The Random Writings of Rachel: What Life Looks Like Right Now

What Life Looks Like Right Now

During our 3 weeks of training, we're being housed in a hotel which is in the middle of a very large college campus. I've lived in many different kinds of living situations over the years, but never a hotel. There are some pretty awesome perks to this lifestyle--I mean, the bathroom gets cleaned every day and I never have to wash sheets and towels, which is very, very awesome.


On the other hand, there aren't really many options for washing our clothes here. The hotel offers a pricey laundry service....no one has been able to find a laundromat, even in bus distance...which leaves us using Tide, the bathroom sink, and this handy bar on our balcony to handwash and dry our laundry. We have no iron, and also haven't been able to find a store that sells them yet, which means we hang the laundry as carefully as possible to avoid wrinkles...but mostly we're just wearing wrinkled clothes.

There has also been a thunderstorm every single day since we've been here, so more often these clothes are hanging off of a chair inside our room to dry out.


For homework, I was translating an article about a creature whose scientific name is Velella Vellela and decided that since we don't translate Latin names in English, I shouldn't translate them in Chinese. Then I came across Portuguese man-of-war and decided to skip that one too. But if my Mandarin professor disagrees, I'll learn the term for Portuguese man-of-war and I'm sure I'll find it very practical in any conversation about obscure sea creatures.


Then I come across signs like this and realize that my Chinese probably often sounds like the English on the side--understandable but kinda weird, too. Side note: I have no idea how people live in China for years without learning any Mandarin. So far I have spoken Mandarin every single day--from ordering lunch to understanding how much I need to pay for something, to asking the hotel front desk for toilet paper, to asking hotel staff where in the world our room is, to telling the man making my noodle soup that I don't want fish ball or congealed blood in it, to conversing with very friendly people on the street who want to know what we're doing here in China. I can't always use complete sentences or speak very smoothly but I've always been able to understand the gist of things and communicate and that's very reassuring when you're somewhere new!


Because we're on a huge college campus during their summer break, the vast majority of restaurants within walking distance are closed for the summer due to lack of customers. There is a restaurant in the hotel, but it's expensive (Well, 6 USD per person expensive, but that's outside our budget for everyday eating). So we found a little grocery shop and have been eating instant noodles, crackers, fruit, and oatmeal a lot. Since we're in a hotel, we obviously don't have a kitchen in our room, but we have an electric kettle...and there's a lot you can do with an electric kettle!


This is our favorite lunch restaurant, and our favorite dish that we've tried so far. By comparison to the hotel restaurant, at this place, we can get all of this food, which is enough for two people, for 6 USD, so it's half the price. Angel's sitting in his favorite seat in the place, right in front of the air-con unit.


You may or may not know this...I really, really love bridges. I always have to walk on a little bridge when we find one randomly. We came across this little "fairy bridge" [my name for it] in our wanderings around the campus--as you can see it leads to a few steep stairs that serve as the entrance to an overgrown jungle trail up a little mountain. This is, thus far, my favorite bridge in China. I'm sure I will find more.

P.S. If an ESL learner asked you what a weasel was, how would you describe it? We have no access to either printers or powerpoints so we've been drawing a lot of pictures on the whiteboards in class when it comes to introducing our students to new words.

25 comments:

  1. Lunch at the restaurant looks good--and washing clothes sounds like a challenge!

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  2. Um, you mean to say you DON'T want concealed blood in your soup? What kind of freak are you!
    In other news, I just can't wrap my head around the fact that you speak Chinese. Like, those characters? Insane. Jordan said he can learn a language that used English letters, but if (and this is a direct quote) "the letters start looking like furniture" he's out. :)

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  3. A rodent, like a rat or really big mouse.

    I've had to explain humidity and thunderstorms and salamanders to Alaskan kids. It's hard!

    You guys are so brave. I lived in a hotel with Scott for a month in Missouri (he lived there for 5) when we were first married. It sounds nice at first, but it's really challenging!

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  4. Hopefully you are able to eat more than lots of oatmeal soon...is it really hot in China right now? I would assume yes if Angel is sitting in front of the AC unit at a restaurant...

