Hello and Welcome

As I am currently away from home for study, and as Skype has proven to be rather problematic in terms of time zones, I have decided to start a blog in an attempt to keep in touch with family and friends back in Canada.

December 2, 2011

November's End

Hello,

My time in China has been a lot of fun, between studying and work I still have quite a bit of free time so I am able to get to know the city a bit better and enjoy myself.

Every once in a while I have lunch with my other classmates, and sometimes we go to new restuarants. And, so far the food has all been very good.

This year was the first year I had my birthday away from home as well, so I went out to dinner with some of my classmates from Canada and afterwards we had cake. The place we went to served western food, and although it was quite a bit more expensive than other restuarants I have been to, it was nice to have it for a change.

Also, the day before my birthday we had to go to the Main Campus of ZJU in order to attend 'Canada' Day which was being celebrated along with some members of the consolute in Shanghai. It was to commemorate the universities ties with Canadian Universities, so we had to go in order to represent some of the Canadian student body, under the pretense of free food... There was free food, but not a lot and not that good....

Anyways, we mainly ended up just going to the opening meeting and then a picture. After that, we dispersed. I stayed with some others to look at some artwork on display by a Canadian artist, and then we all went for lunch.

As a result, we missed our morning Mandarin classes. But, we were still able to go to our computer class in the afternoon. Overall, it was a very interesting expperiance.

November 26, 2011

American Thanksgiving

November 24th was American Thanksgiving, and in China they don't really know that Canadian thanksgiving and American thanksgiving aren't the same thing, or the same day.

On the 24th one of the Chinese DDP members sent us all a text wishing us a Happy Thanksgiving, and ended up sending an apology text when one of my classmates him sent a reply text asking why it was October again...

Anyways, on the 25th, I was about to buy some dinner on my way back from tutoring, when I recieved a text from my boss asking if I would like to come to a thanksgiving dinner since one of her friends had to cancel, I thought it would be fun so I accepted.

It was at a Mexican restuarant I had never been to before, and I thought I would be able to walk there in time. I couldn't. I ended up taking a really old bus, and the sound tract that announced what stop we were at was really staticy and I was not able to keep track of what stop we were at. I had planned on counting the stops instead, but I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention and miscounted. I was beginning to feel a little nervous when I saw that we passed the street that the restuarant was on, so luckily I was able to get off at the next stop and walk back to the restuarant.

We had a large table on the second floor, and Maggie introduced me to some of the other people there and so I was able to chat with and get to know them. Apparently she is very outgoing and enjoys organizing get-to-gethers with friends and colleagues, and that's what the dinner was for.

It was a lot of fun, and it was quite funny when the played truth-or-dare at the end of the dinner.

On the way back to the campus I took a cab with another attendee that also lives at Yuquan Campus, as I was going back into my building, I suddenly realized I didn't have my phone. I was worried that I had left it in the restuarant, but we called Maggie asking about it and it wasn't there. The only other place would be the cab.

Luckily, we had the receipt from the cab ride, but the line was busy, so I took it and went back to my room to continue to try to phone them. After a while I managed to get through, but it was the wrong line, and they gave me a new number. So I called it. Luckily, the line was not nearly as busy and I managed to get through and tell them happened. But, I had a difficult time understanding the girl on the other end as she spoke quickly, I ended up saying that I didn't understand a lot, and eventually she started laughing and hung up. A while later though, she called back and said that they had found my phone, and that I would have to come get it from their office, but I didn't know where it was, and they ended up hanging up again.

Maggie said that if I needed to I could borrow her old phone until I bought a new one, and a friend told me that I would be able to use my old number if I went back to the store I bought my sim card in and told them I lost it. So, I was more worried about the contacts and numbers that I had stored on it.

They ended up calling the taxi that I was in, and the driver called me. He said that he would be driving back to where he had dropped me off and to meet him there quickly. I ran down to the front of the campus and went up to the first cab I saw. Wrong one, oops. I waited by the gate for a while, and eventually a cab driver came up and seemed to be looking around for someone, so I went up to him. He had my phone.

He said I would habe to call it first though to prove that it really was mine, luckily I had taken Aly-Shah's phone with me in my rush to get to the curb so I used it to call my phone. But, I accidently dailing my old number, and then a wrong number. So, the cab driver asked me why I didn't know my own phone number. Finally, I dailing the right number and so I got my phone back. =) I'm glad that the taxi company was able to help me, and that the taxi driver was so nice. It could have all ended very differently, and I'm thankful that it didn't. =)

November 23, 2011

ShaoXing and Two Random Pictures


This is My Class Schedule for Chinese Classes


I nice building in ZJU.

























Some pictures from the trip to the city south of Hangzhou. (Shaoxing)

Nancy and I left early in the morning to catch the train to Shaoxing, luckily we were able to get an earlier train and ended up arriving in the city more than an hour earlier than planned. From there we went to LuXun's former residence and school. It was very crowded there, and the streets were full of people and shops. We saw the 100 plant garden, which I thought was kinda funny since it just looked like a big plot of weeds to me, but it was apparently were Luxun enjoyed spending a lot of time. I also was able to learn a bit about China's Educational system, which was very interesting.

