Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Exams.... kaishi!

It's exam time and this is why I've been seriously slacking at blogging.  I have two weeks of final exams because I split my classes into two.  It's just easier that way!  Imagine listening to 24+ partner dialogues in 1.5 hours... it's just too rushed.  Each week I have about 10-12 groups of two or three students presenting their dialogues to me. 

Each dialogue needs to be seven lines long, no notes, no book.  They have about 20 minutes to prepare after I give them the topics.  I've been really happy with my results and I think they are proud of themselves too.  They definitely couldn't do something like this when we started! 

Here are some of the topics they had to choose from:
  • Help a Westerner order Chinese food at a Chinese restaurant
  • Discuss the differences between Chinese and Western food with a friend who just got back from America
  • Order at a coffee house, but the order comes out incorrectly
  • Order at a bar, receive very bad service
  • Help a foreigner take a taxi to a tourist location in a city
  • You are taking a taxi somewhere and they go the wrong way
  • Your friend loses his/her wallet in a mall after buying some new clothes
Grading my nearly 500 students is taking a tremendous amount of time.  Each class takes about one hour to grade.  Then add the time that I have to take to readjust the scores and enter them into a computer.  I easily have a total of twelve hours of exam grading to be done.  I'm half done with grading my classes, but still have a long way to go once I start to adjust the grades based on participation and classwork.

In true American fashion, I camp out at Starbucks to get my work done with a large mug of coffee (Americano, please).  It's been a busy one and this past weekend my good friend Max and his friends from college were also in Qingdao. 

In other news, I'm in complete denial that I am leaving next week. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

World Cup

It's actually kind of interesting being in another country for the World Cup, especially since America is well known for its apathy regarding "the Beautiful Game."  People in China are very mixed about it and I do find a significant number of people that are genuinely interested in watching it and will stay up all night watching their favorite teams.

Qingdao also has more Europeans than it does Americans, so all the bars are constantly playing the matches.  The timing ends up being at 10PM, 12AM, and 2AM so it really works out for the bars here.  I've actually ended up watching a lot of games by simply being out during the weekend.

This is the theme song that you may (or may not) have heard, but I hear it all the time: on the radio, on the bus, on the TV, etc.  It's pretty catchy so listen away!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fake weekend

Why am I working on Saturday and Sunday?  Because next Wednesday is the Dragon Boat Festival, a national holiday for which all businesses are closed.

Since this year the holiday falls on a Wednesday, most businesses have decided to close Monday and Tuesday, instead shifting these workdays to the weekend before.  This has resulted in a massive 7-day workweek for us, followed by three days off, a two-day workweek, and another regular weekend.

I'm just annoyed by it and would really appreciate a bit of a break from teaching.  I even have to work on Monday because the classes I teach on Saturdays at Joe's have been rescheduled.  Essentially I have gone from Friday, to Monday and Tuesday, then to Saturday.  Then I guess Saturday again?

Dragon Boat Festival Traditions

As the name indicates, there are boats that look like dragons that are raced on bodies of water.  I have no idea if this is actually happening in Qingdao, but I do know that my friend Max is going to be racing a boat with his office in Shanghai.
Chinese people also eat 粽子 (zong2 zi) basically boiled rice with fillings wrapped in a bamboo leaf.  It smells really good and there are many flavors of zongzi available, including peanut and red bean.  
They are also made into pyramid shapes and wrapped with string or a rubber band.  These little guys are being sold on pretty much every block and shopping establishment this week.  They have a very strong and delicious aroma, so it's kind of nice to be smelling them instead of sewage, body odor, or sausages.

This is the reason why I am working on a weekend and am unable to go see the England v. US match tonight... don't even get me started about how irritated I am about this whole thing.  This is my fake weekend and I will continue to complain about it until I have my massive break that will be next week.

It's exam season, kiddos.  Just when you thought I was getting soft on you, I'm going to pull the sudden death final exam.  Only the strong will survive!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

