Friday, June 29, 2012

Beijing 101: Living at the Ru, Shopping at the Wu

I feel like I'm back in China kindergarten.

Three years ago, I started out in China with a month of training in Beijing.  I lived in the Ruyi Hotel, went to sessions, explored Beijing, and hung out with my friends.  I bought many chocolate prince cookies at the Wu Mart across the street.

Fast-forward to today:  I'm living at the Ruyi for a week of training for the summer training program.  I again have a new team to meet, training sessions every day, and the Wu Mart calling my name from across the street.

The difference is, I actually know how to live in China now.  I don't need the constant presence of a team; in fact, I like being in Beijing alone sometimes.  I am no longer a beginning teacher; I am confident in the classroom.  I can speak (some) Chinese.  I can understand (some of) the culture.

So I'm finding it very jarring to have my hand held again, to be expected to be with my team for almost all my meals, to being slowly walked through a lesson in a textbook, and to feel self-conscious about dipping my chopsticks straight into the serving bowl because everyone else is still using serving spoons and passing the plates American-style.

It really does feel like I'm a second-grader visiting kindergarten again.  That sounds cocky but I only mean that my experiences have given me more independence in these surroundings than someone who has just arrived fresh from America, so of course I will respond to the programming, the expectations, and the training in different ways than I did three years ago.

I like my team but I don't know them very well yet and we've just had one day of training, so I'll report more when I have more to say.  In the meantime, here are some photos of my fun day yesterday before all the teams arrived.

My friend Lisa and I went to the Zoo Market and had fun buying cheap China clothes.  Then, on a whim, we went to the Beijing Zoo -- a new experience for both of us!

Beijing Zoo -- surprisingly green and (yesterday) not at all hot

Pandas in their natural habitat

Alison + Panda

The pandas are the main attraction, although there are many many other animals.  You have to buy the more expensive 20RMB zoo entrance ticket to see the pandas.




Lisa had seen one of my earlier posts featuring matching couples' underwear, so she asked me to get her some in Rizhao to use for funny gifts for friends.  Yesterday I passed them on to her, but not before taking some photos to remember them:

The Angry Birds set say "Center of Fury" and "FIGHT!! We are angry!"

I also got a few sets of couples' T-shirts:

We thought the yellow "Love's Story" shirts and the matching Mickey/Minnie underpants might make a nice ensemble.

Finally, let's get back to business.  Here's the only photo I've taken of any STP (summer teaching program) happenings.  It's my team at dinner tonight.  There are 10 teammates and the two ladies in the center right of this photo are my wonderful team leaders.

Team Ningxia

That's it!  This was kind of an odd mish-mash of a post.  Oh well.

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