Afterwards, we went for luch, the food was really good at the restuarant, although it was quite expensive! We ordered a lot of food, and although we intended to get some spicy dishes, they were not particularily spicy. We were going to go see one of the mountians in the area, but the waitress said that the mountian was really boring, so we ended up calling one of Nancy's friends, who was from Shaoxing, and she told us about a nice place to go.

We went to DaYue's buruial grounds. It was a beautiful mountian by a lake, and at the very top of the mountian was a monument to him. From the top we could see the city, although the view was rather obscured by the treesjust underneath the ledge.

I had a lot of fun on the trip, on the way back we had sushi before heading back to Hangzhou. We missed the last train, but managed to get one to in a further area of Hangzhou and from there we took a bus back, and then a taxi from there. We were rather tired by the end, but I'm glad I went. =)

I Can Access Internet Again!

Hello, I haven't been able to update for quite a while since the proxy I had been using stopped working. I tried a few others, but they tended to die or want money... But, now I found a way to get online again, yay!

Anyways, a lot has happened since my last update... at the beginning of the term it seems.

In terms of schooling:

Since then, I have had my midterms, overall I did acceptably, oddly my highest mark was in 口语 (Speaking class) which was very unexpected on my part, but a nice surprise.

My DDP classmates and I have started another Chinese class we attend with the cohort before us in which we learn technical terms for math and such. So far we have only had one class, and we have to learn a lot of vocab each week for it, so it will be interesting.

In C programming class we only have one class a week, which it quite painful as I feel it would be better to have more. We finally got our first assignment though, after wondering why we didn't have any for months, and it doesn't seem /too/ bad. That being said, I think it will take a lot of time to complete so I should probably start it soon...

I am also enjoying the Chinese painting course I took, although it is not for marks, and it has been interesting to learn the different painting style. I bought far too much paper as it turns out though, but at least I can practice a lot?

In terms of work:

I found a couple of jobs! (Yay!)

The first one I teach every second Wednesday to a company. I teach them pronounciation mostly, and I think it's going fairly well. Originally it was every week, but their old tutor came back so now we are spliting the classes.

The second one is every Friday, in which I teach an eight year old boy basic English. His mother attends with him to help and learn as well. Last week another Mother and daughter came as well. I don't know if they well be coming every week, but it will be interesting to find out.

In terms of travel:

I went on a trip with a Chinese friend to a city just south of Hangzhou about a month(?) ago. It was a lot of fun and I was able to take a lot of pictures and see a lot of new places. We wanted to find a restaurant with spicy food, but when we went looking, neither of us really knew the area and we ended up going to one of the first places we sae instead.

After mid-terms there was a trip to Thousand Isle by our class, but I ended up not being able to go since I had already planned to work on the day. I have pictures, but hopefully there will be another trip at the end of term.


Other:

Well, I lot of stuff has happened, mostly invlolving getting to know the Chinese members of the DDP program and such. We had a Halloween get together, and it was interesting to see how they tried to adapt it.

....

I think that's an adequate enough update for now.

Anyways, on November 29th we (the Canadian DDP students) are going to the main campus for a 'Canadian Day' event since there are not a lot of Canadian students at the school and Xiang 老师 wants us to help represent. Also attending will be the Canadian Consolute General, and some other Canadian ministers. There will also be a buffet, for which we want to push back the time of out C progamming class in order to attend fully. I except the food will be pretty good...

Last week I was sick and had to miss most of the school week, during which time we were assigned a presentation to give to the class about an experiance we had making a purchase in China. Unfortuneatly, the details of the assignment were miscommunicated to me and I ended up prepared a speach about Canadian Specialties. When the time came to present I ended up having to make something up, all things considered it wasn't too bad though. Shorter than it should have been though.

I have also taken quite a few pictures now so I will post them with captions in a bit. =)

September 12, 2011

Start of New Term

Hello,

This week is the first week of classes, so the rest of my oohort and I have been busy preparing and going to meetings and such. We've applied for our student books, put money on our meal cards and are as prepared as we can apparently be....

Last week on Wednesday we went to a meeting were we learned how to access the online class registration system. It was all in Mandarin, so I did not understand most of what was said, however the teacher also demoed the site on the screen so I was able to take notes according to what link lead where and what different buttons did, so it was still useful. Later in the afternoon we met with our DDP coordinator and went to a dinner with some of the teachers. It was quite fun.

On Thursday, we went to our first class, although we were not officially registered yet. It was C programming, taught in English as it turned out, and we were supposed to decide what times we wanted to take the class. However, as we did not know the rest of our schedule it has been post-phoned until this Thurday. In the class we learned some of the Mandarin words used in computer science and the evolution of Computer Programming and a brief history, next class we are learning the Philosophy and goal of different programs. The class was for DDP students only as they arranged it especially for us.