GLP's tour of campus

I've been a little obsessive about this dog in the recent months and play with her almost every day. 
I fear she has somewhat imprinted on me because whenever I pass her home she runs towards me and won't let me move too far without playing with her.  She does this by jumping all over my feet, rendering me unable to walk too far without tripping on her or, worse, stepping on her. 
No food there, little fox!  
The other day I wanted to take pictures of campus in the sprummer and the little dog hopped around with me the entire way, so this is more of her tour of campus than mine. 
This is one right past the classroom buildings and where the students' dorms start.  There is another larger block of dorms on the East side of campus, but I live in the very farthest building to the West of campus. 
You can clearly see her gimp leg in this photo and she kind of hops around on the functioning three.  This is the entrance to Building B, where most of my classes are taught.  The groundskeeper man who is in charge of giving me the computer keys for each classroom actually laughs at me on Tuesdays because I end up visiting him three times in one day.  I don't mind though, because it is the closest academic building to my dorms!
This is one of the main roads on campus and the one I shuffle down to leave and go to my bus stop. 
This is a random statue on campus.  I have no idea what relevance dolphins have to hotel management, Qingdao, or my students.  Maybe it is a happy reminder about the abundant population and successful reproduction program of the Chinese river dolphin!
After hopping around campus, little fox was tired so she decided to take a rest under the shade of a tree.  Behind her, you can see the library and the pedestrian walkway that runs through campus.  There is nothing like seeing thousands of students during passing period walking along this pathway.  It's even more incredible when it's raining and they all have pastel colored umbrellas (they seem to only make umbrellas in pastels here).  This is also right across the main gate to campus so I left and took the bus into downtown Qingdao. 
It takes me about an hour by bus to get into downtown Qingdao, about 20km away.  I take two buses: one into LiCun, and one from there downtown.  The first one is a kind of crappier looking bus with no A/C, lots of dust, an engine in the front that the driver has to poke with a stick sometimes, and some seats with no actual seats.  I ride this for about 20 minutes and then switch over to a much nicer bus to take into town, but one that still does not have A/C. 

I wish I could take pictures of all the things I see on my bus ride into town.  I see shacks, factories, construction sites, piles of rubble (where the local government has demolished the shacks and wants to build high-rises), high rises under construction, empty high-rises, and lots of day laborers with hand-painted signs advertising what kind of work they can do.  Unfortunately I cannot and these things will just have to be in my mind on my journey back to America. 

On a slightly less sentimental note, I seem to have caught some sort of infection and my lymph nodes/ glands are all swollen as of yesterday.  This has been a great health week over here because on Monday I am pretty sure that I ate a giant clump of MSG at lunch.  I felt dizzy, tingly, and light-headed and spent a lot of my day totally out of my mind.  It might have been a sort of migraine as a result of my MSG overdose.  So thanks, China.  Let the China-rage begin!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Qingdao Sprummer

 Even though its early June, I still feel like it's Spring because of the mid-70's weather during the day, light breeze, and blooming flowers.  Qingdao really is a beautiful city and here are some photos of what I've been up to the past few weeks:

My parents, Mark and Shauna came to visit me in Qingdao!  Here is a photo of my parents sitting on my couch amidst all my teaching junk.  
It was a great weekend and there will be more pictures of their visit to follow, once everyone gets back to the US of A.  Mark and Shauna are still in Hong Kong or Macau and my parents are on the plane back to Amurrrrica as I am typing this post. 

I barbequed outside with some other teachers at a restaurant near the beach.  Yes, it was outdoors and under a tent that was actually made of PVC and metal pipes with plastic tarp strung up to make walls and a roof. 
We roasted all sorts of meat, seafood, vegetables, and bread on the wire pit and the Korean-style pan.  It was a great Friday night and a very Qingdao experience.  Plus, we had beer in a plastic bag.
So that is my spring-summer-sprummery life as of late.  Basically trying to spend as much time as possible outside and enjoying the seaside resort town lifestyle.  One month left until I leave this beautiful city.  Sigh.

Monday, June 7, 2010

"I like soft music"

I have previously posted about my students' lack of taste in good music and their affinity for boy bands, love ballads, and Michael Jackson.  The Chinese also love Elton John and various slow piano music like this one called "Kiss the Rain."

I hear it on the streets, in stores, in class... basically anywhere that music can be played.  I'm pretty sick of this song by now and have had just about enough of it. 


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The little things

After a week of solidly crappy weather, today was really a beautiful day.  Qingdao had clear blue skies, a light breeze and a temperature in the mid-70s.  I even got to enjoy an Americano at Starbucks downtown... outside!

This is the reason I've wanted to be in Qingdao all along and it's really too bad that the weather is only this perfect during my last few weeks here.  I guess it's for the best though because I will have a beautiful memory of a fine city instead of the frigid temperatures that some *cough Jenna cough* left in January. 

I'm pretty over teaching right now.  I'm sick of the lesson planning, the reviewing, the grading, and the constant stream of work.  I just wish I could go home and not have to think about work constantly, but this is all part of the job.  I understand that any line of work comes home with you, but with teaching there is always more lesson planning and more grading to be done at home.  To all the teachers out there -- you are so amazingly hard working and dedicated.  Seriously.  Hats off to you.

I'm going to miss Shandong food.  I just wish I could really learn how to cook the foods I eat here but know it won't taste the same because I lack:

- a large vat of MSG
- peanut oil
- a well seasoned wok
- a huge flame to put aforementioned wok on
- crazy/ yelling/ joyous restaurant owner
- dirt-under-the-nails chefs

My stream of sentimental end-of-semester blog posts have started.  Andd.... 开始!