Thursday, August 2, 2012

书法 - Calligraphy

On Wednesday I attended a short calligraphy lesson. 书法 (calligraphy) is written using an ink writing brush and either bottled ink or ink that comes from an ink stick being rubbed with water on an ink stone, onto a long and thin sheet of rice paper. There are many different styles of calligraphy that can be traced through China's long history, and calligraphy in general is considered an art form.
Attempts at writing my name
A few Chinese characters. Usually when
writing calligraphy, the traditional Chinese
characters are used, even though simplified
characters are taught in school.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Fun fact of the day

Fun fact of the day: There are no verb conjugations in Chinese (for example, I am, you are, he is, etc.). Because Chinese is a character based language, the same verb is used without modification for a certain tense, regardless of what the noun or pronoun forming the subject is.
我是- I am
你是- you are
他是- he is
我们是- we are

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Adventures in Shanghai!

东方明珠塔- Pearl Tower, a TV tower
and one of the tallest buildings in 
Shanghai, viewed from across
黄浦江- Huangpu River

Historic building in 豫园-Yu Yuan Garden
Rawrr! A mighty lion!
Lotus flower blooming in
桂林公园- Guilin Park.

The subway and public bus systems are really great for allowing people to get to literally all of Shanghai on just a couple of kuai (1 RMB). 

Also, is anyone looking forward to the Olympics? I know I am; this will be my first time watching it in Chinese!

Lastly, my new favorite food addiction, just a couple of minutes from campus:
猪肉馍-Pork bun sandwich, 6 kuai. 

Shawarma, Chinese style. The cumin
seasoning is a delicious and zesty addition

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fun fact of the day

Fun fact of the day: When shopping at supermarkets you are charged for asking for plastic bags to put groceries in. It's a measure taken to encourage shoppers to bring their own reuseable bags and it's a good step taken towards better environmental conservation.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bring it on

Before these past few days I never thought I'd have a Japanese roommate.
Before today I had never talked to a German, an Indonesian, a French student, Japanese students, and French Asians in the same day.
Before today I hadn't thought I'd be okay with attempting a book where I only knew 40% of the words in the title...of Lesson 1.
Bring it on, Shanghai.

Also, a different kind of dorm food

Monday, July 2, 2012


In just a short week I'll be starting my summer Chinese class at Shanghai Normal University! I'm super stoked because over 3 hours of classes a day is definitely going to help whip my speaking abilities into shape.

The time I've spent in China so far has been fantastic. Seeing the small roadside grocery markets and food vendors, and twenty something floor apartments gives off a totally different feel than anywhere I've lived in Texas. Even the traffic is different; there are many more pedestrians, people on bicycles and motor scooters, and many more taxis. It's the type of transportation structures that exists when few people own or need to own cars. Even though I'm the type of person that prefers the comfort of familiarity, I'm enjoying the change of pace of this new environment

Being away from fluent English speakers has forced me to step out of my comfort zone and converse with people even though I know my speaking skills are still lacking. I have a tendency to not say anything if I can't say it perfectly but right now I'm working hard at suppressing that tendency.

I'm currently doing some studying on my own for the time being and learning Chinese is still presenting the same difficulties it did the last couple of times in my life I studied it. There's a unique challenge in learning a language that isn't alphabet-based. The amount of memorization gets to be really confusing, especially with the characters that look really alike. Writing presents another challenge in that trying to remember how to write new characters or even characters that I know I've seen before in a way is kind of like trying to draw logos, like the Disney logo. It's distinct, something I've seen many times, yet would be difficult to replicate right away.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A little food trivia

镇江三怪 (Zhen jiang san guai) - The three bizarre/peculiar foods of Zhenjiang

1. 镇江肴肉 (Zhen jiang yao rou) - A specific way of preparing and cooking a selected cut of pork. It tastes like it's been brined somehow.  
 2. 镇江锅盖面 (Zhen jiang guo gai mian) - Really fantastic noodle (面) soup. There's some legend about the origin of this noodle soup that says somehow a small pot cover (锅盖) fell into the larger vat/pot that was cooking noodle soup and then people discovered that the result of that was delicious. The above picture shows beef in the noodle soup, although many other types of meat are also cooked in 锅盖面.

3. 镇江香醋 (Zhen jiang xiang cu) - The vinegar (醋) made in Zhen jiang is known for being extra fresh/flavorful or keeping longer, or something like that. 肴肉 is commonly dipped in the 醋 and eaten. The vinegar in the above picture is in the small bowl slightly off center to the left.
In fact, this last picture shows all 3 weird foods of Zhen jiang!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sightseeing in 徐州 (Xu zhou)

The scope of the tomb
More happenings from last week:

Front of a Han Dynasty Liu family 墓 (mu: tomb)
in 徐州 (Xu zhou)

A burial outfit made completely out of
jade pieces and threaded with gold wires 
A portion of the miniature terra cotta
figures that guard the tomb.
A life sized terra cotta warrior from the
most famous tomb in 西安 (Xi'an)

Outside the 龟山汉墓 (Gui shan Han mu)
Gui shan Han Dynasty tombs

Monday, June 4, 2012

Last week in 连云港 (Lian yun gang, literal meaning: Clouds and harbor are connected) I had a possibly once in a lifetime opportunity to pick cherries- 樱桃 (ying tao) straight from the cherry tree of my uncle's friend's friend's family. Those were some of the best 樱桃 I've ever eaten.

There's a saying in 连云港:海天一色(Hai tian yi se), that the sea and the sky are just one color. It really did seem like it on that day.