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Monday, June 25, 2012

6-23: The Big Bang Theory

"Hey Austin, let's go to the cafeteria and get some beef noodles."

hahaha I finally saw my buddy Ryan the other day - this is his most famous line. He was in a movie that me and my friends made together, and that line interrupts someone else trying to speak to me in broken English. 

We had a lot of laughs about that, and many other things.

One thing that surprised me was that, out of all the things Chinese college students could attach themselves to from the American media, "The Big Bang Theory" seems to be the most prevalent of them.  Me and my buddies literally talked about the Big Bang Theory on and off for hours, because they love it so much and because I love it so much - it has become an international show, apparently.

"Remember when Amy got that painting for Penny?"

"Remember when Leonard proposed to Penny in bed?"

"[Knock knock knock] Penny. [Knock knock knock] Pennny. [Knock knock knock] Penny."

"Did you see the latest one when Howard was about to go into space?"

"Was that REALLY Stephen Hawking in that episode?"

Hahaha it was really funny, and an unexpected pleasure!

"The Big Bang Theory" aside, we all had a lot of laughs. Me and my buddies went to Lanzhou University of Technology's West Campus to meet up with people, play some pool, get some bubble tea, check out the new 3D movie theater on campus. Yes. 3D movies. On Campus. Dude.


The only downside of the day was the sandstorm and the rain, but hey - it didn't ruin our friendship or anything, it just kind of cramped our style.

It really was a perfect day - one of those where you just spend time with people you love to hang out with, have a few laughs, and just waste the day away. You won't remember the details, but the feelings you all shared will be there, and the ease of conversation and laughter will not soon be forgotten. 

It was a homecoming, of sorts, and I can only hope that the feeling will be present in my upcoming job at Lanzhou Jiaotong University.

I'll talk about that soon, I promise!


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From Huan Xian, Gansu, China

What's up guys?

It's been a while, yeah! Unfortunately, internet access has been a bit troublesome for me, and this is the first time I have actually been able to sit down and write without worrying about a coming appointment...

It's hot in my hotel room in 环县, Huan County, and I'm a bit thirsty from the Oreos I was just eating as I was talking to my mom on Skype. America is worlds away right now. Outside the window are honking taxis, sputtering motorbikes, and the sounds of shopping and bargaining. 

The fan is slowly panning back and forth, but it's not quite enough to get me "comfortable."

I've spent the day with my friend Benjamin Xi, his girlfriend Elena, his brother Peng, and his mom and dad. We had a great breakfast of 包子 (Bao Zi), which are meat/vegetable stuffed steamed buns that are a typical Chinese breakfast, followed in two hours by a great noodle/egg/tomato/bokchoy lunch with steamed bread, and lots of watermelon.

Lots of watermelon.

Watermelon is good here because it provides much-needed water to the body in a dry place like this. It's also tasty, which helps as well.

After that, we went to the market where Ben's mom sells her food - Sha Guo, which is a small, but deep bowl filled with soup, noodles, tons of vegetables, and meat of some kind (chicken in this case, but it varies). She also sells "mouse ear" noodles, which I will just have to put up a picture of, because I can't really explain what they look like. 

Anyway, we had a great dinner of Sha Guo and Northwestern-barbecue. Awesome! Seriously, this is great food...if Northwestern Chinese food made its way into America, people would quit going to those crappy Cantonese-dish filled buffets. The Northwest is the best!

In a couple of days, we're gonna go to Ben's village - where he is originally from. I will stay with him and his family in their cave homes, devoid of showers and an abundance of water. Life is hard in that part of the country, and I hope I can show you guys why I feel such a strong attachment to these somewhat, but in this case, definitely, far-flung places.

I'll be typing up another blog post right after this one --- read if you like! 

See you next time!


Feel free to comment or to subscribe to my blog - it's totally free and no sign-up and I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Oh....You're THAT Austin!"

So, a couple of days ago, me, Robert, Janson, and other friends ran into another American, his wife, and his very young daughter near the front of L.U.T. (Lanzhou University of Technology, my old school) - what are the odds, right? Me, Robert, and three other Americans just running into each other! Weird......
Anyway, we introduced ourselves, and were talking about the school. I said something like, "Yeah, last year when I was studying here.......(I forget)."
He looked at me, tilted his head, and said, "Wait, you said your name was Austin, right?"
"Oh, you're THAT Austin! People around here are always asking me if I know you and how you're doing, but I had no idea who you were till now."
"..........really? Wow, I wonder what these crazy Chinese people have been saying about me hahaha."
"It's all good stuff, don't worry."
It was really flattering to hear that people were still talking about me and remembered me, but I also kind of had that feeling like, "Yeah, they'd BETTER remember me - I had so many friends!!"
I don't know, it was just a funny and nice moment.
It's been great meeting all my old friends and going to all the old places. I've been seeing a lot of foreigners around here - it's crazy!! L.U.T. and Lanzhou seem to have acquired a lot more diversity!
I've been having a great time, but I've been exhausted most of the time, honestly. Walking all around everywhere, the sun rising at about 5am, and healthy food has all been the perfect storm of being tired hahaha.
I got used to it eventually last year, but I haven't quite gotten there yet haha.
Well, anyway, that's about all I can think of at the moment...I guess I'll see you guys later! I won't be able to put up photos or videos until I get back in July, sorry about that :(

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Back in Lanzhou!

