten and it's over and you can wash your hands and be clean! The importance of hand sanitizer has also become increasing apparent. It is amazing. Never and I mean NEVER leave home without it!

Ok so, the sharing the bed, hole in the floor toilet and I haven't even got on to hand washing my clothes yet! Probably isn't everybodies idea of an exotic holiday! But It is just so so so so amazing! It's incredible this is how they live, every day every week every month and every year. It's so extremely different and it's not going to be easy but I can adapt! I know I can! This is what I'm here for anyway ::) the extreme culture change, as well as learning the language, the ADVENTURE of China has begun :)

The AFS Camp

Over 200 students fromm all over the world, all brought together by a similar interest for extreme adventures and the Chinese language. It was awesome! We were each in rooms of two and my room mate was an Aussie! Being the only ones from our corner of the earth it was soooo nice to have someone who understood my humour and the "sweeet!" and constant "ae's" I seem to put at the end of every sentance! Gotta give it to them Aussies, it is nice to have someone who understands kiwiland when your in a completely new culture! Although I was pleasantly suprised that so many people knew where New Zealand was and what Rugby was! Flight of the Conchoards and Lord of the Rings has really put us on the map! But unfortunately it was so much so that on talent quest and culture sharing night I was litterlly dragged and carried onto the stage by the Aussie and a French Rugby player and forced to do the Haka infront of everyone! by myself. But after that the Aussie sang waltzing matilda all by her lonesome and there was an eye for an eye kindof deal going on. And as embarassing as it wasI did it! And apparently I've left a pretty awesome impression of New Zealand on everyone because so many people keep coming up to me and saying I want to go to new Zealand!! Wahooooo!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hong Kong

Hong Kong. Wow.

The heat was the first thing I noticed when I stepped of the plane, like a slap in the face with a warm flannel.. Quite a change from the freeeeeeeeezing airplane!
So that was that, I had to whip into the bathroom and get my stubbies on. The amount of strange looks I have got, with my million bags, camera, and token stubbies are priceless. I can almost hear them thinking "typical foreigner" but I did see some ausies wearing close to the same kinda thing and we had that knowing wink between us ;)

I made my first purchase in China today! Two bottles of evian water :) I know right, woah big spender.. But none the less it was amazing. And I have the coolest change from my $100RMB note, except the change is in Hong Kong dollars so I better spend it up before the next flight to Beijing!
Would be so keen for a frozen coke right now...

The airport in Wellington was amazing, picking up my bag out of the security check and everything going flying all over the floor and then proceeding to lose my boarding pass.. It was brilliant. Couldn't have done it any other way. Thank you to all the awesome people who came and said farewell :)

Better go, find out where my gate is in this MASSIVE place..
Until next time :)