Chinese New Year in Haikou

For my first Chinese New Year in China, I head back to Haikou and experience fireworks, a 1940s-theme street, praying to ancestors at a temple, horseback riding, and lunch in a small village!

Happy (late) Chinese New Year!

This semester, the Spring Festival and the Alliance’s Independent Travel Week happened to fall around the same time, so I spent my ten-day vacation back in Hainan with Euca, Jason, and Evelyn! After six months in Shanghai, I was so excited to see everyone again and to maybe relive some of my favorite Haikou memories from the summer.

Long story short, I really enjoyed my time back in Hainan, and I can’t say enough how grateful I am to Euca and her family. Now that I’m back in Shanghai, I already miss the comforts of island living. In this blog post, I’m going to skip the journal entry format and dive straight into the highlights of my trip. Let’s get started! Continue reading “Chinese New Year in Haikou”

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Hainan Reflection

Well, I guess sitting in the airport waiting for my plane to arrive is a good a time as any to write a reflection post. To sum up my experience in a single sentence: I had trouble adjusting to China for the first month and a half, but then I started motivating myself to study Chinese and became much happier.

When I look back now on those first weeks here in Haikou, I can barely remember feeling homesick and lonely at all. It seems like a lifetime ago that I stepped off the airplane in Beijing and became completely overwhelmed by all the foreign sights and sounds. After several rocky weeks full of ups and downs, I think I’ve gotten through the worst of my culture shock.

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Looking back now, it’s obvious to me that my isolation from other foreign students was a big cause of my unhappiness. It would have really helped to be around other people experiencing what I was going through. While Jason and Euca were nothing but generous and welcoming, their presence wasn’t as much of a comfort as it could have been because they were completely adjusted to China while I was fumbling around trying to find my niche. Continue reading “Hainan Reflection”

Goodbye Haikou Week: Part 2

I spend my last days in Haikou eating French toast, taking a tutoring trip to the nail salon, photo documenting my neighborhood, going on a picnic, teaching my last English class, and running errands before my big move to Shanghai!

Thursday, August 21st, 12:14pm

This morning, I forced myself out of bed to grab a French toast breakfast at the restaurant downstairs. I happily munched on my food while reading a book on my iPhone, and then I went back upstairs to the apartment and gave my mom a call!

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Thursday, August 21st, 6:34pm

I had my real last class with Lemon and Wendy today (since Wendy didn’t leave town after all), and the lesson was pretty normal (except for a tangent about the ice bucket challenge, which has very recently arrived in China). With no other classes for the day, I’m spending my rainy evening back at the noodle restaurant for dinner and then I think Eiffel and I have plans later tonight! Continue reading “Goodbye Haikou Week: Part 2”

Neighborhood Tour

Hello, everyone! For my last tour in Haikou, I decided to bring you all along on a trip to The One, a cafe about a ten minute walk from the apartment! Let’s get started!

Our trip begins by crossing the parking lot in front of the apartment and heading over to the university next door. Haikou has at least two universities, the largest of which is on a separate island about twenty minutes away from the apartment (by car). I live next to Hainan Normal University, which is much smaller.

The sky is a very ominous gray. It’s definitely about to rain.

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The university is kept separate from the rest of the city, and I have to pass through gates to enter into the campus. Eiffel had asked me one day how many gates my university back in the U.S. had, and I told her that there was no way the entire campus could be fenced in. It’s way too large! Continue reading “Neighborhood Tour”

Goodbye Haikou Week: Part 1

I say goodbye to Haikou by revisiting all my favorite places! I visit Simi and Tai Long Cheng, hold my last English classes, explore a park, sing at the KTV next-door, and attend a yoga class!

Monday, August 18th, 3:40pm

Today marks day one of my Goodbye-Haikou week in which I’m going to go around the city doing my favorite things before I take off for Shanghai! The first thing on today’s agenda (because I totally planned out a schedule to keep things nice and organized) is an afternoon trip to Simi. Ah. Milk tea has never tasted so bittersweet.

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The cafe is just as cute and cozy as ever. I’m working on some blog posts, preparing for a slang class with Aria, and taking in the cafe atmosphere. It’s a great way to ease myself into the week since I spent my entire weekend in the apartment. (I literally didn’t go outside once.) I hope I’ll be able to find a cute cafe that I like just as much as Simi in Shanghai! (Walking distance from the school would be nice, too!) Continue reading “Goodbye Haikou Week: Part 1”

The Goodbye Haikou To-Do List

Now that my countdown to Shanghai has begun, I’ve decided to make a to-do list of some of my favorite Haikou pastimes! It’s not super ambitious, but it’ll keep me busy through this last week and it will motivate me to get out of the apartment! No more laziness for me!