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  5. All of this is making my wanderlust flare up, big time. ;)

    Do your ESL students know what a ferret is? I would probably describe it like a cross between a cat (a really long, skinny cat) and a ferret. I just Googled a picture and they're actually really cute...haha.

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  6. Oh my goodness. I love it when you just have to live so ridiculously, like the laundry and food situation. Definitely makes for good stories! Looks like fun

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  7. look at all of those pretty symbols! :) i love that bridge!

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  8. I love that picture of you on the bridge! Looking gorgeous!

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  9. I admire both you and Angel so much for being so adventurous...you two do such cool things and this move to China is amazing. Love reading about it!
    Debbie
    www.fashionfairydust.blogspot.com

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  10. When I'm trying to put together sentences in another language, I always end up thinking of the David Sedaris book where he tries to ask a shop owner about what he is pretty sure are cow brains by asking, "Is them the thoughts of cows?" The point is there. but there's always a little something lost in translation!

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  11. ah, the hotel life! we moved out of our this week and now we're living on an air mattress...I miss my maid service and comfy bed so much! our pile of laundry did pile up terribly high though :/ I'm so excited for you two! and verrry impressed with your mandarin!

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  12. It is really commendable that you are able to converse in Mandarin for all the situations you mentioned here. Your Chinese handwriting is lovely btw.

    Jo
    Jo's Jumbled Jardinière

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  13. Your Chinese lettering is beautiful! I could get on board for some packaged noodles...especially if you can find some kimchi around!

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  14. You're doing great, writing Chinese is really difficult! Even speaking it is, but when we got classes through work they told us not to try learning to write it, as speaking was difficult enough!

    Shame you are without some of the basic necessities clothes-wise like a washer and iron, but you have to be enjoying your time in China just the same :)

    Away From The Blue

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  15. Omg, I don't think I would like handwashing my clothes one bit! I def think living in a hotel could have some perks but I wouldn't want to spend so much money on food either! I'm too thrifty!

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  16. Wow! Learning a foriegn language is hard enough but Mandarin?! And writing it also! Amazing. You will be learning as much, if not more, than your students!! As to describing the 'weasel' I think I would say it looks like a rat - only shaped like a tube!
    Thanks for sharing your amazing and daring adventure!

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  17. Are we talking about the animal or when used to describe a dishonest person? :P Wow I didn't know restaurants would close due to lack of business, I know that happens on the beach boardwalks .. eh. Hope you guys are adapting well to your surroundings! Have a great weekend and have fun exploring Rachel! -Iva

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  18. bathroom gets cleaned every day?? i would never move - that sounds awesome. trouble with laundry, however, i definitely understand - we didn't have a machine in italy, and so i did everything by hand and hung it outside to dry. needless to say, things didn't get washed very often. and what would you know - i got stung by a Portuguese man-of-war in hawaii.

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  19. Your new life is definitely more challenging but also exciting. We strive through the difficulties and challenges in life. One thing I enjoy about my new life here in Albania (Europe) is air-drying my clothes. Other than that, things are quite modern here.

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  20. Y'all must have one of the most out-going and happiest outlooks on life. I would have long given up, though whether over the iron or the food, I'm not sure. The $6 meal looks delicious! He's smart to pick that seat.

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  21. Ah, life in a hotel room.... I definitely don't miss that part of being a new expat :) Sounds like you are making the best of it though!

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  22. This lifestyle your currently living is quite interesting! Glad your able to make the best of it!

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  23. That is crazy (In a good way!) It must be a lot of fun and adventerous to take on such a new lifestyle!

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  24. I'm not sure how I'd describe a weasel! That is a tough one, haha! Also, is that your handwriting?! I'm super impressed by your Chinese character writing! Have you been working on it long before arriving in China? If not then you are totally a natural!

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  25. Have you tried looking for a washer in one of the dormitories on the college campus near you? There was one in the dormitory bathrooms on the campus near us.

    Your Chinese handwriting is so pretty!

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