So life in China is quickly falling into a routine, but it has continued to be fun and exciting with each day I have had. School has been great, although the days have been long since we are trying to make everything we can for the students. Most days I arrive at 8 and Larissa and I leave the school between 6-7 once we have finished up for the day, but the work is fun and I'm glad to have someone with me! I want to post pictures of our classroom, though I keep forgetting my camera to load them onto my computer. Pictures coming soon I promise! The kids have settled into school and the "honeymood period" is over, so there have been some crazy days! They keep me laughing though, and remind me why I love this age group so much. I sometimes wish I could view the world like a 5-year-old, it's pretty great hearing their stories and ideas, they are incredible kids!
Last weekend, Melissa (my roommate), and I spent the weekend with our friend Larissa, who is also at 3e with us. We hit the markets around Beijing, and we hit them hard! At first, even just talking to the sellers was intimidating, but by the end of the weekend it was a bit of a rush to talk someone down to a bargain price! At one point, though, things got a little bit crazy when I didn't want to buy a winter coat that I had been looking at. The women went all the way from 600+ RMB down to 200 but I was walking away and she actually grabbed my purse and tried to pull me back. I hate when it gets like that, and I kept walking. She actually shouted after me that I was a "crazy lady" and the whole thing was kind of nuts. Makes for a good story though. We also managed to find our way around the subway system and made it out to the Pearl Market which is by the Temple of Heaven on the other side of the city. I had a great time, and I want to go back soon so we can see some more sights.
I want to get some sightseeing in while I can, because the more I see the more I feel that I understand the city. I really do feel like I'm becoming a "local" at times though. Grocery shopping the other day with Melissa was our first experience completely on our own in the store with no one to translate the things we were buying .. and we even have begun to recognize a few local brands and items that we really like! It's fun and crazy and exciting here, I sometimes still can't believe it. It's been really nice though to find some people that I really get along with, live close to (or with.. haha Melissa is great), and work with too! It has made my transition to Beijing much easier.
This weekend was a busy but fun time! On Saturday, we went to see the Olympic National Park which is only a short trip on the subway. I watched the 2008 Olympics every day so it was pretty amazing to be standing in the arena and walking around to see the different structures. They have turned the Water Cube (where the pool events were held) into a giant water park, which I have heard is pretty amazing. We're going to go back sometime soon and spend a day there which should be fun! On Sunday we visited the Beijing Zoo. I love animals so it was fun to see the different things, but I was a little disappointed at how dirty some of the animal spaces were. It was sad to see the trash and things that people had thrown in, so it was a bit depressing. I have heard good things about the Beijing Aquarium, so I'm hoping to get to see that sometime soon. Exploring the city has been so fun, and I am really becoming a tiny expert on the subway system. I even have a subway card now that I just reload with RMB when it runs low, so I really am a "Beijinger" now!
Although I am loving Beijing, I have started to look into flights back to the States for Christmas and that has made me really excited! I still get the occasional pang of homesickness and coming home for a few weeks sounds like just what I will need around December. There are lots of people I would love to see and talk to, and of course share all of my other stories and pictures! Keep looking on facebook and here for updates and albums! And again .. sending my love to you all from Beijing!