  • Go to sing at a KTV by myself
  • Get my manicure removed and fingernails repainted
  • Ride the bus around
  • Eat French toast for breakfast
  • Spend the afternoon in Simi

Continue reading “The Goodbye Haikou To-Do List”

My Lazy Week

After getting very lost on Monday, the rest of the week is low-key and relaxing! My Chinese learning efforts take a step back, but I’m not down and out yet! I try out a zumba class and attempt to explain YOLO to a very confused student.

Monday, August 11th, 7:12pm

Whew. After two English classes this morning, two hour-long conversations with people I’d met on iTalki, and a tutoring lesson with Eiffel, I’m all worn out.

But I feel like I still have a lot of studying to do and not enough time tonight to accomplish it all! Plus on top of all that, I wanted to go shopping tonight. Wah! It’s summer! I’m not supposed to be this busy!

Monday, August 11th, 11:21pm

Well this was not my greatest night ever. I took the bus over to Tai Long Cheng to do a bit of shopping, but after wandering around the shops and street stalls for a good two hours, I was still empty-handed with money burning a hole in my pocket.

I just can’t seem to make up my mind about Chinese fashion. I like the cute and frilly clothes when other people are wearing them, but I don’t love the clothes enough to actually spend money to buy them. Continue reading “My Lazy Week”

Carrefour Tour

Hello, everyone, and welcome to Carrefour, the French supermarket chain that may as well be Haikou’s version of Walmart.

Featuring two floors packed with products and people, you can find everything you want but never anything you actually need! I kid. I can usually pick up most of the items on my shopping list at Carrefour, but there are still a few things that I can never seem to track down. (I just can’t seem to find where the sewing supplies are hidden!)

IMG_3180In order to actually get into the store, customers ride on these escalator-moving-airport-sidewalk-hybrids which are very convenient if you’re taking a shopping cart up and down the various store levels. I’m assuming there’s also an elevator around somewhere if moving sidewalks aren’t your thing. I rode up two floors before I could get to the actual shopping.  Continue reading “Carrefour Tour”

Alone in China

Euca heads back to the United States, and I have the apartment all to myself. I adjust to to my new situation and discover a new language-learning tool: italki.com. Talking to strangers on the Internet has never been so educational!

Friday, August 8th, 10:52am

Ah, nothing starts the morning off right like a good breakfast of French toast!

Friday, August 8th, 12:55pm

Wah! Euca leaves today! She booked her flight at 4:00am in the morning last night, and she’s taking off immediately! I’m going to miss her so much, and it’s crazy to think that I’ll be alone here in China for the next two weeks! Talk about cultural immersion. With the way things are going, I’m sure I’ll keep myself happily occupied until it’s time to leave for Shanghai. I just think that it’ll be hard to motivate myself to leave the apartment. I’m afraid the rest of my stay in Hainan won’t be very exciting.

Friday, August 8th, 12:55pm

First night alone, and I decided to spend the evening in. I went downstairs and picked up some popcorn chicken and a crepe from the street vendors, who recognized me and knew what my order would be. I felt like a local! After my not-so-healthy dinner (which cost me a grand total of 13 RMB), I tided up the apartment while dancing around to music.

It’s kind of nice to have the whole place to myself. I can sing in the shower and practice my vocabulary words out loud without feeling self-conscious! I haven’t had this much alone time since I was temporarily roommate-less last spring, and I’m telling myself to enjoy it because come August 27th, I’ll be with lots of other people in my study abroad program. But there’s a fine line between alone and lonely, so I’m definitely going to have to make sure I’m not shutting myself off completely.  Continue reading “Alone in China”

Settling Into a Routine

Life in China starts to lose its novelty, and I’m becoming better adjusted than ever! Conversations with shopkeepers, productive classes, and delicious foods add a little spice to my daily routine. I also reflect on studying and motivation.

Sunday, August 3rd, 7:49pm

This evening, Euca, Evelyn, and I drove over to Tai Long Cheng, and Evelyn got really upset whenever she was separated from Euca. That meant bad news for me as I tried to dry her tears in the backseat of the car. Not only was I listening to a screaming baby, I was the person responsible for getting her to stop crying. Ah! I didn’t know what to do! I am so not ready for kids anytime in the near future. Sorry if you wanted grandchildren, Mom!

I spent a good two hours shopping independently (since Euca was taking care of Evelyn), and I actually had conversations with the shopkeepers this time around! When I was trying on a dress in one store, the shopkeeper helpfully informed me that I had it on backwards. (I actually preferred it that way…) She asked me if I was a foreigner since I’d taken a little while to understand what she was saying, and even though she knew I wasn’t a local she was still surprised to find out that I’m American. When people see me, United States is not the first country that comes to mind. Continue reading “Settling Into a Routine”