On Friday, we tried to sign up for our language classes, and met up with the earlier cohort who were going to help us sign up for the classes. For the language classes, they post the possible schedules on a board and then people line up to speak with the teacher that will put us into the schedule we choose, however, as our group is quite large, they weren't able to enter us into classes. The coordinator said that we would be forced in tomorrow, when classes actually start, but it seems more like we should have signed up earlier to avoid the trouble. We will be missing the first day of classes as a result. The earlier cohorts were also entered late, however they only had three students to fit in to a class, while we have seven. There are about twenty to a class. We may be put into different groups, or they may make a new schedule since it has to fit with our C programming class, the options for which are all split between Thursday and Friday mornings. In the end, we were not able to do anything and are waiting for tomorrow when we will meet with her.

On Saturday, we met with our cohort again for lunch. Afterwards, we went to the dorm rooms to try to sign up for some classes electonically. The language classes were available online, however, they don't actually enter you into the course, only to show the teacher who is interested. We were supposed to take six courses this term, however, we were only able to enter four due to conflict. We were unable to sign up for the C programming course we knew we were in as well. Another of the classes wer were supposed to sign up for does not actually have a time table available, and the current claim on the system conflicts with the fake language classes on it. We signed up for four of the classes, and will once again have to wait until tomorrow to actually get into anything. Luckily, apparently they tend to force us into the classes we need since we are DDP and have to keep to a stricter schedule than language students in order to graduate, so they tend to be a little more leniant. However, it is rather annoying not knowing what classes we will end up being in.

Next year, we will be signing up for classes ourselves using the online system, since it is only the language courses that we have to sign up in person for apparently, and so we were told a few things to be prepared for. One of which is that, although you may able to sign up online for the course, you may not actually be in it. A lot of the time, the option is just to guage interest before an actual class and schedule is set up. Also, it will not tell you if a class is full, only if it exists. And, it is not first come first serve, but a random draw. So one may sign up for the classes they need, but then they need to wait until classes start to see if they actually get in, and if they are unlucky, they have to try to sign up again or wait a year for the class to be available again. The classes are term based, so if you don't get in that term you have to wait a year for it to be available again rather than next term, although that does not apply to all classes. For international students though, they are more likely to let you in, or you can talk to the teacher and be forced in, so hopefully it will work out.

September 6, 2011

Last Vacation Day

video

So, apparently the video didn't work in my last post, so I'm trying again, otherwise you can probably find something similar on youtube. The past few days we have been preparing to go back to school, and it has been interesting.

We thought we had a meeting on the 5th, but when we asked, no one really knew what it was or when. I asked our coordinator, but she said there wasn't a meeting, and something about a stretchy piece of paper, and in the end we didn't do anything, so hopefully there wasn't anything important. Soon we have our first day of class, and it will be at 8 in the morning for C Programming, originally it was at 7 at night, but it was rescheduled. The rest of the classes will be late though. We actually have the class before we sign up for it due to the wonkyness of the schedule, and I don't know if it's in English or Bilingual yet. But, it is exciting.


The last day, I only have one image which I took as we were leaving the hotel. We were allowed to sleep in a bit that day, and were supposed to go exploring on our own through the city, but I don't think anyone actually did. Everyone was pretty tired by then.

We had a nice breakfast, with both Western and Eastern styles. Like all of the breakfasts it was buffet style, and so I ended up eating quite a bit of delicious food. As it happens, hotel cheese is much better than the cheese you can find elsewhere, so I enjoyed that.

We left the hotel around 11 and headed to the airport, said good-bye to Aly-Shah's parents and everyone else, and then our tour guide brought us to the train station and helped us buy our tickets and made sure we knew how to find our seats on the train. Afterwards, Aly-Shah and I were on our way back to Hangzhou. =)

When we returned to our room, we unpacked and then proceeded to clean up a bit before relaxing, and that brings us back up to today! =)

Thanks for reading!

August 31, 2011

Vacation 8

Today I registered for school, and in a few days I sign up for classes. =) I found out that my Winter Vacation is from January 16 Until February 12. Yay! On the eighth day we went to the World Expo in Shanghai. We waited an hour to get it, which was far better than the waiting time of 3-5 hours during the actual World Expo, but it was still rather boring. After we got through the gate, we entered a new line to go up the elevator to get to the first station, where we waited in a group for the theatre to clear out before we were able to watch the film. The film was the main attraction of China's Station and was about China's history and hopes for the future. It was quite good and I took some pictures and a video at the bottom, if it works. After the video we left the theatre to follow the pack of people through the rest of the building. There were a few interesting things, but it mostly felt like an interactive line-up. There was a part where you could take a train through part of the building, but the wait was 45 minutes so we walked through instead. We were running out of time before we headed to our next location. Next we went to a famous tourist area full of shops and where Shanghai's famous dumplings were sold. However, the area is also quite famous for pick-pockets so we had to watch out. We were able to haggle at the shops, and we found out that the tea at the Tea Village really had been selling for a good deal. Afterwards we went for dinner where more dumplings were served, and they were quite good. That night we went to see the lights in Shanghai across the bay and then walked down Nanjing road to see all the shops before heading back to the hotel.