Tuesday, March 15, 2011


First of all, we’re safe. Qingdao has remained untouched by the earthquakes that caused so much damage in Japan and southwest China. Please be praying for the ministries and humanitarians who are already taking action to help the people who live in these places. Tragedy seems more realistic when you’re living close to it.

I honestly didn’t know much about the earthquakes until I talked to some of the people at church this last Sunday. What little news we receive is all in Chinese. So church was the first time I heard anything. I am attending the international Christian church in Qingdao. It’s a legal church for foreigners. Only foreigners. Chinese people are not allowed entrance due to laws by the incredibly “tolerant” government. However, we’ve heard through the grapevine that churches with eight or less people are only considered in-home meetings. I’ve met several people who have offered to take us to these meetings and show us around. Eight Christians may not seem like much but neither did Twelve.

Until then though, I will continue going to the international church. It’s amazing to see so many people from different nationalities worshiping together. And I’m going bowling with the singles group next weekend. Also, they’ve introduced us to the ExPats that live in town. ExPat, or Ex-Patriots, are foreigners from all over the world who have banded together in China. They have their own magazine, events, and helpful tips that can save a foreigner like me so much time.

Classes are still going well. We had our first test. It was all based on tones and pronunciations. There are four main tones in the Chinese language. One that is said at a high pitch, one that is ascending (like a question in English), one that goes down and then back up, and one that is descending (like a sentence that ends with an exclamation point). The trouble with these tones is that the same word can have several different meanings. The word “Ma” in the first tone means mother. The word “Ma” said with the third tone means horse. Not a good word to be confused about. I could say all the words correctly in a sentence and mean something entirely different than what I intended. This is a great country.

Oh and I received my Chinese name. It’s Lǜ dēnglóng. In an exact translation it means Green Lantern. I almost fell out of my chair when I got it.

Also this week I climbed the Lao Shang mountains. They were large but not very steep. It took us about four hours. We found a cave and we’re going to explore it on Wednesday. Luckily, I brought my headlamp and rope. Never leave home without your headlamp and rope.

I'll be sure to tell you how it goes.



Today I went to Kungfu class. The dorm offers lessons for all of the exchange students. Right now we are just punching the air and working on our form. It’s a great workout and everyone’s improving quickly. My French roommate, some of my German friends, and the American girls are all doing it with me. The teachers for the group are two short Chinese men. They look like they're pushing seventy and they can’t speak a word of English. So instead, the two of them just walk around kicking us until we get our form and position correct. For men so old, they still can pack a punch. One that was half my size knocked me backwards with a flick of his thumb. The more they punch the faster I learn.

Some of the students who attend the class are amazing. They have been at the university for several semesters. There are these two Italian girls who know how to fight with bow staffs and swords. If we continue training we might be able to get to this point too. I’m really enjoying everything and I will keep training until our Kungfu show in May. I’ll keep you posted on how things are going. Once I'm not getting punched as much I'll try uploading a video of one of our lessons.


My half Birthday

The American girls thought it would be nice to celebrate my half birthday. I didn’t know there was such a thing. But they insisted. So on March 10, Amy, Kim, Daniela, and Judith, went above and beyond on a holiday that didn't exist. And I am incredibly grateful.

I woke up to my room plastered with posters and streamers. They made me breakfast in bed and took me out to Pizza Hut in the evening. Now Pizza Hut is always a big deal but in China it’s a fancy restaurant. There are appetizers, fancy desserts, and classical music. And we’ve been living off Chinese food for the last three weeks so this felt like a real luxury. What’s more, the girls brought gifts and even a cake. Among the gifts was a bottle of Welch’s Grape Juice. I practically lived off the stuff in the states and it’s rare in China. It really meant a lot. There’s nothing better than pizza and grape juice.

The entire day they did things to celebrate. It was the best half birthday I’ve ever had.



Okay, this is less of a post a more of an observance. I'm not usually one for stereotypes but this keeps happening again and again. There are few people in this world that laugh more than the Koreans. They are the most giggly people I have ever seen. If I hear a high-pitched squeal from somewhere across campus I can be sure it's a group of Koreans. And it's not just when things are funny. They laugh when they're nervous and they laugh when they're confused. So in a place where their language isn't spoken they spend a large part of their days giggling. One of my friends has a Korean roommate. She practically communicates through giggles. There are few recognizable words. Just giggles. The French have their cheese, the Russians their alcohol, and the Koreans their giggles.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What's New

Hello everyone, I wanted to apologize for not writing until now. China’s government has blocked my blog along with Facebook and most of Google. Thanks to Jennifer Wilson though, we have figured out a way I can send my posts through email and to my blog. I think my mom has already posted a few brief emails that I sent to her.

So much has happened in the last two weeks. I am currently in the International dorm at Qingdao University where all the foreign exchange students stay. So living right beside us are people from all over the world. It’s such an odd thing to be doing laundry next to a South Korean (yes Mom, I’m doing laundry) or eating dinner with a group of Germans. Tonight we are going to Karaoke with several types of people. If everyone attends, we will have representatives from Ghana, France, Germany, England, South Korea, Russia, Spain, America, and maybe even Poland. I only hope the rest of the world enjoys songs from Grease as much as I do.

