Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Christmas Eve in HONG KONG!!!

Hong Kong was my very last stop before I started my winter break. It was a super short visit, only two nights, but it was still memorable. My mom met up with me in Hong Kong so we could spend winter break together! I spent that night wrapping presents, working on the Pac Rim video (I’m on the media group and am in charge of documenting our time aboard), and waiting for her to arrive. At around midnight there was a knock on my door… it was my MOM! It turns out her only checked bag had been lost aka all the Christmas presents and all her clothes were missing and that very next night was the Christmas eve party! We were more than upset, we were devastated. We kept going down to the reception desk of the hotel to call the airport and inquire about her bag- every time we called we just got a busy signal- it was infuriating. We finally sent them a fax with URGENT stamped all over it. We received a call from the baggage claim in less than 15 minutes- who knew faxing actually worked?! We were promised that that bag would arrive the next day, so all we could do was wait. The next day we decided to take our minds off the missing bag by exploring Hong Kong. We began by finding coffee (at McDonalds, don’t judge us), viewing a giant Christmas tree and wondering around the busy streets. After that we went on a ferry boat ride around the different islands of Hong Kong. It was fun and relaxing and just what we needed after the missing bag debacle.

Mama Bear and I

We arrived back at the hotel fully anticipating that my mom’s bag would be there just waiting for us- IT WAS NOT!!! This meant that we had to pull together an outfit for her for the Christmas eve party using only my clothes. Lucky for her I have impeccable taste and have clothes that everyone looks good in. She wore an eloquent tan pants and black shirt combo set off with a splash of color by a purple, green, and blue scarf - she looked fierce. The party had an open bar till 8pm, Christmas songs, and a visit by a Chinese Santa clause- we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  It was really nice getting to introduce my mom to all my new pac rim friends and spending time together. Along with that, it was indeed a Christmas miracle because very early on Christmas morning we received a call telling us they had received my mom's bag and that they were bringing it up! Hooray, and just in time before we left for our flight to Bangkok! That’s right Christmas in Bangkok! You’ll hear more about that soon!

Darling Kariann and I

Double fisting it!

And now here's a link to the video the media crew created to give you a taste of my first semester abroad!  Just click,  Pac Rim Video

xoxo Audrey

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fuzhou, China

After my many adventures in Vietnam I headed to Fuzhou, China. While there I studied and lived at Hwa Nan’s women’s college. We stayed there for a month and really got to experience Chinese dorm life. Us foreign students were in a separate dorm than the Chinese students but we had the same layout except we only had four girls per dorm room instead of 8 girls!!!!!! I was able to visit a Chinese dorm room and it’s like sardines in there, I don’t know how the women stand it. Our academic focus was on Chinese philosophy so we read the Dao De Jing , The Art of War, the Analects of Confucius, and other old Chinese dudes (joking). For our time in China I got to room with the lovely ladies- Veronica, Monica, and Kristi.
Hwa Nan Campus

The college is about 20-30mins outside of the city of Fuzhou so I didn’t go into town too frequently but I did go to old student street, 7 lanes and 3 allys, the Confucian  temple, and of course the mall! Besides that we had a few weekend field trips where we visited Wuyi Mountain and the city of Xiamen. While on these excursions we hiked mountains, floated town rivers in bamboo rafts and I learned to like eggplant! What was really great about our time in China was that we were paired with a Chinese student who was your buddy. I got Joanna and we became besties! She has the same birthday as my mom so we really complemented each other. She understood my sense of humor perfectly, which is amazing! Her English was great and I just had the best time with her. She took me on adventures around town and always was a superstar at ordering me vegetarian food
Joanna and I at dinner

Joanna and I sharing mittens :

Confucian  temple


One of the coolest things we did together was set off Chinese wish lanterns. One time while we were out together we saw a couple setting them off. I thought it was so cool so I told Joanna how it would be awesome if we could do that together. Next time I saw her she had ten lanterns! I got together some peeps from my program and we met up with Joanna and her friends. We then proceeded to head over to the boys college! Did I mention that Hwa Nan is an all women’s college- this was the first time I saw boys my age in days, I was excited! So there was a whole gang of us out on the track field. We each got a lantern and took turns writing our wishes and releasing them to the sky. Joanna wrote on her lantern ‘Audrey and Joanna 4-ever.’ I released a lantern for compassion. I cannot explain just how cool it was, it was probably one of the most magical things I gone. Also this was the night I met Oh Brother… tee hee but more on that later :)

Making a Wish

Releasing it to the world!

Another extremely epic event we had while in China was thanksgiving or what I like to call a day of 21 pies. Since it’s an American tradition us pac-rimmers decided to cook up an epic thanksgiving feast for our hosts at Hwa Nan. We were going to have to feed all the pac-rimmers, all our Chinese buddies, and the entire faculty at the college, that’s over 80 guests!!!! I was on the pie crew and we made over 21 pies!!! Most of which were pumpkin pie- which is my favorite! Some ladies stayed up to 5am to finish cooking the pies. We decorated, cooked, and were on the local news! It turned out really well and I got to eat mashed potatoes with cranberry sauce! 

Now I bet you’re wondering who Oh Brother is….. well he’s my new Chinese Boyfriend. Ha ha, I’m joking, he’s not really my boyfriend but we did walk with linked arms which is a pretty big deal in China. The dating scene in China is totally different than in the US, everything seems to revolve around group dates (which reminds me of the time back when I had a Mormon boyfriend lol!) and very low amounts of public displays of affection. My buddies Monica, Kari, and I got to go on a real Chinese group date. It was a lot of fun and the boys even paid! We ended the night by sneaking into the boys dorm room and having a jam session on a hand-make ukulele and guitar! We generated quite the crowd of Chinese boys :) 

For my research project that I’m forced to do while on this trip I decided to study divination and fortune telling. I’ve now decided to narrow my focus to Vedic astrology but while in China I was able to do Chinese fortune sticks! I went to a temple, I offered incenses, I prayed, introduced myself to the Goddess, and asked my question. After this, I shuffled a jar of sticks three times and picked one stick. Each stick has a number that corresponds to a text that gives insight to your future. I drew stick number 26. I had our tour guide translate for me and give me my fortune! It was a really cool experience and I’m curious to see if it comes true! I'll keep you updated, it said things will become more clear in the spring- and that's right around the corner!!!!

I enjoyed my time at Hwa Nan so much that I have applied to work as an English teacher there next year! I'll find out by the end of this month if I get the position. Well, that was China- I'll leave you with a photo of my cutest new little friend! Her family owned the noodle food booth in the Cafeteria- Kari and I became very good friends with the family :)

xoxo, Audrey