Hey everyone!
I'm coming to you from the Lanzhou University of Technology Netbar! It's been a great day and a half here so far - too bad I can't get any pictures on this public computer :(
Evyerthing is going really well - me and Robert are both over our jetlag, and we're just chillin'!
This morning we went all around the area of campus and our hotel. We stayed at a hotel in Xi Guan (She Gwan) and we walked all around downtown Lanzhou and saw the shops, ate some 包子,and had a really great time walking around our little part of the city.
It's really great being back here - I got a text when we were coming into Lanzhou saying that there were 7 people waiting for me and Robert at the airport shuttle bus stop!! Benjamin Xi, Christina Yao, Ethan, Boss, and more of my old was a truly happy moment to get that first glimpse of them from the bus window.
It's also a little weird being back as a tourist, so to speak. Yeah, I'll be teaching in the fall, but right now, I don't have any plans, and I'm just hanging out. I don't have to go to class, I don't have to shop, I don't really have to do anything. That's weird, and it puts up a weird wall between you being there and you being there.
This isn't to say this isn't great! I LOVE being back! I really do! It's been a lot of fun to speak Chinese and eat all this great food and be able to see my amazing friends again. Some of them will be leaving Lanzhou soon, and it will be sad to see them go. I'll see some of them again, but some, I won't. But we can't know that right now.
Life goes on in Lanzhou - there are a few new shops and vendors here and there, but it seems very much the same, which is just fine with me. There are more foreigners at the university now, I think around 30 this semester, and next semester, it will be over 50! Wow, they are really getting into it!
I have to go buy a phone, meet some people, and some other general Lanzhou things........(code for "I don't know"), but until next time, much love!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Back to China!

Hey, everyone!

I'm going back to China on June 13th! 4 days from tomorrow! It's crazy how fast time passes, isn't it? I can't really believe I'm going back.....will it be like going home, or will it be a strange experience that I won't really enjoy as much as I hope? I'm hoping it will be the former. I've actually been worrying about it more than I should lately.......

 I'm heading out for Lanzhou with my buddy and old roommate Robert, and we're gonna be hanging out at all my old haunts and with all our old friends! He visited Lanzhou briefly for a week or so a couple of years ago, and he'll have a great time meeting a lot of people. Lanzhou is great to foreigners.  It'll be a great time - a really great time.

Besides hanging out with my buddy Robert, I will be going to Lanzhou Jiaotong University to meet with the International Office director, see the campus, and meet some of the students, who know some of my old friends. It'll be a great time.

The agenda will be super crowded. I'll be in Lanzhou for about 8 days, after which I will travel to my buddy Benjamin's hometown, and then to his original home, a really small and remote village in Gansu. His family is commemorating the anniversary of his grandfather's death, and I will be there to witness it. It will be a really unique experience, not only because of that, but because I will be spending a week-ish in a cave. I'll be staying in a cave home, which will be a new and eye-opening experience.

After a week-ish of that, I'll be headed back to Lanzhou for the rest of the time. There's so many people to see and hang out with! I can't wait!

I'll put up lots of photos after I get back!


I'm not gonna lie, though - I am really really nervous about starting this new job in Lanzhou. It's a big deal. I know that I can get along with Lanzhou's students, but that was when I was a student. I'll be a teacher now, and that creates a certain line and puts me in a position where I will never quite be "friends" with my students. It just won't quite work. Luckily, I have some friends from my L.U.T. days that I can truly be friends with. That will be a good thing.

I'm really nervous about the whole idea of teaching English - I never really considered teaching English until earlier this year. when I started my TESOL Course. There's so many different things you have to consider when teaching a foreign language.......How do you explain grammar and vocab to a low-level student without just translating everything you say? How do you keep students motivated and interested? How do you give individual attention and be a mentor/role model to classes of 50+ students? How do you be a friendly teacher without letting students walk all over you?

The list goes on.......

The good thing about China is that people really and truly respect teachers, which makes discipline pretty much a non-issue. However, the other questions, however stupid they might seem, remain in one degree or another.

If I can, I will post some stuff up while I am in China, but there are no guarantees.

Much love!

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