A Travellerspoint blog

Internationally, I am me.

65 °F

It's so weird. This is so much like "real life" in the States yet it's so different. My host mom wanted me to have friends over for dinner, so I invite my classmates over and 8 of us went out with my fam. My mom is so hospitable! I love how I have the "hang out house" here just like in the States. It also does not hurt that my family is rich. Everyone was shocked at how nice and big my house is compared to that of their host families. I'm tired and have a lot of emails, so this is all for today.

Posted by saralovett 10:13 Comments (3)

This is not Shanghai.

Hey, I have a million things to say and zero energy with which to say them. Honestly, I can't form coherent sentences. It's been a long day. I took a 5 hour long nap yesterday, and I didn't go to sleep until midnight. I woke up at 4:40. I went running at 5. My host dad was sure that I would get lost. Shockingly, I did not! There is a park near my house, and I went for a short 3.5 mile run there. School started at 8 and did not get out until 3:40. We are not allowed to speak English for most of the day, but we cheated a little bit. We had Chinese class and started with basics that most of us already knew. We learned how to play ping pong in gym class. I was terrible. The fact that I was wearing a dress and heels did not help at all. After class, I went exploring with 7 of my classmates from 4-6. We were on a mission to find cheap DVDs. We found them, but it was quite the journey. In Shanghai, many signs are written in both English and Mandarin, but here everything is only Mandarin. When we finally found the DVDs (a 30+ minute walk away...in heels...), we really had to search for movies that were in English. The kids who had not traveled were very nervous wandering around a foreign city. They felt that it was unsafe. The four of us who have traveled abroad a lot (3 of us had been to China before) tried to reassure them, but it was frustrating because neither faction really listened to the other. I think it will just take time for them to acclimate to life abroad. Three of us took a taxi back to school because it was raining. My sister and I were picked up by our driver. Now I'm at home and contemplating sleep...knowing me, it won't happen for a while. I'm more likely to watch the episodes of Lost that I just picked up....
More later. Sorry it was brief!

Posted by saralovett 14:20 Comments (4)

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

semi-overcast

It's been a LONG couple of days. I'm not sure that this will be as long of an update as it should be because it's past eleven, and I have school tomorrow. I had a long overnight train ride from Beijing to Harbin. It was so much better than I expected. We had beds, and they weren't too uncomfortable. There was a regular toilet too, so that was QUITE thrilling :D! The train ride was about 11 hours. I got to know some of the other Harbiners a little better, which was nice. We all went to sleep around eleven, but I couldn't sleep and stayed up another hour at least before I fell asleep. I woke up a lot during the night. Finally, when everyone was awake, our Chinese teachers, tiwho accompanied us on the train, gave us various bread products and milk from a plastic bag (seriously--I'll post pictures later) for breakfast. It was not filling at all. I didn't feel hungry, but I realized I was hungry later...much later...I felt like I was going to pass out just before I ate lunch. Anyways, I met my family at the train station. My host mom and dad were there. They are so sweet! My host dad and his driver helped me with my luggage, and my host mom held my hand on the way out of the station. That's completely normal in China, but it still made me feel a little like I was five years old. My host sister was still at school, and my parents don't speak English, so communciation was difficult. I had one memorable conversation with my host mom (besides the one where she said that she and I are both fat...you should see her....she is thin!) anyways--memorable conversation in Chinese: she looks at my arms and says (because Chinese people, especially women have no arm hair. completely smooth arms) "you have fur. I don't have fur." I said "I think all Americans have fur." Of course, this doesn't account for Asian-Americans, but I didn't want to get into that. She then asked if I shave my legs or if I don't have "fur." I said I shave. She doesn't, but she doesn't have any leg hair. I met my host sister later. Her name is Yitong. She is my age, and she is very bright. Her English is great, and she helped me with many Chinese words. I have 3 notebook pages filled with new words. I met her cousin at dinner, and the three of us talked about Lady Gaga in Chinese. We concluded that she is very pretty but a little crazy. At home, I showed Yitong the Lady Gaga songs on my iPod. This isn't as long as it should be, but I'm getting up early to run tomorrow. More later!