Speaking of songs, China is already infected with that Justin Bieber kid. I heard a Chinese man singing “Bee bee, bee bee, bee bee ooooh,” on the bus yesterday…not The White Stripes, or Noah and The Whale, or even the Beatles. Just Bieber. I am so disappointed in the global community for letting that slip through our borders.

Anyways, I have a French roommate at the moment. I asked for a Korean but they must have been out. So instead, I got Florian. From what I’ve seen, he’s a great guy. He also speaks fluent English which is a huge perk in a place where my language is a minority.

He’s also in my Chinese class. We are taking four hours of Chinese a day, five days a week. It’s okay for the first two hours but by the third hour my brain flat lines. We have two teachers, or Laoshi’s teaching our class. My favorite is Ma Laoshi (Laoshi means teacher and Ma is his last name. It’s translated as horse. So, in an exact translation, we are calling him Horse teacher). The other is Cheng Laoshi. She is an ever-smiling woman who always tells me to learn Chinese by listening to my heart. But my heart only speaks English.

Still though, through so much practice, I can already order food, ask prices, talk about my family, and put together small sentences. What’s hard about Chinese is that you can’t just learn the translation. Chinese uses Characters instead of letters. So a sentence like “I love Chicken,” looks like this; 我爱鸡. The problem with this is that you have to worry about the pronunciation of the characters. We have to say the words phonetically. So 我爱鸡 sounds like Wǒ ài jī.

As a beginner, we have to learn to pronounce the words first, and then learn the characters. Basically, it’s like you’re studying two languages at the same time. I asked Ma laoshi how many characters there were and he said more than he could count. He added that he knew about six thousand though. Right now I know fifteen. Only five thousand, nine hundred and eight-five to go.

While I’m not studying, I usually spend my time eating, working, and exploring. The food in this town is good but full of oil. Everything we eat is dripping with the stuff and we eat so much of it. Someone told me that it’s custom to have more food than is necessary at a meal. If your guest or your customer eats it all, it’s insulting. So they cover the tables with as much food as possible.

I remember when I was eating meals as a child, adults used to bring up the starving kids in China. “Eat your broccoli. There are starving kids in China.” But this was a lie. No, there are only fat kids in China. I have never seen so many fat Asian babies in my life. And their parents dress them up in fluffy body coats that make them look even bigger. So pick another country to make your children feel guilty about. Or maybe you should say, “Don’t eat that ice cream. There are obese children in China. “

Haha, oh and the Chinese love putting on clothing with English writing. This poor little boy had no idea what his hat said. I imagine it’s about the same as American’s getting tattoos in Chinese.

I am also working at a children’s preschool in Qingdao. The school focuses on English skills for Chinese children. It’s perfect because everyone has to speak English while we’re working and playing. Our language has become a very valuable skill in China. I love the job and the kids are great. And fat.

And like I said, I enjoy exploring this great city. Qingdao is surrounded by mountains on one side and a sea on the other. Also, there is so much culture. At one spot you can find technology that looks like it should come out of Star Trek. But if you walk 100 meters in any direction the landscape may look like it did a hundred, or in some cases, a thousand years ago. It’s all very beautiful.

Well, this is where I will leave you for now. I will try to write more frequently now that I am able to post messages. I hope you all are well.

If anyone sees Ryan Beerwinkle please tell him that I met a contact he can use while he’s in Australia this summer. They’re nice people. Barley farmers.

Until next time,


Saturday, March 5, 2011


We went to see the temple of heaven. That's where the emperor went to pray to his ancestors for things like a good harvest and fertile women. He did this because the chinese believed he was a son of the gods. Also went to a market and did some serious bartering. I'm not too shabby at it now. At first I was spending 15 dollars on a nice sweater but I was soon able to get them down on shirts. Usually a dollar to three dollars (U.S). We also went to the forbidden city. That's where some dynasty of emperors spent their time. It was very beautiful. In the forbidden city we met some retired people who were dancing. I guess when you retire in China, the people are allowed to join all kinds of hobbies like an official neigborhood watch or, like I saw, dancing groups in the forbidden city. We danced with them for about thirty minutes. At first we just did their old dances, which kind of remind me of Teviah (?) from Fiddler on the roof, but we quickly found out that their beats fit well with the electric slide and cotten eye'd joe. Super exciting. And they dont touch each other when a man and a woman dance together. So everyone was really shocked when I took a sixty+ year old woman and started swing dancing with her. But they like it. I gave a woman, she looked about a hundred, one of those chewy jolly ranchers. She followed us for the next one hundred meters thanking me and trying to offer me a piece of a banana.


I didn't understand how communist China was. Amazing people. Almost everyone we meet is kind and willing to offer their services when we're lost or confused. But it is still communist and they don't want outside information to be brought into their country. It's really very eerie.

Oh btw the food is getting really old. So much oil. EVERYWHERE. But they had tomato soup last night. At least we think it was. One of the girls said to check for chicken feet before we dipped it out. Oh and I rode a donkey on the great wall yesterday. Haha just for a second but it was pretty cool. I really do love it here and the smog has finally lifted. I guess when a fog comes in it traps the cities smog for several days. Some of us got a cough but it's finally better. The wall was beautiful though. We even got to see the original wall that was built before some emperor fortified and unified the walls around the north side of china. Also, we rode a slide all the way down the mountain. It was like a ten minute slide. IT took a long time to get up though.