Posted by saralovett 16:17 Archived in China Tagged transportation Comments (24)

Beiijing

94 °F

Hello friends,
I am in Beijing! This is not my final destination, but at least I'm getting there. Orientation in New York was really fun. I got the chance to meet many kids on the program traveling to Anshan, Beijing, Changzhou, and Harbin this summer. There are 49 of us total. 10 of us are going to Harbin--9 girls, and 1 guy. I'll miss hanging out with lots of guy friends! The two people I hung out with most at orientation, Joseph and Paul (my "long lost twin brother"), are both going to Changzhou. There are some cool people in my city too though. The flight over was probably the best flight I have ever had. The seats were awesome. Paul, Jordan (the guy going to Harbin), and I had seats in the first row of the second section of economy class seats, so we had lots of leg room because there weren't seats in front of us. Also, we had a crazy selection of movies--I think it was something like 160. I have never had so many movies to choose from on a plane ride before! I watched Slumdog Millionaire and the Sixth Sense with Paul and I watched Shawshank Redemption with Jordan. Slumdog was great even though I was falling asleep through it; I had already seen Sixth Sesne, Shawshank was awesome. Some of my flight was spent standing up at the back of the plane (where there are free beverages and pretzels...little known fact) talking to other kids on the trip. We were easy to spot because we were all wearing vastly oversized neon yellow t-shirts. So attractive. The plane food was not bad. I tried some interesting new vegetarian foods, but I don't actually know what some of them were. I missed out on Hagen Daaz ice cream though!! The vegetarian and vegan meals are the same, so I didn't get ice cream. Paul shared though, so it was okay :D. After the flight was over, we waited in the longest customs line I have ever seen. When we finally got through, we got on a bus and drove only about 10 minutes to the hotel. It's definitely not in an area that shows "real Beijing" because it's on the outskirts, so I hope, for the case of people who haven't been here before, we will see some of the heart of Bejing this afternoon. The hotel is alright. It's probably not a place I'd stay with my parents, but it's definitely better than some other places we could have stayed in Bejijng. The beds are extremely firm (of course) but not as terrible as expected. The chaperone, Kathleen, is my roommate, and she (having never been to China before) was shocked at the firmness. The bathroom is a little quirky. The shower is in the middle of the side of one wall, and the shower floor is level with the floor in the rest of the bathroom. To take a shower, I had to close the curtain across half of the bathroom, but I was still on the same side as half of the bathroom including the toilet, which was strange to me. No squatty potty though, so I'm grateful for that. Once we got into the hotel last night, we had dinner and orientation. We were all way to tired to do any kind of orientation, and luckily none of the information was new, so it was okay that we were only semi-conscious. I finally got to go to sleep at 8PM (8AM New York time!!!), and I woke up an hour ago at 6AM. After breakfast this morning (by the way, all of the hotel food is Chinese, and we only have chopsticks to eat with. Luckily I'm better than I remembered at using chopsticks), we have more orientation, and then we are heading to the Great Wall. The Wall is about 90 minutes away. This will be my third time seeing the Wall! I'm excited to be with lots of kids who have not seen it (Although some have). Finally, at 19:00 (7PM), all of the kids going to Anshan, Harbin, or Changzhou are heading to a train station (we could fly, but this is cheaper, and we're not paying) to head to our host cities. It will be a sad time because some of the people I'm closest to on the trip are going to other cities. The train is an overnight train, and it is not supposed to be very comfortable, so it will be an adventure. I will be happy if I get one of the sleeper cars with a bed in it. Otherwise, it's all-nighter time for the Harbiners. I get to meet my host family soon!!! My mom's friend, Ying, who is Chinese (and American) and lives in Shanghai called them the other day to get some information. The dad is a military man but is pretty laid back because when I called, he didn't even know where his daughter was. Her name is Yitong, and she is seventeen years old like me. My host mom, who works in tourism, along with my host dad, does not speak English. Yitong speaks some. I am glad because I will learn more Chinese if the host family does not speak much English. Well, I should be going so I can go get ready for another long day. My host home has internet, so I should be posting soon.

Posted by saralovett 23:11 Archived in China Tagged air_travel Comments (6)

A home and a family

Yesterday, I found out I will be in Harbin (har-bean), China. This city is in the Northeastern corner of China, so it is very close to Russia. As a result, much of the architecture in the city is Russian-influenced. This city is also relatively "small" (only 5 million--yes, this is practically suburban for China. Shanghai has upwards of 17 million!), so it will not be terribly polluted. I will be taking a 13 hour train from Beijing to Harbin, and that will be an experience in itself. My host family lives in Nangang district, and their family name is Liu. I believe it is prounounced "leo." I have a host sister, but I don't know how old she is. Her name is Yitong. I will be with my host family from July 4th-August 14th. My schedule so far is as follows:

June 30th-July 2nd: Orientation in NY
July 3-July 4th: Orientation in Beijing
July 4th-August 14th: With host family in Harbin
August 14th-August 15th: Staying overnight in NY with some other kids who can't get a domestic flight back on the same day
August 15th: Back home

Posted by saralovett 20:30 Archived in China Tagged preparation Comments (4)

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